Award Flights to Hawaii Just Got Cheaper for Everyone With Chase Points!

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Korean Air changed its partner award chart this week.  And because of that you can now transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air (and then fly on Delta) to Hawaii for just 25,000 miles in coach and 45,000 miles in Business Class from the US!

To get to Hawaii, other airlines charge anywhere from 35,000 to 45,000 miles in coach and up to 80,000 miles for Business Class!

Korean Air Hawaii

Aloha! You Can Now Use Korean Air Miles to Fly to Hawaii on Delta for Only 25,000 Miles Round-Trip in Coach, or 45,000 Miles in Business Class!

This is an amazing deal, because most other airlines charge many more miles for award tickets to Hawaii!

And I’ll explain why this makes Chase Ultimate Rewards points the BEST for getting to Hawaii.

However, note that a supervisor wasn’t able to actually book the flights at the lower level because their systems have not yet updated.  But the supervisor acknowledged the new award chart which requires fewer miles.

Until recently, Hawaii was considered a separate region with different award ticket pricing, but it’s now included in “North America” (which also includes the rest of the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands).

With the exception of using British Airways Avios points to book American Airlines or Alaska Airlines coach class tickets to Hawaii from the West Coast only (also 25,000 miles round-trip), this is now the fewest number of miles needed for an award ticket to Hawaii!

What’s Changed?

Link:   Korean Air SkyTeam North America Award Chart (NEW)

Link:   Korean Air SkyTeam US / Canada Award Chart (OLD)

On September 21, 2014, Korean Air updated its website and award charts.  They’ve made some changes to routing and stopover rules on award tickets, but the biggest change is in how they’ve defined their travel regions for SkyTeam alliance partner tickets.

Note:   You can NOT book 1-way flights using Korean Air miles on SkyTeam partner airlines, only round-trip.

Have a look at their old SkyTeam award chart.  Round-trip flights to Hawaii and Mexico cost 35,000 miles in coach class, and 75,000 miles in Business Class.

Korean Air Hawaii

Under the Old System, Round-Trip Flights From the US and Canada to Hawaii and Mexico Cost 35,000 Miles in Coach and 75,000 Miles in Business Class

Here’s the new SkyTeam award chart, which was released earlier this week.

Korean Air Hawaii

NEW: Round-Trip Flights Within North America Are 25,000 Miles in Coach and 45,000 Miles in Business Class!

It almost sounds too good to be true, but according to how they now define regions, North America includes:

Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, Puerto Rico

Korean Air Hawaii

Hawaii and Mexico Are Now the Same Region as the Rest of North America!

This means that you can book a round-trip ticket to Hawaii from anywhere Delta flies in the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or US Virgin Islands using Korean Air miles for only 25,000 miles in coach or 45,000 miles in Business Class.

As long as you can find available low-level Delta award seats!  This is important, because Delta doesn’t make it easy to find low-level award seats.

Korean Air Hawaii

45,000 Miles Round-Trip for a Delta Business Class Flight to Hawaii Is an Amazing Deal!

I called Korean Air to check if this pricing was correct and they confirmed that as long as award seats are available, it’s 25,000 miles round-trip in coach class and 45,000 miles in Business Class.

The agent was NOT able to confirm the taxes and fees, but she said on other Delta flights within the US, it’s usually ~$6 per segment.  I’m waiting for a call back from the Korean Air SkyPass folks to confirm this!

Note:   These award tickets can NOT be booked online.  You’ll have to call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 or 213-484-1900 to make the booking.

So do NOT transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air, UNLESS there are award seats available.  You won’t be able to transfer your points back to Ultimate Rewards from Korean Air!

How Does This Compare to Other Airlines?

Using Korean Air miles for award tickets on Delta is now the BEST deal for travel to Hawaii.

Even using Delta’s own miles, you’d pay 45,000 miles in coach class and 80,000 miles in Business Class for their lowest-level round-trip award tickets.

And with Korean Air’s non-SkyTeam partners, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll still pay more miles.  On both of these airlines, it costs 30,000 Korean Air miles for a round-trip award ticket in coach class, and 60,000 miles in First Class (Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines don’t have Business Class).

Here’s what some popular airlines charge for low-level, round-trip award tickets between the continental US and Hawaii.

Airline MilesCoach ClassBusiness Class
Alaska Airlines40,00080,000 (First Class)
American Airlines35,000 (Off-Peak Only)75,000
British Airways Avios (on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines)25,000 (From West Coast)
75,000 (From West Coast)
Hawaiian Airlines40,00080,000 (First Class)
Korean Air25,00045,000
Singapore Airlines (on United Airlines)35,00060,000
United Airlines45,00080,000
US Airways40,00080,000

So the only case where you’d pay the same number of miles is using British Airways Avios to fly American Airlines or Alaska Airlines from the US West Coast only.  That’s because their award chart is distance-based.  And their Business Class award tickets are more expensive.

How Can You Get Korean Air Miles?

1.   Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards

Link:   Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Ink Bold

Link:   Chase Ink Plus

Link:   Chase Freedom

Korean Air is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.  You can transfer points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus cards directly to Korean Air at a 1:1 ratio.  And if you have 1 of these 3 cards, you can also transfer points from the Chase Freedom!

Korean Air Hawaii

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer 1:1 to Korean Air

So for example, you could use the 40,000 point sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, plus another 5,000 points from adding an authorized user and meeting minimum spending requirements, and have enough for a round-trip, Business Class ticket to Hawaii on Delta!

2.   US Bank Korean Air SkyPass Card

Link:   US Bank Korean Air SkyPass Visa

You could get 15,000 Korean Air miles after your 1st purchase with the US Bank Korean Air SkyPass card.  You’ll also get:

  • 2 miles per $1 you spend on Korean Air
  • 1 mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • 2,000 miles when you renew the card
  • No foreign currency fees
  • Annual fee of $80, not waived for the 1st year 

In the past, the sign-up bonus on this card has been increased to 30,000 miles.  So this isn’t a very good deal.

And US Bank is usually very strict about approving folks who’ve recently applied for a lot of cards.

Why This Makes Chase Ultimate Rewards Points the Best for Award Flights to Hawaii

Not only can you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points into the Korean Air miles program, but you can transfer them to Singapore Airlines and British Airways!  If you look again at the chart above, you’ll see these are the 3 cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii!

Folks on the West Coast have the option to fly on Delta to Hawaii using Korean Air miles OR on American Airlines & Alaska Airlines using British Airways Avios points OR on United Airlines using Singapore miles.

Other US travelers could consider flying on Delta to Hawaii using Korean Air miles or on United Airlines using Singapore Airlines miles.

For instance, people in the New York City area can now use their Chase Ultimate Rewards points to get great deals to the Aloha state from all 3 major airports.  You fly from Newark to Hawaii on United Airlines or from New York City’s JFK or LaGuardia airports to Hawaii on Delta!

With Chase Ultimate Rewards points you have the flexibility to check for available award seats on Delta, United Airlines, or American Airlines and Alaska Airlines (using your British Airways Avios points to fly).

Bottom Line

Korean Air has changed their SkyTeam partner award chart, and you can now get a round-trip flight from North America to Hawaii on Delta in coach class for 25,000 miles, and Business Class for 45,000 miles!

Other airlines charge as much as 40,000 miles in coach and 80,000 miles in Business Class for low-level round-trip tickets to Hawaii, so this is an excellent deal!

You can get Korean Air miles by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, or from the US Bank Korean Air SkyPass Visa card.

I’ll post an update on how to use Korean Air miles to book Delta flights soon!

But remember NOT to transfer your points unless you are 100% sure that there are award seats on the flight!

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38 responses to “Award Flights to Hawaii Just Got Cheaper for Everyone With Chase Points!

  1. “So the only case where you’d pay the same number of miles is using British Airways Avios to fly American Airlines from the US West Coast only.”

    Well, or any of Alaska Airlines’ “160 flights a week from 8 West Coast cities to 4 Hawaiian Islands”, and those non-stop (e.g., San Jose to Kauai, which on Delta would not only connect through LAX, but require the saver level on both legs). Still, this is another welcome way to get to HI for 25k miles roundtrip—the only way for folks not on the West Coast—and further value to the Chase UR program.

  2. Very interesting, entertaining post Daraius….. like the creative thinking. Yet as you sooooo gently note, there’s on HUGE problem with this entire scheme, the weak link in the strategy, namely relying on Delta airlines to find reward seating. What utter dark comedy.

    I checked once again for availability for flights over the winter from virginia airports to Honolulu…. even saw a few “green” saver slots this time and got excited…. but when I clicked on the green saver combos, instead of decent economy seating rates coming up, again and again and again, it came back with options for 56k and 78k and UP thousand miles required for best available seating…. Wasted an hour on this.

    In short, Delta isn’t just unreliable on award seating, they’re flagrant liars…. making you think award seats are available on their flights, until you actually try booking one.

    And now you want to add another level of risk herein, that one would need to transfer miles to Korean Airlines and THEN hope for a miracle, that Delta ‘saver” seats would be available.


  3. Relying on finding Delta award seats is indeed the enormous weak link in the plan. Out of curiosity I checked availability from my airport to HNL and to my surprise did find a smattering of seats between now and February, though not one single seat on any date after that. I did get the 45k trying Oct. 21-Oct. 28, so did not find Will’s concern applicable in this one trial (I can’t fly those dates, just checking). Do people partnering with Delta (KAL and Skyteam, credit cards, etc.) realize that at some point most people will lose interest entirely due to their miserable award availability? They are simply not competitive with AA, UA, AS, WN or anyone else in terms of seats made available.

    Anyone, it’s good to know of the new KAL award chart, just in case. I’ve avoided that program so far due to their cumbersome award booking methods that are right out of the 1980s.

  4. Assuming one wanted to do this and could confirm with KAL that they could book the flight, how long would it take Chase to transfer the points to KAL? If it’s not instant the seats very well may evaporate and then I would be left holding KAL miles. Does anyone know how long the transfer takes?

  5. Dave – You’re right about DL being the weak link in this chain but be careful about booking systems straight out of the 1980s! At that time you could pick up the phone talk to an agent and pretty much redeem your miles for any flight you had enough for with no fees or fuel surcharges 🙂

  6. I have flown the family to Hawaii RT from LAX three times using AVIOS (25000 per ticket) to fly on American. That’s one of the best deals given airfare is usually around $700-800 per ticket. Availability generally has been pretty good. It may be tougher if you don’t live on the west coast. And of course it is just as easy to get AVIOS points by transferring from Ultimate Rewards. Not to mention the Korean Air card has an $89 annual fee that only gets you 15000 points. Whereas the British Airways Chase card gets you 50000 AVIOS. I miss the deal they had three years ago for 100,000 AVIOS!!! That was one of the all-time greatest credit card sign up offers. Opening up one card was good for FOUR round trip tickets to Hawaii!!! A value of well over $3000.

  7. I’ve heard Delta award availability is the worse in any airline. You need to warn people on this matter. Good luck in finding Delta award seats.

  8. I already have my off-peak award to revisit Hawaii in December, coming back from Marrakech (which is going to be one heck of a long day of flying), and I have another award flight back to the mainland to position for my flight in SQ F (A380 Suite; which I can’t stop dreaming about, nor apparently can I stop talking about it). So this comes just a tad too late for me, but may just be the go-to method for helping friends or someone special to come join me in Hawaii while I’m there nearly all of December & the first half of January. Yes, I’m leading quite the charmed life right now, and I’m saying this not so much to brag as to thank Daraius for the information that helped me pull this off. A thousand Thank You’s wouldn’t be enough….

  9. But of course there’s the cloud that comes with that sliver lining: Delta’s miserable award availability. They’re the one program I’ve made absolutely ZERO effort to accrue miles/points with, because of how legendary the dearth and paucity of their awards is. Of course, my avoidance – bordering on a boycott – also has to do with their tendency to lead the way in the industry with every change and devaluation concept to screw their loyalists, which unfortunately eventually get adopted by the other majors as well. The other news, just a few days ago, that they were forcing ExpertFlyer to remove ALL Delta fare and award information is just another indication of their sneering contempt for people attempting to do business with them in an informed fashion. And given what I saw at FTU Tampa when Gary & Ben called the Delta reps up and showed what an ignorant laughing-stock they are, without ExpertFlyer you have no valid information at all to work with. In all, I’d go as far as to say that I have the least favorable impression of Delta that I hold for ANY airline in the world, and nearly any company in any industry period. So I may make use of this technique if the dates happen to work out for someone wanting to come out to visit Hawaii with me, but I’m not holding my breath.

  10. Scott – I think you are being unfairly harsh. Delta flights are often on time, their flight attendants and crews are professional, polite, and provide better service than most other domestic carriers. The cabins are clean and more comfortable than most of those of the other legacy carriers.

    In short, their hard product is fine and arguably better than any other US legacy carrier. It’s their frequent flyer program, and its associated technology, that is awful.

  11. sorry, I’m new to booking partner awards – Must the award ticket be a low mileage award redemption on delta? I looked at flights on delta from PIT to HNL and there are several Business class tickets available, but they are like 157.5k or 180k delta miles. Are these high mileage redemptions available for booking through Korean Air at these great low rates? or must they be the standard number of miles from US to HI (like 90/95*k miles).

  12. do Avios bookings really price out at 50K for “business class” on Alaska and American? I thought those cabins were considered first class and thus would be 75K RT?

  13. Are the “45Ks” the ones considered Saver Awards for Delta? I see green for availability in the Calendar Award view but when I click Next it displays everything in miles so I can’t tell if 45K is considered a low-level saver award.

  14. @ Brandon – 45,000 Skymiles on Delta to Hawaii is their saver award.

  15. So if I see 6 award tickets available for the 45K Skymiles price on the Delta website, does that mean I can just call up Korean Airlines and let them know and they will only charge me 25K per ticket for the same flight??

  16. For the 25,000 points to fly from the West Coast to Hawaii using British Airways Avios, is that strictly off season? The chart shows it is only off season for American Airlines, but does not say when using Avios.

  17. I am hoping to book some award flights to Hawaii next June or July, but I am already seeing terrible award availability from the West Coast, with ridiculously high mileage. I would love to get a round trip flight for under 45K on any of these airlines, but no such luck so far.

  18. @ Brandon – I’m sure we could do some research on flyertalk or elsewhere to find out how to book Delta tickets on Korean, but Darius has already promised us a follow up post “soon” on how to do so. Hopefully he’s working on that now 🙂

  19. I believe Doug is correct. Avois needed from the west coast in premium cabins prices at 75k, not 50k. If only Alaska and AA designated this cabins correctly as business class!

  20. Do NOT xfer UR to Korean in hopes of getting low award seats to Hawaii. DL can not be trusted.

  21. This is a great card for international travel.

  22. Find Delta saver seats in peak times is more difficult than finding a “mermaid” or “unicorn”. People heard it but never saw one..

  23. why can’t you redeem Korean miles on Alaska?

  24. just spent over 2hrs with korean airlines-and from the midwest and east coast-there are no low level awards to OGG the entire year ahead-or so I was told.

  25. Pingback: Fly to Hawaii with Delta in Business Class for only 45,000 miles! |

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  27. Good idea but Avios are cheap to get and easy to use. I have booked more than a dozen flights using Alaska from the West Coast:

    – no booking fee when using the UK call center
    – lot’s of availability especially from SEA and SJC with direct flights to almost every HI airport
    – (almost) free cancellation online (just just loos the $5.60)
    – can be booked for anyone/ anytime

    That’s a long way off the complicated Korean Air booking process on non-existing Delta flights 🙂

  28. I do not see one single ticket for F on DAL for lax-koa-lax….not one for the entire year (or 331 days)

    Am I missing something here? Yes, the price may be cheap in miles, but the product you are “buying” does not exist.

    Please tell me I am wrong, as I would love to fly in an internationally configured flat bed plane to KOA.

  29. Isn’t Korean Air a partner with Hawaiian airlines? HAL has great award availability, is there any reason you would want to redeem on DL instead of HAL?

  30. I just tried to transfer my ultimate rewards points to Korean air to get a delta award ticket to the Virgin Islands. Apparently Korean Air is no longer a partner with Ultimate rewards. The Ultimate rewards agent told me this on the phone, and there is no Korean air option in the list of Ultimate rewards partners. Is this true? Any idea when they might make them a partner again soon? Should I just book my ticket through Ultimate rewards? It will cost me double the $25000 you describe in this post. 🙁

  31. I just called Korean Air and booked 3 flight tickets using 25K award miles each from Los Angeles to Cancun, and the government fee and taxes are $123 per person. Just FYI so you have an idea.

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  33. Your competitive reward chart isn’t 100% accurate. Using BA Avios I was able to redeem a 1 way award ticket on Alaska from San Diego to Maui in 1st class for just 37,500 miles.

  34. It can be done. I managed to book 4 RT tickets from HNL->MCO with a stopover in LAX for 25k miles each with taxes of $22.40pp ($89.60 total). And this was over Thanksgiving to boot!

  35. Does the 25K redemption only on Delta ? Can I redeem on Hawaiian Air as well since it’s also Korean Air partner

  36. I’m trying to find Delta business class JFK – HNL round trip to book on Korean. How do I search for availability (and know if it’s bookable with Korean)?


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