How to Fly to Hawaii for Cheap in 2024 (from the Mainland US)

by Jon Miksis
Airplane flying over Na Pali Coast in Hawaii
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Dreaming of watching the sunset from a Hawaiian beach, hiking up volcanic peaks, or exploring lush rainforests? Hawaii is a bucket-list destination for good reasons, but let’s face it, getting there isn’t cheap. However, what if I told you that a trip to Hawaii could be more affordable than you think?

In this guide, I’m excited to share some insider tips and tricks to help you find the best deals on flights to Hawaii in 2024. I typically save hundreds of dollars per flight using the travel hacks below…so you’ll definitely want to listen up!

From knowing when to book to tapping into flight deal tools, we’ve got you covered. So whether you’re planning to surf in Honolulu, relax in Maui, or explore the Big Island, let’s make that Hawaiian dream trip a reality without spending a fortune on airfare!

Travel tips to fly to Hawaii on a budget

1. Sign up for Going.com Premium

For over four years now, Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) has been my secret weapon for snagging deals on airfare.

Going is a membership site and app that helps you find discounted flights from your preferred airports. By subscribing to their alerts (via email or app), you’ll get notified when deals become available. This includes Mistake Fares and points and miles deals that you won’t find anywhere else.

There are three versions of GoingLimited, Premium, and Elite. The limited/free version is great for finding deals in the continental US. But to find epic deals to Hawaii, you’ll need to level up to the $49/year premium version. In my experience, you will make 5x your money back after booking just one flight. I recommend trying their free trial, and if you love it as much as I do, use my code JON20 for a 20% discount.

Flying business class to Hawaii? Then I recommend upgrading to the Elite version. It’s $199 per year and gives you access to business class, first class, and premium economy deals around the world. Just last year, I saved $3,000 on Emirates and $1,300 on Lufthansa business class thanks to Going. So ya, it definitely pays for itself!

2. Fly during the low season

Want to score fantastic deals on flights to Hawaii? It all comes down to timing. By choosing to fly during the low season, you not only avoid the crowds but also tap into some of the best prices of the year.

When is the low season?

The low season in Hawaii generally falls during two periods:

  • Late spring (April to early June): After the spring break rush but before the summer vacation crowd.
  • Fall (September to mid-November): After the summer peak and before the winter holiday influx.

During these times, demand for flights and accommodations drops, which can lead to significantly reduced prices. Airlines are keen to fill seats, often slashing prices or offering enticing deals.

Fly to Hawaii in the off season for the cheap rates and minimal crowds
Fly to Hawaii in the off season for the cheap rates and minimal crowds

How much can you save?

Traveling to Hawaii during these off-peak times can lead to savings of up to 30-50% on airfare compared to peak season rates. For example, round-trip flights to Honolulu from West Coast cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco can dip as low as $250, whereas they might range from $400 to $500 during the high season.

Additional tips for low season travel

  • Monitor flight prices: Use tools like Google Flights or Going.com to set alerts. These services will notify you when prices drop to your preferred destinations, ensuring you never miss a deal.
  • Consider lesser-known airlines: Don’t just stick to major carriers like Delta and United; sometimes, smaller airlines like Alaska Airlines or even international carriers offer spectacular deals during these less busy months. Hawaiian Airlines is also a great option!
Sample flight deal via Skyscanner
Sample flight deal via Skyscanner

3. Search for flights from the right departure cities

Finding a good deal on flights to Hawaii often starts with selecting the right departure airport. Here’s a quick look at how choosing specific airports can lead to significant savings:

Best departure airports for flight deals to Hawaii

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): As a major hub, LAX frequently offers the most competitive fares to Hawaii. Travelers can often find round-trip tickets for as low as $250 to $300, especially during sales.
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO): Regularly features deals on Hawaiian routes, particularly on United Airlines. Expect to find deals ranging from $250 to $350 round-trip.
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA): Known for frequent deals through Alaska Airlines, SEA offers flights to Hawaii that often range between $300 and $400 round-trip.
  • Portland International Airport (PDX): Smaller in traffic but sometimes offers similar or lower prices than SEA, especially on Delta and Hawaiian Airlines, with fares sometimes dipping below $400 round-trip during promotional periods.

Advice for east coast travelers

Are you from the East Coast like me? Sure, you’ll often find higher prices due to the longer distance. However, there are strategies to mitigate costs:

  • Focus on major hubs: Airports like JFK and Newark often have competitive fares due to the volume of flights. Prices to Hawaii can range from $500 to $700 round-trip during low season. Seasonally, you can also find direct flights from Boston to Honolulu for under $650 roundtrip with Hawaiian Airlines. Again, setting up an account on Going will help you find the best deals.
  • Consider positioning flights: Sometimes, booking a separate domestic flight to a West Coast city like Los Angeles or San Francisco and then flying to Hawaii from there can save money. I’ve done this before to break up the long haul flight, and let me tell you: it’s a great way to squeeze in a mini trip on the west coast!
Flying over Hawaii during sunset

4. Take advantage of airline miles programs

Using airline miles can dramatically reduce the cost of your flights to Hawaii. Whether you’ve accumulated points through credit card rewards or frequent flyer programs, knowing how to maximize these benefits can often allow you to fly for virtually free. Here’s how to make the most of your miles for a trip to Hawaii.

Choosing the right airline program

  • Hawaiian Airlines: HawaiianMiles is the flagship carrier’s loyalty program, and it’s perfect for flights between the islands and from the mainland to Hawaii. One-way economy flights from the West Coast start around 20,000 miles, which is a great deal considering the cash price of these tickets.
  • Alaska Airlines: With its extensive network from the West Coast to Hawaii, Alaska Airlines offers excellent redemption options. Mileage Plan members can book one-way flights to Hawaii for as low as 15,000 miles during off-peak periods.
  • United Airlines: United’s MileagePlus program offers good value for flights to Hawaii, especially from its hubs like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Expect to redeem around 22,500 miles one-way for economy.
  • American Airlines: Through AAdvantage, flights to Hawaii can be booked for as low as 20,000 miles one-way if you catch one of their MileSAAver deals. Again- I highly recommend signing up for Going Premium to see each airline’s miles and points deals.

Tips for maximizing airline miles

  1. Sign up for bonus offers: Many airlines offer significant sign-up bonuses for their co-branded credit cards. I also recommend signing up for travel rewards credit cards. My go-to is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. These bonuses can sometimes be enough for a round-trip ticket to Hawaii if managed correctly.
  2. Be flexible with travel dates: Miles redemption availability can vary significantly. Being flexible with your travel dates increases the likelihood of finding low-mileage award tickets.
  3. Use stopovers and open jaws: Some airlines, like Alaska, allow stopovers on award tickets. You could fly into Honolulu, have a stopover for a few days, then continue to another island before returning home for the same number of miles as a direct flight.
  4. Transfer points from credit cards: If you have a credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou Points, you can transfer those points to several airline partners. This flexibility can help you top up your account if you’re short on miles directly through the airline.
  5. Consider upgrading instead of buying outright with miles: Sometimes, if you’ve purchased an economy ticket, it’s worth checking the upgrade options using miles. Upgrading to business class can often offer tremendous value for your miles compared to flying in economy.
  6. Watch for transfer bonuses: Occasionally, credit card programs offer bonuses for transferring points to airlines. A 25% bonus on transferred points can add up quickly and significantly boost your mileage balance.
Epic view of Hawaiian airport

5. Find cheap inter-island flights

Looking to hit multiple islands in Hawaii? To save big, timing matters…a lot. Here’s how to find the best deals on these flights and make island hopping more affordable.

Timing your flights

  • Avoid peak times: Just like mainland flights, the timing of inter-island flights can significantly impact costs. Flights during peak commuter times, such as early mornings (7-9AM) and late afternoons (5-7PM), are typically more expensive. This is when business travelers are most active. Additionally, Fridays and Sunday evenings see a spike in prices with locals moving between islands for weekend getaways.
  • Choose off-peak hours: To get the best rates, aim for midday or late evening flights during weekdays. These times are less popular for both business travelers and weekend vacationers, resulting in lower prices.

Selecting the right airline

  • Major vs. commuter airlines: While Hawaiian Airlines offers extensive connectivity and frequent services, smaller commuter airlines like Mokulele Airlines often have cheaper options. These airlines operate smaller planes and offer competitive pricing, especially useful for shorter hops.
  • Southwest airlines: Don’t overlook Southwest for inter-island travel. Known for its no-frills, low-cost approach, Southwest can be a budget-friendly option, particularly if you catch one of their sales or use their Rapid Rewards points.

> Pro Tip: To avoid having to spend hours upon hours looking for cheap flights to Hawaii, I highly recommend signing up for Going. While the free version is great for continental US economy deals, the Premium version is what you’ll need to find best-value flights to Hawaii, including credit card points and airline mile deals.

Recent deals from Mainland US Airport to Hawaii (2024)

At the time of writing this article, here are some recent deals to Hawaii from major US airports:

  • JFK to KOA for $451 (via Going)
  • LAX to OGG for $235 (via Going)
  • DFW to KOA for $358 (via Going)
  • ORD to OGG for $390 (via Going)
  • DEN to LIH for $352 (via Going)
Flying to Hawaii on the cheap
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