Planning a trip to Hawaii – Part 1

Planning 1 | Planning 2 | Planning 3 | Travel | Disneyland  (1234) | Arrival | Surfing | Aulani | Excursion | Hyatt

This will be a three part discussion on planning a future trip.

After much family discussion (and crying on my part), it was decided that instead of redoing our fantastic Alaska cruise, we would visit Hawaii for a future vacation.  Honestly, nobody was too upset considering how much Disney wanted for a verandah stateroom on the Wonder (north of $10,000).  With all the airline miles and hotel points we had accumulated over the past two years, a trip to Hawaii shouldn’t be nearly as expensive.

The expenses will break down as follows:

  • Flights for 4 to/from Hawaii
  • Lodging while in Hawaii
  • Ground Transportation
  • Food
  • Excursions while in Hawaii

Flights for 4 to/from Hawaii

We had accumulated 360,000 United Miles and about 300,000 American Airline Miles.  We definitely wanted to fly in business class since the flight time was a minimum of 10 hours.  Currently, business class saver awards on United costs 40,000 miles each way per person.  If we could find four saver awards on United for everyone, then we would burn just United miles on round trip tickets (40,000 per award * 4 people * 2 for round trip = 320,000).  So, the search started on the United web site for award availability.  We almost immediately hit a snag in that we wanted to go during the busy summer vacation season.  Several days of looking at various options turned up very low availability directly from a Washington, DC airport to Honolulu on United.  Even checking for flights directly from Newark, NJ, another United hub, didn’t help.  This low availability included the extra award availability we have as Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card holders.  We could have spent 90,000 miles to get a standard business class award ticket, but that would have burned up all of our United miles and only gotten us half of the trip.  It was time to look at other options.

We switched from looking at flights from Washington to Honolulu to looking at West Coast flights to Honolulu, figuring that we could probably easily find a flight to the west coast.  After looking for a few days, some business class seats from Los Angeles to Honolulu leaving on a Saturday became available.  That would work for us, but we had to get to Los Angeles.  We managed to find award space in business class from Reagan National to Los Angeles that left on Monday of the same week.  So, that would give us four full days in Los Angeles.  A quick family meeting confirmed that a visit to Disneyland would be an awesome addition to a trip to Hawaii, so we booked the tickets.

Since the tickets get counted as two separate bookings, we had to use 100,000 miles to get to Los Angeles, then another 160,000 miles to get to Hawaii.  We had hoped to only spend the 160,000 miles to go directly from Washington to Honolulu.   Fortunately, it was cheaper than getting four standard business class award tickets, which would have costs us the 360,000 miles just to get to Honolulu.

Now that we had flights to Hawaii (with a stop in Los Angeles), we had to get home.  With only 80,000 United miles left, it was time to switch airlines and use those American miles.  There was a lot less trouble finding availability back home from Hawaii.  While we had to book a standard award coming back, it was possible to do it for 67,500 miles each to come back into Dulles after staying in Hawaii for 10 days.

So, we were able to get to Hawaii (with a 4 day stop in Los Angeles) for 280,000 miles and get back for 270,000 miles, all of the trips in business class.  We had to pay the 9/11 fees, but we are going round trip to Hawaii for less than $200.

Check back in for Parts Two and Three

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