Warning: This post is very advanced, but the route could be freakin’ awesome.
The key here is that you get two stopovers, and that there is a great price discrepancy using Lufthansa miles on Star Alliance partners for a certain route. Actually, this price discrepency is the key to what makes this route amazing.
I’ll show you how you can visit Hawaii, Guam, Cairns, and Saipan for at most 80,000 miles.
The concept is that Lufthansa’s award chart says that it’s 40,000 miles roundtrip to Hawaii from the US and also 40,000 miles from Hawaii to Oceania/Australia. Which is funny, because it’s 80,000 miles from the US to Oceania Australia. My little ticket booking suggests these are two different roundtrips, thus getting the two stopovers and two open-jaws per roundtrip, twice.
There are two parts to what I’m calling the Trans-Pacific Hopper:
Part A: US to Hawaii for 40,000 miles roundtrip.
Technically, you can get to Hawaii using any set of miles, but we’ll go ahead and discuss this as two Lufthansa tickets because of the stopover benefits that make a “Hopper” trip necessary. But, if you want to, check out the Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii Using Miles.
Part B: Hawaii to Oceania/Australia for 40,000 miles roundtrip.
This is what I’ll focus on for most of this post. Hawaii to Oceania/Australia for 20,000 miles or 40,000 miles roundtrip, and two stopovers for that roundtrip. It’s also great because Air New Zealand is one of the few airlines that Lufthansa doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges with (because it doesn’t have any to pass on).
However, there is one major rule that you need to know before you go assuming that you can route all over earth to get to Oceania or Australia for 40,000 miles. See, the rule is that you if you stop in a third region, the award price is automatically 100,000 miles.
For example, a roundtrip to SE Asia is 80,000 miles but if you stopover in Japan you’re now touching a third region, which will now cost 100,000 miles. That’s only a 20,000 mile increase, but when you compare 40,000 miles roundtrip to 100,000 miles, it’s a big difference!
Therefore the key is to know what constitutes as Oceania/Australia:
Australia (incl. Tasmania), Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Mariana Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tahiti (incl. French Polynesia), Tonga
Here are all the Star Alliance routes within Oceania/Australia and Hawaii…
Looking closely you’ll see that there are only three routes from Hawaii to Oceania. Honolulu to Guam on United, Aukland on Air New Zealand, and to the Marshall Island on United.
The route with the most award availability is easily going to be Honolulu to Guam as the route is daily and not too popular.
The hardest one to find award availability for is to Aukland, New Zealand. It’s practically impossible. Proof:
I don’t foresee a situation worse than that as there is no availability after March 31st. Period.
And guess what? Most of the award availability is via Japan, which doesn’t work for what we’re trying to do.
I’ll leave open the option that United just isn’t showing the availability and Lufthansa could see it.
The third route is Honolulu to Marshall Island. I haven’t written about this in a long time, but I called it the Island Hopper with Miles. I definitely did not come up with this route, United did.
But basically it’s a route that United has that stops at almost every major island in Micronesia. The down side is that you barely get any time on these islands, but still a great experience landing into these Pacific islands. You could make a stopover at one of the islands along the way. Although, I hear not all of them are awesome (like Chuuk is a dump?).
If you look at the map above, there are two routes. One includes Kosrae and the other skips it. On Monday and Friday, United does the route with all 5 stops that includes Kosrae, and on Wed they skip it. The difference for time on the islands is practically nothing, given that either way you can’t leave the airport. Although, these airports are island airports. You’ll likely be outside.
Although, I’m finding this route’s availability is tough for another reason. It’s an international route on a B737-800 that holds 200 people (which is actually bigger than I expected). Availability isn’t terrible, it’s just not as awesome as the Guam flight which is on a 777 and daily. You just have to play around a little.
Wow, that was a long set up.
Those are our three flights out of Hawaii and one of them is pretty void of options. And because of that you may be thinking that your options to Australia/New Zealand are pretty nil, and that’s just not true.
The Coolest Route On This Site
For whatever reason, the miles and points community seems to be anti-cool places (cool places = farflung). I guess since there are no points hotels on Yap and Palau it’s kind of the road less traveled.
I know Stephan, from Rapid Travel Chai, has said that Palau is one of the coolest places he’s been… and he’s been to a lot of cool places. So before I give the route, I’ll pause and share a couple photos of Stephan’s from his Micronesia trip:
Here’s the route. Stopover in Yap, destination in Palau, and stopover in Guam on the way back to Hawaii. From Hawaii the entire trip is 40,000 Lufthansa miles. Then tack on the price back to the mainland US from Hawaii.
If there are two islands I’m dying to hit, it’s Yap and Palau. This would be a dreamy trip for anyone. If there’s one time I ever recommend skipping the points hotels, it’s for this trip.
Although, if you’re still not interested in the path less traveled, I’ll talk points hotels at the end.
The Missing Key
Cairns is pretty well known as a jumping off point for the great barrier reef and other off shore adventures, so it would be a great stop on it’s own. Plus, it could be really tricky to line up availability so you land in Cairns and take off for Aukland, although it is possible in theory. But again… Air New Zealand award availability is terrible.
The Guam to Cairns route is a Sunday and Thursday route landing at 11:40 pm.
Cairns to Auckland is Wed-Sun taking off at 11:50 am. What this means is that you could have a layover in Cairns Thursday night and fly to Aukland Friday morning.
What we’ve got so far is a stopover in Guam, a destination or layover in Cairns, and a stopover in Auckland.
Let me be clear. You are only allowed one stopover with Lufthansa per direction. So if Auckland is your furthest point, you can’t use two stopovers to get there, you can use only one on the way and one coming back. Thus, if you plan to come back the same way, you have to layover in either Guam or Cairns so you only have one stopover.
The other problem with trying this route is that Air New Zealand only seems to fly this route oneway, from Cairns to Auckland. In other words, it doesn’t have any flights from Auckland to Cairns, only from Cairns. (I assume the flight is part of a stop on the way back from Asia).
I have yet to work in either of the two allowed open-jaws. On one roundtrip, you’re allowed two stopovers and two open-jaws.
My guess based on my experience is that, much like United, you’re not allowed to apply the open-jaw on the stopover, but instead the destinations and return/end point.
What this means is that you could open-jaw from Auckland and start getting around using other programs like Virgin or Avios (on Qantas).
Now we could have trip like this…
- With Lufthansa miles: Honolulu to Guam, stopover. Guam to Cairns (stopover?) to Auckland.
- Then Open-Jaw and fill in with Avios (or anything) and then do Cairns to Guam, to Honolulu again.
- For that aforementioned open-jaw use BA Avios: Auckland to Sydney. Sydney to Cairns.
We’re talking 40,000 Lufthansa miles and 9,000 Avios. Nothing.
This could even get more complicated and try to tack on yet another Air New Zealand flight on the same ticket from AKL. Like to Rarotonga or Fiji and try returning to Sydney or Auckland before open-jawing. In other words, make one of the Polynesian islands the destination and open-jaw so you continue your journey home from Sydney or Aukland.
2) Return back via AKL-HNL
If by some miracle you found award space I didn’t (or maybe you just looked longer than 3 minutes), and got an award seat on Air New Zealand back from Auckland, you’re really set.
This is threading the needle of needles, but in theory, you can do the following:
- Start in HNL
- Stopover in Guam or Cairns
- Layover in AKL
- Destination in Fiji (or another Polyensian island)
- Stopover in Auckland
- Return back to Hawaii
That would be a miraculous ticket, and I’ll give a nickel to anyone who actually books and flys it.
The most bookable tickets are most likely going to include stops that are simpler. If you want to open-jaw across the Pacific, epic props. But for most people it would include at most 3 stops (one destination and two stopovers):
- Guam, Yap, Palau
- Guam, Saipan, Cairns
- The Island Hopper in combination
- Guam, Cairns, Auckland (if AKL-HNL is available)
- Auckland, Fiji, Christchurch (if AKL-HNL is available)
- Auckland, Queenstown, Sydney (if AKL-HNL is available)
I figured it could also be worth mentioning the other Air New Zealand routes to the Pacific islands that aren’t based out of Auckland. Again, it’s dependent upon AKL-HNL freeing up, but I believe it’s definitely possible that partnerships and routes change.
All the Points hotels on the route
I wanted to briefly mention the points hotels at a few of the destinations discussed here. It’s only a few of all Polynesia and Australia/New Zealand. But, it’s actually a complete list of Micronesia as only Guam and Saipan have points hotels (that I’m aware of).
|Starwood (SPG)||Hyatt||Hilton||IHG||Club Carlson|
|Cairns||10,000||30,000 – 40,000||30,000|
|Fiji||10,000 – 25,000||50,000||15,000 – 30,000||44,000|
I fear I made this route a little too complicated. But it’s only because the sky is the limit. You have two stopovers to fit in of all of Micronesia. And even with only two stops, Guam and Palau or Yap, or only Guam and Cairns… it’s an incredible deal for 40,000 Lufthansa miles.
If I went overboard on this route… someone please let me know and draw me back in to earth.