Hawaii. How to get the best fare.

The other day, I mentioned about travelling from Europe to Hawaii (as opposed to from the UK) as you will nearly always get a better deal.

But how do you know where and when?

There are a couple of useful links that I use to find out what deals are out there at the moment.  Firstly, there’s the Premium Fare Deals forum on Flyertalk.  This is a pretty random collection of fare deals from all over the world.  Occasionally some interesting ones pop up, but it’s worth subscribing to the daily digest email.

Secondly, and more specifically, the British Airways forum on Flyertalk maintains a specific tier point run thread.  That’s also super useful, but there are some ways that you can search yourself if there’s nothing that suits you currently.

There are some general rules of thumb which I outline below.

The cheapest deals in business class will generally be found during these specific date windows (you only need to fly outbound during these windows):

  • July and August (plus or minus a week)
  • The week of Thanksgiving (23rd to 30th November)
  • Easter (end of March to mid-April)

The reason for these dates is that business travel substantially drops off during these periods, meaning the business class cabins are a lot emptier than they would be.  Ironically, being peak holiday season, economy can be very expensive during these periods meaning there’s only a small supplement for business class.

The other things you need to consider are to make sure you pick a valid routing (which I’ve touched on already), and also to make sure that there’s availability in the right booking class.

I’ll go into detail about how airlines manage and control inventory in a later article, but for the meantime, here are a couple of tools that you can use to search for good value flights.

Google Flights is one of the best sites for finding these deals.  What makes it very useful is that you can search multiple origins at the same time.  A more advanced version of this tool is ITA Matrix, but again, I’ll cover that in a future article.

For example, if you look at the screenshot below, I’m searching for flights from Dublin, Copenhagen and Stockholm to Honolulu, in business class, during July.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 10.38.18
Screenshot from Google Flights search page

What’s nice, is you can filter by alliance.  If your reason for going is to get BA tier points or Avios, then select “oneworld”.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 10.41.12
Screenshot from Google Flights

Another very useful feature is the ability to view two months fares in one go.  If you click on the departure date, then a calendar will appear, listing all of the fares for that month, and the next month.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 10.41.44
Google Flights low fare finder

As you can see from the calendar, if I were to depart on the 13th, rather than the 12th, I’d be saving myself about £20.

Looking at the flight display, Google will give me a number of options to choose from, including what it deems as the “best flights”.  However it’s really important to look closely at the routings if tier points are your primary objective.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 10.45.51
Google Flight best fare results display

For example, looking at the first two examples, we can see that one routes via Chicago (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX) and the other in Philadelphia (PHL) and Los Angeles.

If we were to travel via Chicago, you’d get substantially fewer tier points as Chicago to Los Angeles is under 2,000 miles, where as Philadelphia to Los Angeles is over 2,000 miles.

Clicking on the price then takes you to a screen to select your return journey.  Again, routing is key – you might need to click on the drop down to show more options.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 10.50.15
Google Flights return flights display

In this case, take a look at the options:

  • Connecting in DFW and CLT will give you lots of flat bed, but fewer tier points.
  • Connecting in PHX and CLT will give you the least flat beds and fewer tier points so is probably the worst option here.
  • Routing via DFW and JFK could be ok as you’ll get a flat bed from Hawaii to Dallas, but fewer points.
  • The best option is via LAX and JFK.  You’ll get a flat bed from Los Angeles to New York and you’ll have three segments over 2,000 miles, maximising your tier points.

Once you’ve chosen the return option, you’ll be presented with a price and a link to book.

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Google flights booking link

Clicking through, will then (for example) take you through to the American Airlines website where you can book.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 10.55.00
American Airlines price review page

If you want something more complex, or tweaked to fit your specific needs, then you are probably best off calling the airline and talking through with an agent what you need.  However it’s important to note that similar itineraries may not have the right availability, in the right fare classes to yield the same price.

I’ll show you how to check that in a future article so stay tuned!


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