62%-Off Hawaiian Airlines First Class | How We Pulled It Off

How We Saved 62% On Hawaiian Airlines First Class

Sixty-two percent off Hawaiian First Class!? Here are the tricks we used for significant savings, so you can too.

Who doesn’t want a chance to fly First Class on flights to Hawaii? But if you’re a frugal traveler like we all are at BOH, it only happens with an upgrade or finding an incredible deal before pulling the trigger. Today we will tell you how we saved about two-thirds on first-class tickets on Hawaiian Airlines without using a mileage upgrade or anything else.

Careful up and down of monitoring for Hawaii airfare price changes.

First you should know that these same tricks work whether you are shopping for economy, premium economy or busines/first class. The original price Jeff found for his nonstop flight to Los Angeles from Kauai looked like this: $1,659 per person one-way, completely out of the question for him. That’s when he bought the cheaper economy tickets via Honolulu on Alaska Airlines for $239 and used an upgrade certificate he had to First. While that saved money, it also meant purchasing an interisland ticket from Kauai to HNL and having a 3-hour layover in Honolulu in case of any trouble making the connection. Ugg.

62%-Off Hawaiian Airlines First Class | How We Pulled It Off

Upon receiving a Google Flights Alert Jeff set, which is easy to do, he found a lower price on the nonstop he wanted from Kauai, and he wasted no time buying when he saw the earlier $1,659 price had suddenly been reduced to $630.

But here’s the catch. The deal seemed to be gone when he tried to buy two tickets. But when Jeff decided to purchase one ticket at a time, he got the advertised fare. Otherwise, trying to buy two simultaneously, the price went sky-high again.

62%-Off Hawaiian Airlines First Class | How We Pulled It Off

After purchasing the tickets for $630, Jeff immediately received another notification that the price had gone back up again, this time to $876.

Moral of the story: Hawaii ticket prices aren’t fixed in stone. You have to be creative to outsmart the airlines.

Among other tricks, Jeff constantly monitors his flights using the alert function on Google Flights. You set up the flights, dates, class of service, and one-way or round-trip that you are looking for and then toggle on alerts, that are then sent to the Google email you are logged in to when searching. When he received an alert that the price of his desired Lihue to Los Angeles nonstop had dropped by nearly 62%, he couldn’t help but pursue it further.

DOT provides 24 hours to change your mind when buying airline tickets.

Tickets sold in the U.S. automatically come with the ability to cancel a reservation within the first 24 hours after purchase, so long as there are seven days before the actual flight date. That way, if you act on a deal and find out it’s not the deal you want, or you buy one ticket and then can’t purchase the second one you need, you can still cancel within 24 hours. That worked on another flight recently when Jeff thought he’d bought Business Class and saw it had changed to Economy when the ticket was actually issued, which meant it was no longer the great deal he thought.

US Department of Transportation Rules:

You can cancel a ticket reservation or purchase within the first 24 hours of booking. That is “For airline tickets purchased at least seven days before a flight’s scheduled departure date and time.”

Airlines are required to provide one of the following options:

1. “Allow consumers to cancel their reservation and receive a full refund without a penalty for 24 hours, or”

2. “Allow consumers to reserve a ticket (place it on hold) at the quoted prices without paying for the ticket for 24 hours.”

Both options aren’t required, just one, and we find that most airlines offer a free refund instead of a free fare hold.

Be sure to understand your selected airline’s policy before purchasing a ticket!

How does this rule apply to tickets purchased through an online travel agency (or an in-person travel agent)?

US DOT says, “No, the 24-hour refund/reservation requirement for airlines does not apply to tickets booked through online travel agencies, travel agents, or other third-party agents. However, these agents are free to apply similar procedures to provide equivalent or similar customer service.”

For us, this vagueness and the potential difficulty in obtaining a refund from an online travel agency precludes them as an option when buying tickets in all but the most extreme circumstances.

Back to the case in point, it was a no-brainer to buy one ticket at $629 and see if another would mysteriously become available sometime within the next 24 hours.

Guess what? It did. And we were able to buy it right after the first ticket. Had it not, Jeff would have just called Hawaiian Airlines and canceled the first ticket.

Share the best airfare deal tricks you’ve found to get to Hawaii.

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9 thoughts on “How We Saved 62% On Hawaiian Airlines First Class”

  1. Booked a hotel today at the Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki. Was charged %543.00 for the room, $423.00 for taxes & fees. Now, I find out from the hotel, after booking, there is an additional $359.00 charge which a $100.00 security deposit will be refunded upon check out. I inquired what the additional $259.00 was for. I was told it was a cleaning fee that was being charged to clean the room. Please someone tell me when you got charged a fee to clean your room upon check out. What happened to the Aloha spirit? Now it’s who can Con a guest faster. This is not a 4* hotel.

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  2. Dear BOH,

    Thanks for your informative article with excellent tips on how to score great savings. I have been tracking prices on Hawaiian and notice a lot if fluctuation, sometimes hourly, on the HNL/SFO route.

    Slightly off the topic, but have you noticed a lot of flight cancelations for HA12 (HNL to SFO)? It’s Hawaiian Air’s daily and only non-stop from HNL to SFO. I counted 4 cancelations within the last 14 days. This also results in 4 cancelations for HA11, the turnaround return flight from SFO to HNL. I also noticed HA12 on Monday 5/08 has an equipment change from the wide body A330 to the single aisle A321. Are you aware of anything happening within HA that causing these disruptions?

    1. Hi Jon.

      Thanks for asking. We too, did notice the four cancellations in about a week, followed by the single downgrade to A321. Since then, the flight appears to be operating normally, and we don’t have any more information about what might have happened. Indeed, it was very frustrating for up to 1000 or more passengers.

      Aloha.

  3. When will Hawaiian offer deals from the mainland to the islands for late summer? I get emails with airfare specials but so far the furthest out is June.

  4. Try to play with different days (i.e. mid week days) and date ranges. On Hawaiian Airlines website, they have the calendar feature that you can play around to see prices’ trend. I was able to get a $499 ticket per person from Boston-HNL-Lihue (Kauai)for 3 people when searched for 13 days trip for Thurs flight from Boston vs $1100-$1600 other days.

    Of course monitor the prices months in advance. I found the airlines’ pricing are very tricky now aday as mentioned in the article that the deal might work when purchase one but not two or even purchase it minutes after. It fluctuates so much.

  5. Aloha Jeff and Rob! It all comes down to supply and demand. Tickets priced way too high, the demand will go down along with the prices, eventually.

  6. This also applies to award tickets (sort of)
    1st class from LAX-HNL-LIH we’re going for 80,000 miles. For some reason they dropped to 40,000 for a couple of days. I was lucky and was able to snag 2 of them.

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  7. Whew. Yes, I have had some great luck getting air deals in the way past. But, it took so much time effort, and work. I was younger and saved so much money and was able to fly to Hawaii quite often. Now, I just dont have all this energy to play this game, and being older, if I screw up, it will be a loss instead of a gain. Wish i could just get a good deal without all this game.

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