Old May 17, 18, 12:24 am
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: PWM
Programs: UA Silver
Posts: 966
Trip Report - Island Hopper Ticketing

I stumbled across this wonderful find by @ck3kk last October (actually on my birthday): LAX-SFO-HKG-GUM-TKK-PNI-KSA-MAJ-HNL-LAX for $450 which includes an eastbound island hopper (IH) on the return. Since it’s a HKG fare, you cannot stop in GUM. In fact, the longest connection was 4 hours so I basically flew non-stop for 2.5 days (aka the Lucky method). Ticketed for 11MAY since it was the farthest out (e.g. warmest weather). I did the same for a $450 SAN-EUR fare last year. Although in retrospect, May was almost too warm for the South Pacific.

While I used to live in SAN, I am now in sunny PWM so I had to position (preferably with some recovery time as suggested here). Booked a great revenue sale PWM-EWR-SFO-SAN outbound for $121-- the lowest SAN-PWM fare I’ve ever seen and it stuck around for over a month IIRC! Used a discounted coach award (10k) to get to LAX. Coming back I was going to do LAX-SAN//SAN-PWM but realized that would cost too many miles (22.5k). Remembered that UA has wacky award routings and sure enough, they were selling LAX-SAN(red-eye)ORD-PWM for 12.5k. The only problem was I wanted to stop in SAN, not connect. I took my chances on an SDC. After all, I could still fly home “early” if I felt up to it. Normally I’d book these awards as revenue fares for status but I plan on falling to Silver next year because I’m starting grad school (again).

So one IH and 3 positioning itins later I was all set. Not! While GUM-HNL nonstop is not CPU eligible, the IH segments are. The trouble is in the ticketing. They were ticketed as a direct flight (aka thru flight) and thus, one would need upgrade space on all segments in order to clear. Not good odds. The trick is to split the segments so you can clear individually. I was lucky and got an agent to do a force split on my first call. Shortly after splitting, I checked the upgrade offers. The mileage upgrade (MUA) offer was unbelievable! Only $75+20k miles compared to the regular price of $1200+60k miles. I took it in a heartbeat and all IH segments cleared instantly while the rest were waitlisted.

My biggest fear was misconnecting before I got to the IH segments. Flights to SAN went well. The trouble started with the SAN-LAX. It posted a 30 min ATC delay which we expected to worsen. I got a lovely agent in SAN to rebook me SAN-SFO nonstop (She cancelled the award ticket and changed the first IH itin segment to SAN-SFO). Crisis averted. Rest of it went off without a hitch. SFO-HKG cleared into Polaris at T-24 and HKG-GUM and HNL-LAX were battlefield upgrades. Only coach segment was the impromptu SAN-SFO rebook. Also caught an upgrade on LAX-SAN so that made 9 first class flights in a row

I was gonna wait until SAN to SDC my return but I thought I’d try at LAX. Well the agents can’t really touch award tickets so I had to call in. Got a fabulous agent who pushed my SAN-PWM segments out 2 days so I now had my free stopover LAX-SAN//SAN-EWR-PWM. I really wanted the same itin as my outbound (SAN-SFO-EWR-PWM) for the ps free food (the old fashioned is amazing) so I reticketed that with tight connections (35 and 49 min). There was saver space for both changes. Well that plan went downhill when the SAN-SFO flight posted an ATC delay (seeing a pattern here) that would have blown my connections. Protected on the original itin SAN-EWR-PWM, boarded, rolling ATC delay on tarmac, eventually took off and landed 1 hr late. EWR-PWM was delayed but they soon cancelled it. The next day’s 5 flights were completely booked. I spent the night at a not-so-nearby hotel and trudged back around noon to waitlist for the 12:30 fight out. Was already overbooked and went out even (no SBYs). Thankfully I got on the 3 pm flight and made it back to PWM.

In summary, an eventful trip in all the right places. And I’m done traveling for the year. Thanks to everyone for all the helpful info.

Last edited by sexykitten7; May 18, 18 at 11:27 am Reason: added map, fixed typo/mistakes
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