Secret [Former] Tip for Cheap Airfare to Hawaii

July 8, 2008 Update: Points of Light has suspended operation of their ebay store for travel. For more information see this Q&A.
A Go Visit Hawaii reader, Lindsay, recently wrote me to tell me about how she had purchased two roundtrip tickets for $780 on American Airlines. That’s a steal at $390 per person from the Midwest!

Now, you’ll probably never guess where Lindsay purchased these tickets. It wasn’t through the American Airlines, or a travel agency, or online discount agency like Travelocity. Are you ready for this? She purchased the tickets on ebay. That’s right, ebay! So, how did she do it? She was kind enough to give me to the scoop to share with you.

image So, here’s the deal. There’s a non-profit organization called Points of Light that auctions tickets and vacation packages on ebay as a means for raising funds. Here’s a link to their ebay shop. They sell other items besides airline tickets and travel packages, so you may have to sift though random stuff to find the Hawaii travel related items for auction. Some travel items are available for “buy it now” and others are available for bid. At the moment, here just a sampling of the Hawaii airline tickets and packages that are up for auction:

Note that there are restrictions for each item for auction so make sure you know what they are before purchase or bid. Also, make sure you understand what additional taxes and fees may be required. Most tickets and packages have restrictions like a 7 or 14 day advance reservation and a Saturday night stay. Most tickets must be used within 12 months. From sifting through a few of them, it appears that it’s best if you have flexibility in your travel dates.

Though this ebay seller has an overall positive feedback rating (approximately 96%), they do have a some neutral and negative ratings. Make sure you shop with ebay wisely.

For frequent fliers, you’ll still earn travel miles with these tickets. That’s a great bonus.

A big mahalo to Lindsay for sharing this tip! What do you think of this way of purchasing discount tickets? Do you think it’s worth a try or are you scared? Have you purchased tickets or vacation packages from this ebay store? How did it work for you?

UPDATE: Did we flood their system? The day after I posted this tidbit, all the travel items were removed from the ebay store and this notice was posted:

Due to unexpectedly high volumes of summer travel, we have exceeded our capacity to handle new travel packages efficiently. We have temporarily suspended the sale of future travel until we can catch up with your demand.

  1. Good tip, another great way is to buy the Southwest vouchers on eBay. A voucher used to go for around $300-$350 and you need two to reach Hawaii, not bad for an east coaster.

  2. I just wanted to add that even if you don’t win the bid – for example if you bid $800 and didn’t win (and didn’t meet the reserver) normally they will come back and offer you a 2nd chance offer for $800. So try starting low and see where they “bite”.

  3. @ Jim – I don’t believe you can get to Hawaii on Southwest at the moment. Did Southwest partner (code share) with another airline that flies to Hawaii? Southwest used to offer a code share to Hawaii with ATA, but ATA shut down in April. This article says they planned to develop another codeshare “soon” but that was back in April.
    If they’ve created a new partnership I’m not aware of it.

    @ Lindsay – thanks for the extra tip! As I was looking around on their items for auction, I noticed they had a note that said to make sure that any second chance bid offers are legitimate offers from them. I believe all the second chance offers come through ebay’s messaging system only.

  4. @ jim – darn, I was keeping my fingers crossed that Southwest had a new partner. 🙂

    By the way, somebody got a steal from the auction yesterday! The package I listed in the post for 2 tickets to Kauai and 6 nights accommodation in a 4-star hotel sold for $1475. What a bargain!

  5. Uh oh! Did we bust their system? I went to this ebay store to check to see what was for sale and I couldn’t find ANY travel items. I did find this notice posted:
    “Due to unexpectedly high volumes of summer travel, we have exceeded our capacity to handle new travel packages efficiently. We have temporarily suspended the sale of future travel until we can catch up with your demand.”

  6. Wow that is really suprising – I know when I purchased tickets they were so busy just to try to answer questions and get the tickets out to us. They only have two people working on the eBay sales and it would take normally 2 weeks for them to respond.

    So this is vary interesting. I’ll have to keep watching for new postings.

  7. Another reader e-mailed me with this link. The store is closed indefinitely due to problems with the contractor. It’s a shame!

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Q. What happened? Why did the eStore close?

    A. Points of Light Institute management became aware that there were significant irregularities with the eStore, which was operated by an independent contractor who had responsibility for securing and selling donated goods on-line and who also sold travel packages on consignment.

    When we discovered these irregularities, which appear to be isolated to travel transactions only, we immediately severed our relationship with this contractor and contacted law enforcement authorities.

    To thoroughly investigate the matter, we were forced to suspend operations and not fulfill ticket bookings with dates of origin after Tuesday, July 15, 2008. But we want to expedite your request to a customer service representative, and are committed to helping you and doing everything possible to lessen the impact of this hardship.

  8. That really stinks…..but obviously they were doing something illegal. I’m glad that we were able to go to Hawaii for so cheap…..maybe our return won’t be as soon as we had planned.

    Thanks for the update.

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