As some of you may know, Virgin America is going to be starting service from San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL) and Kahului, Maui (OGG) on December 3rd of this year.
Many of you might be planning Christmas in the tropics, so I thought it’d be fun to test the partners and see how many miles it would cost to get there. None of them have updated their charts, yet award seats ARE currently available. (Several dates are available in February and a good portion in March. Keep in mind this is also when cash fares are cheapest: ~$300 round-trip from the West Coast).
I started with one of my favorite call centers, Singapore Airlines.
The agent, Janice, was very pleasant and told me that she’d call me back within 48 hours after their pricing department had a chance to evaluate the new route.
Sure enough (and this is how awesome Singapore is), the same agent called me back! She told me that they had a chance to price the route and it came back as
20,000 Singapore miles each way in main cabin / economy (awesome!) and 85,000 in First (not so awesome).
In a very timely fluke, Singapore JUST updated their Virgin America Chart, and prices are slightly less than what I was quoted. One-way awards are now 19,000 in coach, 36,000 in main cabin select, and 79,000 in first. This also means you can now redeem from any of the cities on the West Coast and Central US (including Austin, Dallas, and Chicago) while connecting through SFO to Hawaii as one award instead of two. The award cost has actually dropped for some parts of the country!
How does this compare to using Singapore Airlines miles for travel on United? Well Krisflyer charges 17,500 miles one-way or 35,000 round-trip for travel in economy and 60,000 miles round-trip in business. Both are great deals, but economy class travel on Virgin America is 3,000 miles more round-trip and may be a better experience.
Fortunately Singapore’s miles are easy to get as they are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (yes, all four!).
So Singapore’s KrisFlyer program is a great option for using miles to get to Hawaii on Virgin America (and United). If fact, Singapore’s award chart trumps United’s own award chart on nearly every itinerary in North America, especially with no close-in booking fees, a low $30 SGD fee to cancel and an even lower $12 SGD fee to change a ticket (Singaporean dollars are each worth ~70 US cents). I’ll take those options any day.
Singapore Airlines is a great option for redeeming a few more miles vs. United’s chart but also fly a much nicer carrier to the island paradise. Get free entertainment, decent Wi-Fi, and better snacks for 1,500 miles more each way by redeeming Singapore miles for travel on Virgin America instead of United!
Looking for other ways to get to Hawaii? Check out the next piece in this series covering another not-widely-known frequent flyer program.