The Guide to Hawaiian Airlines Pualani Elite Status

Hawaiian Airlines has two levels of elite status, plus a lounge membership with some similar elite benefits.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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If there’s anything better than flying to Hawaii, it’s flying to Hawaii with perks in tow. While front-of-the-cabin seating can feel out of reach for most travelers, those who are able to earn elite status with the HawaiianMiles program from Hawaiian Airlines can enjoy a luxurious journey to one of the most desirable vacation spots on earth.

Here we cover everything you need to know about the perks and benefits of earning Hawaiian Airlines Pualani elite status.

What is Pualani elite status on Hawaiian Airlines?

Hawaiian Airlines has two different elite status levels — Pualani Gold and Pualani Platinum. At a glance, here's a breakdown of the two.

Pualani Gold

Pualani Platinum

How to earn

Fly 30 segments or 20,000 miles in one calendar year.

Fly 60 segments or 40,000 miles in one calendar year.

Checked bags

Two free checked bags per member.

Three free checked bags per member.

Priority boarding

Zone 2.

Zone 1.

Bonus frequent flyer miles on revenue tickets

50%.

100%.

Complimentary upgrades

Complimentary upgrades to Extra Comfort Seats on all flights, 50% discount on upgrades to first/business class on flights to neighboring islands.

Complimentary upgrades to first/business class on flights to neighboring islands, plus at least two upgrade certificates.

Lounge access

Premier Club access for the member and two guests.

Premier Club access for the member and two guests, Plumeria Lounge access with international flights and access to select international partner lounges.

Changes to Hawaiian Airlines Pualani elite status for 2022

As of Jan. 19, 2022, any Pualani Platinum member and up to one guest will receive complimentary access to The Plumeria Lounge and international partner lounges when traveling internationally on any Main Cabin or higher ticket with Hawaiian Airlines.

The mileage requirements to earn upgrade certificates in 2022 is also higher than it was in 2021. You have to fly 20,000 more miles in 2022 to receive the same number of upgrade certificates as you would have in 2021.

If you had Pualani Platinum status in 2021 and flew enough miles or segments, you received:

  • At least 20,000 miles or 30 segments: Two certificates.

  • At least 55,000 miles: Six certificates.

  • At least 65,000 miles: After 55,000 miles, one additional certificate for every 10,000 miles flown; so, 65,000 miles gets you seven certificates, and so on.

If you have Pualani Platinum status in 2022 and fly enough miles or segments, you'll receive:

  • At least 40,000 miles or 60 segments: Two certificates.

  • At least 75,000 miles: Six certificates.

  • At least 85,000 miles: After 75,000 miles, one additional certificate for every 10,000 miles flown; so, 85,000 miles gets you seven certificates, and so on.

A closer look at Pualani levels and benefits

Pualani Gold benefits

How to earn: Fly 30 segments or 20,000 miles in one calendar year.

  • Free checked bags: First two bags fly free.

  • Priority boarding on flights: Zone 2.

  • Bonus frequent flyer miles when flying on a revenue ticket: 50%.

  • Priority check-in and baggage handling.

  • Exclusive Reservations customer service line.

  • Discounted award flights when booking online.

  • Complimentary upgrades to Extra Comfort Seats on all flights and a 50% discount on upgrades to first or business class on flights to neighboring islands.

  • Premier Club access at Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului and Lihue for the member and two guests.

  • Earn 500 HawaiianMiles on any neighbor island flight.

Pualani Platinum benefits

How to earn: Fly 60 segments or 40,000 miles in one calendar year.

Pualani Platinum members earn all of the Gold benefits above, in addition to:

  • Free checked bags: First three bags fly free.

  • Priority boarding on flights: Zone 1.

  • Bonus frequent flyer miles when flying on a revenue ticket: 100%.

  • Access to The Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu airport for the member and one guest when flying internationally.

  • Access to select international partner lounges for the member and one guest.

  • Complimentary upgrades to Extra Comfort Seats or first/business class on flights to neighboring islands.

  • Complimentary upgrades to Extra Comfort Seats on North America and international flights.

  • Two complimentary upgrade certificates for business/first class on longer flights. Pualani Platinum members who earn 75,000 miles in one calendar year will receive six upgrade certificates, plus one certificate for every additional 10,000 miles after 75,000 miles.

Premier Club benefits

How to earn: Purchase it for $299.

While a Premier Club membership isn’t technically a level of elite status, it does offer some of the same benefits:

  • Free checked bags: First two bags fly free.

  • Priority boarding on flights: Zone 2.

  • Access to Premier Clubs in Honolulu, Hilo, Kahului, Kona and Lihue for the member and two guests.

  • Two one-time passes to The Plumeria Lounge at the Honolulu airport.

  • Discount on award flights booked online.

  • 500 HawaiianMiles for each neighbor island flight.

  • Waived fee on a secondary driver when you book a rental car with Avis or Budget.

How to get elite status with Hawaiian Airlines

The elite status tiers — Platinum and Gold — are earned through frequent flying. Premier Club membership isn't earned; it’s bought. That's convenient if you want Hawaiian Airlines elite status benefits, but don't actually fly the airline all that much.

Unlike many airlines, with Hawaiian you cannot qualify for elite status through a co-branded credit card. So you’ll need to do some serious flying if you want to earn Pualani elite status.

Here's how to earn each:

Pualani Gold

Pualani Platinum

30 segments or 20,000 miles.

60 segments or 40,000 miles.

Buying Premier Club membership

Premier Club membership is a bit different from the two status tiers, as it comes at a literal cost; it can be purchased annually for $299. Alternatively, you can redeem 40,000 HawaiianMiles for Pualani Premier membership.

Given NerdWallet's valuation of a HawaiianMile at 1 cent, 40,000 miles are worth $400. If you can save your miles to book a future airfare, you're probably better off. But if you want Premier Club and you don't want to actually pay for it, then paying for it with miles may be worth it.

Premier Club members receive some but not all of the perks of Pualani Elite passengers, though it also offers its own unique benefits. You'll get two free checked bags, express check-in, priority preboarding and security, Premier Club access and two one-time passes to The Plumeria Lounge.

Existing members can renew their memberships for $249 or 35,000 miles (which NerdWallet values at about $350).

Is Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club membership worth it?

Most of the Premier Club benefits overlap with the same benefits received through the earned Hawaiian Airlines status, so it generally doesn’t make sense to pay for Premier Club membership if you already have Pualani Gold or Platinum status.

If you’re in it for the free checked bag, you’ll likely save by instead holding the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, which has a $99 annual fee and gets you two free checked bags on mainland-to-Hawaii and interisland flights booked directly with Hawaiian. That's cheaper than the Premier Club membership and allows you to check one bag free when you use your card to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.

The people who would benefit most are travelers who would use the lounge access and generally spend more than $299 on food and drinks at the airport every year for themselves and two companions. Even then, it might be worth considering a travel credit card with Priority Pass membership instead since it’ll give you access to many more lounges, and The Plumeria Lounge is included in Priority Pass.

The best HawaiianMiles Pualani elite status benefits

Shorter lines at the airport

The perks of being a Pualani elite member begin as soon as you arrive at the airport, with Platinum, Gold and Premier Club members able to use the first class check-in lines with up to two guests, even if you only purchased airfare in the cheap seats.

Once checked in, Pualani elite members will not only receive Priority TSA Security access (where available), but they’ll also enjoy priority boarding. Gold and Premier Club members will have Zone 2 boarding privileges, while Platinum members will be allowed to board with Zone 1.

Free checked bags

Gold and Premier Club members can check two bags for free, while Platinum members can check three bags. This benefit applies only to Hawaiian Airlines-operated flights. Compare that to the usual Hawaiian Airlines checked bag fees to see how much you save.

Route

First checked bag

Second checked bag

Within Hawaii

$25.

$35.

Between Hawaii and North America

$30.

$40.

International

Free.

Free.

Oh, Hawaiian Airlines also throws in priority baggage handling, which means your suitcases will be the first to hit the luggage carousel — and you’ll be the first to hit the beach.

Lounge access

The Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club.

The Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club. (Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines)

All elite members (plus two guests) get access to the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Clubs, which are located at the Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului and Lihue airports. Premier Clubs offer Pau Hana snacks, soda, juice, coffee and tea free of charge. There are ample charging outlets and free Wi-Fi. And should you need support from staff to change your flight, there’s a dedicated customer service agent for lounge guests.

Plumeria Lounge

The Hawaiian Airlines Plumeria Lounge. (Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines)

If you have Pualani Platinum, you and a guest will get access to the even-swankier Plumeria Lounge if flying on an international flight out of Honolulu. The Plumeria Lounge tops the Premier Clubs by offering complimentary hot food, beer and wine.

You’ll also have access to select international partner lounges in cities including Sydney, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; and Auckland, New Zealand to make your flight to Hawaii a little bit nicer. See the full list of the international lounges (and opening hours) here.

Booking benefits

Pualani elite members don’t have to wait until they arrive at the airport for their perks to kick in. All members will have access to reservation benefits, including greater seat selection when booking online, discounts when booking award flights with Hawaiian Airlines miles and access to an exclusive reservation line.

Additionally, Pualani Gold members receive a 50% miles bonus on revenue tickets, while Pualani Platinum members will earn a 100% bonus.

All Pualani elite members will receive 500 bonus miles on intra-island flights.

Seat upgrades

Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort Seats

With status, you’re eligible for upgrades, including these Extra Comfort Seats. (Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines)

Seat upgrades are one of the most valuable parts of any airline loyalty program, and Pualani elite members will not be disappointed in their upgrade options.

Both Gold and Platinum members (and up to six travel buddies on the same reservation) are eligible for complimentary upgrades to preferred seats, which are basically better (although not first class seats), when available.

On flights within Hawaiian, Platinum members will receive free upgrades to available first class seats, while Gold members will be able to upgrade to the front of the cabin at a 50% discount.

For flights to North America or international destinations, all members are eligible for upgrades to Extra Comfort Seats based on availability. Platinum members can use one upgrade certificate to get a business/first class upgrade on flights less than 3,500 miles or two upgrade certificates on flights more than 3,500 miles.

Additional perks

Pualani Gold and Platinum elite members are eligible for complimentary fare holds. This allows them to hold a ticket at a specific fare for a set period of time before they either purchase the ticket or cancel at no cost.

Platinum members receive the extra benefit of having a guaranteed economy class seat when flying to neighboring islands on a revenue ticket, up to 72 hours before the flight’s departure.

Hawaiian elite status, recapped

Whether you’re a frequent visitor to the Hawaiian islands or are taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Pualani elite status can elevate your Hawaiian adventure. First class check-in, airport lounges and complimentary upgrades will make you feel like your vacation has started even before your plane has left the runway.


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