Hawaii via the longest route possible + an AMEX free companion certificate in 1st class

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hawaiian islands

This has been a busy week of booking for me after grabbing Lufthansa 1st class seats last night. I am beyond thrilled that I have now have burned up all but a few hundred of my United points. This next one I have booked cannot really be called a mileage run since a mileage run is just for the points and purists will say making a vacation of the trip stops it from being a mileage run anyway. Plus there is the cost; for a run to be a run it has to be a decent CPM or cost per mile.

Then again, when your wife tells you she is game to fly along if the goal is good enough (i.e. her goal someplace warm – my goal lots of MQMs) then you see just what you can make work. As I blogged about before, the IAH-HNL price was good and why not add a few MQMs toward 2015 flying year as I will need MQMs then as well. I paid for coach tickets to Hawaii but with 3 connections each way. But how do I position to IAH from South Bend plus there is lodging and transportation to look at. Here is what I have booked.

companion crert1

I decided to burn one of my two BOGOF certs from my Delta AMEX Reserve card and to book it in first class to get to IAH. This was not the least expensive route but there are some perks and first class travel and it was only a few hundred more compared to coach anyway. I definitely got max value out of the annual fee I paid for my AMEX card by redeeming it this way.

companion crert2

Another perk of booking in first is that as the primary flyer on the cert I gets some bonus MQMs and RDMs for the fare class. Plus, I soften the blow of all those legs (for my wife) by starting this craziness in first class as well as ending it the same way! I will split the reservation for the trip to Hawaii so most of the legs should clear for me as a Diamond Medallion and maybe a few for her as a Gold Medallion. Either way, she will be up front and I will be in back if we don’t both clear. Across the water we are both stuck in back but it is only 5-ish hours from the coast and we have front row Economy Comfort seats.

On to the car. I have been saving up my Hertz points via different means and so the car will almost be free each day other than about $10 tax and gas. I may even just skip the car and UBER and take local transit. I am set either way we go.

spend c1 points

Next my Hotel. I had already burned all my Hilton points other than about 13k. My wife, on the other hand, still had a bunch but was still just a few points short for our redemption. For $25 I sent over 10k to her account to get the booking done. Plus, I paid the fee with my Capital One card and the charge came through as lodging so had that fee covered with points. Lisa as a Hilton Gold will get us some nice perks and wifi and maybe a small upgrade. Either way the room will be free on points. Also we will overnight in IAH on the way there and back and have that covered with SPG points.

Bottom line is the airfare for the 5 legs out and 5 legs back set me back $1567 total for the both of us. Not cheap but not bad either for two tickets to Hawaii much of the trip in 1st class. The rewards are nice too. It is hard to put a price on 3 days in the islands in the middle of winter but I can put a price on the points. Take a look.


I will personally haul in 13,508 MQMs for both round trips. Lisa will get some MQMs but they are pretty much worthless as she will not fly on many more paid tickets in 2014. However the Skymiles we both get have great value. The total, for the both of us, is a whopping 52,321 Skymiles that included 2x points for paying for the tickets with my Delta Reserve AMEX card. At one cent each Skymile (I value mine at 2-3 cents each personally) I am getting $523 back in value bringing my net cost to fly down to $1044! Net result is a 7.7CPM so not exactly a mileage run but more a vacation with perks :-)!

Now I am not telling you that you should try to do something as silly as this but at least you can see my methodology to mix a vacation and “family run” and still get value toward building my MQMs for the following mileage year! – René

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  1. You said you “split the reservation for the trip to Hawaii.” I assume that means that you made separate reservations for your wife and yourself, rather than both on one reservation. Is the probability of getting upgraded higher that way?

  2. @RJCAthens – yes. To make two reservations out of one, then just LINK the two. As a DM I will upgrade likely and my wife as a GM maybe. Either way she gets the big seat!

  3. Can you spreadsheet breakdown how you got all those points on Delta, sorta lost!


    1,000 – booking bonus Delta.com
    14,621 – actual miles flown
    14,621 – x2 bonus for using Delta Amex
    etc etc?

  4. Rene, I’ve always wondered – why don’t you get the AMEX PRG to get 3x MR (3x skymiles without bonus) rather than 2x skymiles on your tickets with Delta AMEX?

  5. All that traveling for only 3 days in Hawaii? Doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, especially considering the 5 hour time difference. Seems like a mileage run to me with warm weather benefits.

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