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Hawaiian Airlines to become an Avios partner as Alaska Airlines buys it for $1.9bn

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It was announced on Sunday, following a media leak, that Alaska Airlines has agreed to buy Hawaiian Airlines in a $1.9bn deal.

Alaska Airlines is a member of the oneworld airline alliance, alongside British Airways. You can already earn and spend Avios on Alaska Airlines flights, and once the deal completes you will also be able to earn and spend Avios on Hawaiian Airlines.

Whether the deal can get through the competition authorities in the United States is a different question.

Alaska Airlines tailfins

The JetBlue / Spirit merger is facing substantial problems, but Alaska and Hawaiian only overlap on 3% of their routes.

Put simply, Alaska tends to fly from West Coast cities to Hawaii whilst Hawaiian uses larger aircraft to serve cities as distant as Boston. The key issue, of course, will be the dominance of the combined airlines on flights to and from Hawaii.

What do we know about the Alaska / Hawaiian merger?

The two airlines have launched a dedicated website to promote the merits of the deal.

Here are the key things to know:

  • Alaska Airlines is acquiring Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9bn, including existing debt, in an ‘all cash’ deal
  • it is an agreed deal, not a hostile bid
  • both brands will be retained
  • the two airlines will have a joint loyalty programme
  • despite retaining the Hawaiian brand, the airline will be a oneworld alliance member as a subsidiary of Alaska and you will be able to earn and redeem Avios on Hawaiian flights
  • the two airlines will have a single back-end operating platform
  • the deal will generate $235m in annual synergies
  • Alaska is currently the 5th largest US airline and this will not change (Alaska will drop to 6th if the JetBlue / Spirit merger completes)
  • the combined airlines will have a fleet of 365 aircraft and will serve 55 million passengers annually
  • the combined airlines will serve 138 destinations

The acquisition is expected to take 12-18 months to complete due to the regulatory approvals required, so don’t start planning a trip just yet.

Of course, you can already redeem Avios to Hawaii on the existing Alaska Airlines and American Airlines services.

The bad news is that the existing partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Hawaiian Airlines is likely to come to an end. You can learn more about earning and redeeming Virgin Points for Hawaiian Airlines flights on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Will the deal get approved? I’m not going to pretend to know. There is little existing route overlap – although some routes are likely to cause issues – but we don’t know how Hawaii itself will feel about one carrier controlling such a large percentage of flights.

You can find out more on this special merger website here.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (38)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Blindman67 says:

    You can use Virgin Points on Hawaiin to the Cook Islands.

  • Richie says:

    Don’t VS frequent flyers just switch to Delta flights for Hawaii?

  • zapato1060 says:

    Really want to do a trip to Hawaii as I am trying to tick off my bucket list locations (close) but Hawaii, solely, must be the most expensive place for accomodation anywhere!! Its eye watering. Does anyone have any recommendations? Apart from sleeping on streets I’ve not got a problem.

    • Johnny Tabasco says:

      What island are you looking at? Avoid resort hotels if you can for starters. And avoid holiday periods.

    • Ziggy says:

      My biggest recommendation would be to avoid Honolulu. Personally, I avoid the island of Oahu completely, but appreciate that some areas are nice (even beautiful), but visiting Honolulu if you’re looking for a Hawaiian experience would be like visiting Male when looking for a Maldivian experience.

      Maui has always been my go to island, but recent events make that a less than perfect option. South side of Kauai (Poipu) is nice and Kona on Hawaii itself probably won’t disappoint.

      • Johnny Tabasco says:

        Maui is back on its feet and needs your support more than ever. We are head back to Kahana in Jan!

        And agreed with all the sentiments here – condos all the way.

    • B Murphy-Ryan says:

      We actually really liked Oahu when visiting a few years back – it’s an interesting mix of US city and then drive around the island and very different – especially the North Shore. Honolulu resorts are huge, but staying on Waikiki Beach meant you could wander in and do shopping, go for dinner and walk back along the beach – it was amazing an experience. We did then go to Maui and had a lovely stay just down from Lahaina – devastating to see the damage there, and would based on the overall trip 100% go back – maybe trying Big Island or Kauai. It was expensive everywhere though

    • Jill Kinkell says:

      We stayed at Hilton Embassy suites in Honolulu in February earlier this year on 5 for 4 points nights.Breakfast and happy hour included. On one hand it did the business ….you don’t live in your room/ hotel all day. On the other hand, we were allocated a really dismal drab room , so far removed from the pics demonstrating a reward room.Breakfast was a scrum unless you went really early and happy hour was a free drink of not very great wine or beer. We complained . Management agreed they had fallen short and gave us back half the points , about 180000 Hilton points. It was clean and bed was comfy. I’m glad we went , filled the time with the usual touristy stuff. Any return trip….I’d head to a different island

    • Louise K says:

      I recommend you stay in a condo rather than hotel resort. We love Turtle Bay on Oahu, Kaanapali resort area near Lahaina or Wailea area. You can find plenty of resorts near to the beach / eating etc but they give the flexibility of self catering as dining out in Hawaii is also $$$$

    • newbz says:

      It’s tough, as even AirBnBs add a lot of junk fees – destination fees, resort fees, administration fees, cleaning fees. I found flights to be cheap, food to be cheap and phenomenally good due to the Asian, Portuguese and other influence + the quality of produce… but accommodation was wildly overpriced and it painful to think that a cheap beaten up motel room is more expensive than a 5 star hotel in Bali.

      After visiting Kauai, Maui, Big Island and Oahu, I can’t really pick the island I liked the most. Maui probably most disappointing of all (more of resort/golf course vibe). Kauai and the Big Island were fun, very different, and it’s good to do both. Oahu was an unexpected surprise and really enjoyed it – the North Shore is great, and even Honolulu has some appeal.

      • Johnny Tabasco says:

        Sounds like you went to the wrong part of Maui! South west area, it seems.

  • Robert Brooks says:

    I flew on Alaska 6 times during a week avgeeking in Seattle. Every time I was greeted by name and my oneworld status was acknowledged, never had that with AA, BA, AY or IB. The friendliest and helpful in flight crew I’ve known. In my books, if this merger can be approved, I’m all for it 😎 Hawaii is very close to the top of the bucket list.

    • Stu_N says:

      We used Alaska in and around Las Vegas and California in the autumn – both mainline and regional op. by SkyWest. Was really impressed by the ground staff and cabin crews. First was proper armchair seats, 2×2 on 737s and 2×1 on E-jets and everything just worked – flights arrived on time and bags appeared quickly. First was often only $20 extra which seemed worth it for the tier points alone.

      • Robert Brooks says:

        I took advantage of a $20 upgrade offer from Eugene – Seattle, and it credited as Business (Q) with economy (5) tier points. Regardless, it was nice to sit in a solo seat for an hour 😉

  • James says:

    Does anyone know how to get Virgin redemptions on Hawaian internal flights? I have a trip there next year and need to book seats, but the flying club team seemed clueless about how to it and saw no availability on any HA route for next Oct?

    • Blindman67 says:

      IIRC I used American Airlines to look for reward availability, you do not need to have an AA account.
      You then have to ring Flying Club and they book it for you.
      Internal flights can be quite cheap so may not be worth the Virgin miles.

      Had no issues with RAR-HNL this September.

  • newbz says:

    Rob – you can currently credit Hawaiian flights to JetBlue, Delta, American, United and a host of other programs, so don’t think the Virgin partnership is that special and will necessarily end in the near term.

    Also, not sure the % of US-Hawaii market the combined airline will hold will necessarily be a problem. Just looking at HNL stats, Alaska accounts for only 6%. Delta, AA, Southwest have massive presence in that market.

  • Paul Irving Irving says:

    The narrow bodies are mainly for the huge amount of inter island flights it has, have a look on goggle flights to see the vast number.

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