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Alaska Airlines buys Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 Billion opening up a temporary backdoor to transfer Alaska’s loyalty program

a group of airplanes in the sky

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This was surprising and welcomed news! Alaska Airlines has announced that they will purchase Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 Billion in a mix of cash and debt. The anticipated deal expected to take 12 to 18 months and here are a few key takes from the full press release here

  • Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian will continue to preserve their own brands
    • They will be under one umbrella, but you’ll still see their planes fly independently
  • One loyalty program
    • Ostensibly those with Hawaiian loyalty accounts will ultimately be folded into Alaska Mileage Plan accounts
    • This is very good to Hawaiian loyalists – I value the Alaskan program much more than the Hawaiian one.
  • Alaska will dominate the Hawaii market
  • Flying Hawaiian will soon have One World benefits

a row of seats in an airplane

A temporary window to transfer into Alaska

While it isn’t 100% official that the miles from Hawaiian will transfer 1:1 into Alaska, I suspect that as long as the deal closes, they will. For years, I’ve held the belief that Alaska has some of the most valuable points in the business – they just changed their program and made pricing more expensive, but I still highly value Alaskan Miles. But…you can’t transfer in from any bank program.

Enter…the Hawaiian Airlines Backdoor.

Both Amex and Bilt are transfer partners of Hawaiian ( Bilt even had a 100% bonus to Hawaiian earlier this year ).

  • Ostensibly, you could move points into Hawaiian, with the anticipation of those, at some point in the future, being converted into Alaska miles.

A temporary window to earn more Alaska via Hawaiian credit card

As noted on my Best Offers Spreadsheet – there are currently two awesome offers on Hawaiian Airlines credit cards.

Hawaiian Airlines Personal 65k after 1 purchase in 90 days ( any 6 digit code works )
Hawaiian Airlines Business $99 “70k” 60k after $2k spend in 3mos + 10k after AU makes purchase

There was language in the press release that they will merge under one single credit card. So… I’d guess that these Hawaiian cards will go away and you’ll be left with only Alaska cards to sign up for in the not so distant future. If you nabbed both cards above you’d get 135k Hawaiian/Alaska miles with just $2k spend. Not too shabby!

This is something I did when AA and US Air merged. You could pick up US Airways credit cards ahead of the merger, and since those cards would be discontinued and points combined, you could backdoor yourself into boosting your balances.

Overall

Consolidation is usually bad for competition, but Hawaiian has been in trouble for quite some time with a falling stock price, and this will hopefully keep the brand alive. While I’ve never flown Hawaiian, I know many people love it, and they offer some great lie flat options. Additionally, this buyout presents Alaska with some true international capabilities given Hawaiian’s 787-9 wide body purchases. I’m here for this.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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4 Comments

  • JR December 6, 2023

    This is bad advice. The transaction hasn’t closed and needs to clear regulatory approval which won’t be complete for at least the next 12 months.

    • Miles December 7, 2023

      Not advising anyone to do it, just saying should the deal close, it’s highly likely they will be 1:1 and it’s an option if you’d like more “potential” Alaskan Miles.

  • derek December 5, 2023

    There is some risk because the Biden administration generally opposes airline mergers, even JetBlue + Spirit

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