What’s the Best Way To Find a Deal on First-Class Airfare to Hawaii?

Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions, by money expert Clark Howard.

How Can I Get a Great Price on a First-Class Flight to Hawaii?

Daniel from Maryland asks: "I need advice on how to spend money wisely for a bucket list trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, next September. I'll be retiring soon, and my family and I would like to do something that we've never done and will likely never do again: fly first class.

“Given your extensive traveling experience, what advice can you provide to help us obtain the best possible first-class flight and fare? Generally, I follow your advice on spending less and saving more. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

“After working for four decades, I really want to fly first class once in my lifetime.”

Clark’s Take on How To Get a Deal on a First-Class Flight to Hawaii

Clark says: The best deal for your wallet is to purchase two separate airline tickets: one from the East Coast to the West Coast then another from the West Coast to Hawaii.

“The way the fares work from particularly the West Coast to Hawaii is the coach fares are very, very competitive,” Clark says. “The front of the plane fares not as much. But they will be much cheaper from the West Coast flying first class to Honolulu than it will be from Maryland.”

You can routinely find good deals on first-class fares on cross-country flights, he says.

“You can go to BWI [Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport] and find a good first-class deal to the West Coast, and then you look for a separate first-class deal from the West Coast to Honolulu,” Clark adds.

Breaking up each one-way journey into two legs also gives you a chance to avoid an overnight flight on the trip back to the West Coast, he says.

“Now, if you buy a ticket roundtrip from Maryland to Hawaii and back, what happens is you’re going to have a brutal overnight flight coming back,” Clark says. “But if you do it my way, where you buy one first-class ticket from probably BWI, to the West Coast and the second one, from the West Coast to Honolulu, here’s the advantage: You’re able to take a daytime flight from Honolulu back to L.A., San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Vegas — wherever the cheapest deal is.”

Here’s How To Find a Deal on a First-Class Fare

To find a deal on a first-class fare, follow these steps:

  • Go online to Google Flights.
  • Type in your departure and arrival cities.
  • Type in the dates of your trip.
  • Toggle on the Track Prices button (see screenshot below).

When the price drops, an email will be sent to your Gmail account. These fare alerts are a great way to save money before you book.

Once you set up a fare alert from the East Coast to the West Coast, you’re halfway through the process of saving for airfare.

“Set up other alerts from the West Coast airports to Honolulu,” Clark says, “And it will alert you every time there’s a deal. And you’ll be able to play the match game and get the best deal possible.”

Clark says first-class fares from Baltimore to Los Angeles, when you find them on sale, are typically around $650 right now. Expect to pay around $950, on sale, from the West Coast to Honolulu.

To hear Clark’s full take on this question, listen to the segment:

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