Hawaii is a hugely popular destination for Australian travellers, but getting there with frequent flyer points can be a huge challenge. Frequent flyer reward seats to Hawaii can be very limited indeed, particularly in Business class. So, what are your options for getting from Australia to Hawaii with frequent flyer points?
There are currently three airlines flying directly between Australia and Hawaii. Qantas operates from Sydney to Honolulu, while Jetstar flies from both Sydney and Melbourne. Hawaiian Airlines also flies to Australia, operating from both Sydney and Brisbane to Honolulu.
Although Qantas currently employs the older-style Sky Beds on its Honolulu route, the aircraft will be upgraded to a refurbished A330 with Business Suites from late January 2017. This will make for an excellent Business class product, but award availability remains a real issue. Qantas does not generally release seats in Business on this route, although it will occasionally release a limited number of seats in the months prior to the flight.
Economy awards with Qantas are considerably easier, however, with seats released on most flights.
If you don’t mind flying Jetstar, their flights may open more options up if using Qantas points. Award seats on Jetstar’s flights to Hawaii are generally released around 308 days in advance, or approximately 10 months before the flight. There are usually a reasonable number of seats available, including in Business class, if booked well in advance. Plus, the number of points needed is slightly lower than the cost of an equivalent award booking flying Qantas. The main catch is that Jetstar’s Business class product is widely regarded as inferior to Qantas’. The catering and service with Jetstar Business is good, but the seats are leather recliners set out in a 2-3-2 configuration. More like Premium Economy seats on other airlines, they are not the most comfortable option for a long flight.
I’d not recommend JQi long haul unless you can score front row bulkhead seats. Even then the seat itself becomes somewhat uncomfortable a few hours into the flight. Food has done a noticeable decline over the years. But champagne has been on the menu for a while now. But that, along with excellent staff, are the highlights.
Hawaiian Airlines flights can be booked using Virgin Velocity points, although you’ll need to ring up to check for availability and book. Hawaiian award flights don’t appear on Virgin Australia’s website. Again, there is usually reasonable award availability in Economy – but Business class is much harder to get. If they’re made available at all, Business reward seats tend to only be bookable a few months prior to the flight. If you are lucky enough to score a Hawaiian Business seat though, the product is very good.
We used velocity points to fly business on Hawaiian- it was great on the recliners so I imagine it will be fantastic with the new lay flat beds that have been announced for them.
Failing all of that, there is one final option. You can also use your Qantas points to fly on Fiji Airways. Award availability on Fiji Airways is generally excellent, and the taxes are also very low. The main catch is that there’ll be two en-route stops – one in Nadi, and another in either Apia or Kiritimati.
If you don’t mind travelling via NAN, you can sometimes get J seats on FJ using QF points.
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