Hello all, Anyone want to give a total flyertalk noob some advise? My wife and I have been talking about visiting Hawaii for what seems like forever so we finally decided we're going to commit and make it happen. What recently pushed us to take the plunge is some reletaves of ours are moving near waikiki due to work for the next two years. They already insist that we come visit and stay with them for free while we're out there. I figured why not island hop to Maui since we'll be out there anyway.
My goal is to fly myself, my wife and my 10yr old son to HNL from PIT for 7 days then to an undecided Maui condo/hotel for another 3 days then back to PIT as inexpensively as possible. I'm willing to spend a bit to stay in Maui if need be. We can travel any time between March through July of 2014.
So here is where I mostly need my guidance. I currently have 0 points for anything but I just signed up for and got approved for the 2x 35,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles. My wife will do the same after we meet the spending requirements for mine. Giving us ~140,000 by the time we should be booking the flights. I'm not sure what other points I should go for. We looked around and it seems like the only flights to get to hawaii from PIT would be through connections on Delta, United or American Airlines or we could go to JFK and use our Hawaiian points for a direct flight from there.
Sorry for the walls of text but any beginner guidance would be appreciated. Also, thanks in advanced for all of the awesome info that's already available from fellow flyertalkers.
ALOHA! Congrats on your decision to go to Hawaii. First, let's talk about flights. You have three options. 1). Use the miles for coach class award tickets. There is a small fee. 2). Use miles for a first class award ticket. There is a small fee. Mileage awards vary due to travel dates, availability, etc. 3). Buy a coach ticket, use 30,000 miles each for a round trip upgrade. The fee is either $300 or $350 round trip.
I would recommend first class. That said, check out the airlines and seats. Your looking for pitch (distance between the seats) and recline (may be given in inches or listed in degrees.) Your also looking for recliner style seats, lie flat seats (beds) or angled lie flat seats (beds). With any of these options, the sooner the better. Flights that I know that have good first class seats (recliner or angled lie flat seats) round trip into Honolulu are Delta flight 837, American flights 123, 5 and 73. Into Maui, American flight 7. Seasonally, American will offer the aircraft with angled lie flat seats out of Los Angeles.
I believe end of April to the middle of June will be the cheapest for you to fly, regardless of how you pay. Decide on a date and check prices. Here is an example. My friend is in Hawaii now. For her trip, I had been pricing a round trip coach ticket from Boston to Honolulu. For weeks, the only price I could find was $1,200 round trip on every airline. One Sunday morning, I priced out a first class ticket. She flew first class from Boston to Atlanta on a Boeing 737-800 and then from Atlanta to Honolulu on an Airbus 330-300. This aircraft has a lot of room in first class, nice seats, etc. I got this for her for $1,800 round trip. For $600 more, she flew in comfort out and will be flying in comfort on the return.
It is great your staying on Oahu for free. You can use the extra money to stay in a hotel or condo on the beach. Go to www.wizardpub.com. They are an excellent reference source for hotels and condos. They post aerial photos and a review. If you buy their books, they review everything else.
I highly recommend going in March so you can see the whales off Maui. You'll see them right from the bank, but going on a whale watch on a sailboat is awesome.
There are two main tourist areas on Maui: Wailea and Ka'anapali. Wailea is like the Beverly Hills of Hawaii. Ka'anapali is older and attracts more of a middle class. Personally, I prefer Ka'anapali as it has more to do, and most importantly, I like being close to Lahaina harbor. We are on the water quite a bit. That is where a lot of whale watching tours launch from.
Most privately rented condos (e.g. from VRBO.com) have minimum stay requirements during high season, which would be March and June. April and May are low season. However, others can be rented from resort management firms for just 3 nights. I own a timeshare at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, and they're great for families, especially the south side. (Though I'd recommend booking at least on ocean view here because some of the island views overlook the parking lot and highway.) The condos at Honua Kai are pretty new and beautiful. But both of these resorts are north of Ka'anapali Beach, which is tourist central.
If you want to be in the thick of action, then I'd opt for Ka'anapli Alii or Marriott Maui Villas. In Wailea, I'd check out the Polo Beach Club, though the pool isn't nearly as fun as you'll find at the huge hotels such as the Fairmont or Grand Wailea.
Hotels such as the Hyatt, Westin, Four Seasons, and Marriott have great kids' programs. The Hyatt also has a rooftop astronomy program that your son might enjoy.
If you belong to Costco, look to them for deals on hotels and car rentals. They usually give complimentary upgrades or hotel credit. Honestly, you can't go wrong on Maui.
I agree with Recreation in regards to the whales. If you want to see whales, March is a better time to go. Once you hit May, the whales for the most part are gone. As for location, both areas are great. Kaanapali can be, and I say CAN BE, the least expensive of the two. Like anything in this world, when you book makes a difference as to the cost. We recently completed a one week stay at the Kaanapali Alii (condo) on Kaanapali beach. Always wanted to stay there so we did. Very nice location and unit. We have stayed previously at the Marriott (when it was a hotel and as a timeshare) and the Sheraton.
Like Recreation, we prefer the Kaanapali area because it is a five to ten minute drive to Lahaina which has more options for dining and shopping versus the Wailea area. Wailea is a good 30 minute drive to Lahaina on a good day without traffic.
If you are not going for so long you have PLENTY of time to watch for airfare sales to HNL/OGG from not only PIT but PHL, BWI, IAD, DCA, EWR, NYC etc. I watch for them daily and I take my two kids on a whim for a weekend etc. Last year we made three trips on $351 a/i fares (each) on AA. Well they made two trips and I made three
If the fare is cheap enough, it pays to find a way whether drive, train or fly to the departure point.
These fares come every year (out of WAS) at least at $550 a/i or less, usually sub $400 a/i.
nothing is guaranteed but I've caught these every year (sub $550) for the past 8 years.
I'm waiting now, as I'm getting the itch again. Plus I know we are going at the end of August 2013 as well so I will be pulling that trigger the moment I see a sub $400 a/i ticket
you do have to look every day and usually multiple times a day; if you don't then don't be upset if you miss it as its your duty to do this, these sales sometimes only last hours. Its really about how bad do you want to fly on the cheap.
The AA DisAAdvantage - taking over the race to the bottom
I agree with Recreation in regards to the whales...
Me too. We were in Maui in early March and really enjoyed our whale watch tour. We saw a baby humpback jumping out of the water with its mother (according to the guide) swimming close by. I wondered whether the whales were bothered by the boats but it seemed like they were voluntarily coming over to check us out while the boat was dead in the water.
Hi all, thanks for all of the great replies and suggestions. Sorry I bailed on this thread for so long as I posted it when I first found out about this wonderful forum and got absorbed into reading up and forgot about this for a while! Anyway we have decided that we will be taking our trip in mid June as it will be easiest on my son while he's on his summer break.
As far as seats are concerned we're more focused on just getting there in general than flying first or business class. I have read a lot that that attitude will probably change over time but with my son it makes it pretty tough to get my reward points up that high on credit card signups. I work for a local school district so I don't travel for work at all.
We have decided that we probably are going to stay at the grand wailea for four days while we are in Maui as my wife and I have accumulated 145k Hawaiian miles or 290k HHoners points already and we are currently working towards building up AAdvantage miles and expect to have at least 150,000 miles (Hopefully 200k by booking)
Whale watching sounds awesome but it seems we will be out of season for that. The only must do activity we are planning so far is my wife really wants to watch a Haleakala sunrise.
Programs: Marriott Silver/Gold, Best Western, Choice, AS, DL, UA, WN
Is your relative in the military...thus a 2 yr deployment there?
If so they would have access to some housing options you wouldn't have access to.
In terms of booking your trip....look just to book your flight to HNL and return from OGG then pay separately for the inter island flight. The inter island can be gotten for about $75 one way.
Is there a reason you want to go to Maui? Would you want to do the big island and see the active volcano and kona coffee?
Something to plan for this summer if you are targeting to go in June 2014.....this could change but as of now each of those two island has a cat 4 Marriott that you can use free night certs on. Lately they have been offered so they are good for a year from date awarded.
PM sent on my relative. That is the plan so far to land in HNL and return from OGG. My wife and I just kind of mutually agreed on Maui. I originally wanted to visit the big island but I hear you can spend a lot of driving time there and we would prefer the second half of our trip to be more relaxing as we have lots of activities planned for Oahu.