Redeem American Airlines Miles: Part 7 — Redeeming for Hawaii

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I am updating and re-posting this series on redeeming American Airlines miles in light of the fact that right now it’s super easy to earn 146,000 American Airlines miles.

For a limited time, the Citi /AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard and the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard are both offering 50k bonus miles for spending $3,000 on each card within three months of opening it. The new Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard is offering 40k bonus American Airlines miles after just one purchase and paying the annual fee of $95. You can sign up for all three in the same nine day period (you can be approved for no more than one Citi card in an eight day period) and earn at least 146k American Airlines miles within three months after meeting the bonus requirements. 

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Hawaii.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Hawaii Awards

To Hawaii, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on:

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • any combination of the two

Award space on both airlines is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

As of September 1, 2015, American Airlines miles cannot book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland and Hawaii. AA miles can still book interisland flights on Hawaiian and flights between Hawaii and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Pricing

Between the mainland and Hawaii, American charges:

  • 20,000 miles in economy each way during Off Peak dates ONLY on American Airlines flights. Off Peak Dates:
    • to Hawaii: December 29 – March 12, August 11 – November 18, November 24 – December 10
    • from Hawaii: January 7 – March 19, August 18 – November 27, December 3 – December 25
  • 22,500 miles each way in economy the rest of the year
  • 40,000 miles each way in First Class
  • 65,000 miles each way in First Class if you fly a three-cabin First Class flight on the mainland as part of the award. There is no three-cabin First Class to Hawaii itself.

All the prices mentioned above are for partner awards or MileSAAver awards on American Airlines flights. MileSAAver awards are highly capacity controlled and not available on all or even most flights. When not available, AAnytime awards, which are much more expensive, are available. Here are the prices for flying American Airlines economy, for example, which include the elevated AAnytime prices:

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Who Should Never Redeem American Airlines Miles to Hawaii

If you live in one of 10 western cities with direct flights on American or Alaska to Hawaii, you are better off redeeming 12,500 British Airways Avios each way to Hawaii. Full article on the 12,500 Avios routes to Hawaii and how to book them.

The cities/routes with 12,500 Avios awards:

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1: Seasonal Flight

Award Space

Award space to Hawaii is highly seasonal on all airlines, and it lines up well with American’s Off Peak dates.

Award space is usually fairly abundant from mid-January through mid-March and during the Fall. It is non-existent over Christmas and New Year’s and sparse in the Summer and Spring, unless you can afford to wait until right before to book. Space opens up between the United States and many destinations in Hawaii within three weeks of departure. If you want to visit Hawaii over those sparse times and can’t book last minute, use ThankYou Points.

American and its partners serve Hawaii from about a dozen cities, most of them on the west coast, though American also flies from Dallas to Honolulu, Kahului, and Kona (beginning December 15, 2016).

The best award availability is via the west coast during off peak times and in the last month before departure.

I’m going to show award space as a series of calendars. All calendars show availability on direct flights for one passenger. Most people reading this post won’t live in any of the cities shown on the calendars. That’s OK. You can connect via these cities to Hawaii. The award space to these cities shouldn’t be much of a problem and will not add any miles to the award price as long as you add a leg priced as MileSAAver and it’s in the same or a lower cabin as the transoceanic leg.

Los Angeles to Honolulu

There is a smattering of economy space for the coming week and March through the beginning of May…

…but there is absolutely none the rest of May, June, July, August, nor September. End of October a few economy seats start to pop up, and November has nine days open with economy space. December has just a couple days with flights available.

Come mid-January the calendar for economy award space opens up.

Of course, if you live in LA, you want to book these direct American flights with Avios. If you live elsewhere, you’ll want to use AA miles and connect here.

First Class space is virtually non-existent.

Space is equally good on the return in economy over the next week, smattered but existent through May, and even shows up some days in June.

First Class space on the return is just as non-existent in First Class as it is in economy. In general, award space is terrible in American Airlines First Class to Hawaii.

Los Angeles to Lihue

Los Angeles to Kauai has the most days available over the next month, but economy space is still pretty meager. I saw maybe 15 days with economy seats open between now and January 2018. I saw zero First Class seats.

The return has even less no economy space, save a handful of days in March.

Just like the outbound, I saw not one First Class award seat available on this route.

Los Angeles to Kahului

Maui award space is excellent for the next four weeks to Maui in economy…

The rest of the year is much more open than the other routes discussed so far. Half or more of the days in April and May have economy award seats available. June and July expectedly have less with just a few days scattered here and there, but the calendar starts to open up again in August and by mid October you have half or more of the days available per month through January 2018.

I saw no First Class space open.

On the return in economy, March is wide open. Through July there are a handful of days each month available, but nothing like March. August and September don’t have much open but the calendar opens up again in October and stays that way through January 2018.

There was no First Class space I saw on the return.
Los Angeles to Kona

Economy award space is spotty from Los Angeles to the Big Island for the next four weeks, but there are a handful of seats. The rest of the year through January 2018 has pretty much nothing open. Expectedly there is no First Class space available.

The return has more economy space than the outbound that lasts through mid June, but tapers off until the holidays when you see the calendar open up a little bit.

Again, there is no First Class award space to be found.

Dallas to Kahului

Economy award space is from Dallas to Maui is spotty until August, when the calendar opens to have space almost every day. After August though, I hardly saw a single other day available.
There is a little space available on the return from Maui except for the second half of December.

There is no First Class space in either direction.
Phoenix to Hawaii

American Airlines took over US Airways’ Phoenix-to-Hawaii routes. Phoenix to Maui has the most economy space with lots of options over the next month, dry spells and then pockets like this period mid July to mid August with many days open.There is less available on the return.

Bottom Line

Right now American Airlines miles have good access to award space between the United States and Hawaii in the beginning of 2017 as well as some seats in the fall of this year, which is low season (mid-January to mid-March and fall) and coincides with the Off Peak dates to Hawaii when awards are just 20,000 miles one way (flying American Airlines only).

First Class space doesn’t exist, but there is plenty of economy space to find, especially on specific routes. The best space is available within a month or even a week of departure in most cases.

If you need to plan farther out, book your Hawaii trip with different miles (United often has better award space) or ThankYou Points, which have access to every flight to Hawaii with no blackouts.

For me, it’s just as well that American Airlines miles are just OK to Hawaii when you understand the limitations. I never want to use them to Hawaii anyway because there are cheaper awards to Hawaii (like with Singapore miles) and because I save my American Airlines miles for these sweet spots on the new devalued American Airlines award chart instead.

For a limited time, the Citi /AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard is offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard is offering the same bonus. The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard is offering 40k bonus American Airlines miles after just one purchase and paying the annual fee of $95.

By meeting the $6,000 total spending requirement + putting one purchase on the Barclaycard and paying its $95 annual fee, you’ll earn at least 146,000 American Airlines miles, which is more than enough for three people roundtrip to Hawaii in economy. If you decide to open all three cards, open the Barclaycard first, then either Citi card, and then wait eight days to apply for the second Citi card. For example, on day 1 you apply for the Barclaycard and then immediately following, the personal Citi card. On day 9 you apply for the CitiBusiness card.

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. Just curious as to what you can tell me about lounges in Honolulu. I booked a first class ticket on HA from HNL-LAS-ORD-SP. All legs are in first class. Am I able to use the lounge in Honolulu before my flight? I used AA miles for the ticket, and the first leg is on HA. The second and third legs are on AA. I don’t have status with either, and don’t have any lounge memberships. Thanks for any input!

    • HA First = HA lounge. Very very basic. Not worth the time frankly. No other lounges on this trip for you.

  2. Can anyone tell me if i do it right or not? i try to book a flight from Seattle to Kahului, HI (OGG) under Alaska airplane. But i try to search for the flight on AA website nothing show up, i try to use Alaska website to search then it show a whole bunch direct flight??? so can i use the information for Alaska airplane on Alaska website to book the flight using AVOIS point? i just try to understand clearly before i call BA to book that sweet 12500 point 🙂 thanks for any input.

    • Partners of Alaska like American Airlines miles and Avios only have access to SAVER award space on Alaska flights. All of that shows up on aa.com. When you searched on alaskaair.com, you saw other award space that costs a LOT of Alaska miles and is NOT bookable with AA miles or Avios. Just search on aa.com.

    • Lee,
      Try searching ‘Nonstop only’ on AA.com. I tried searching myself and many weekend departures/returns are blocked out. You can still get SEA to OGG direct on a weekday though.

  3. Do those LAX to Hawaii flights still take you all over the place? Like la to Phoenix to Hawaii. Or la to Seattle to Hawaii and never really direct

  4. As usual, DFW is becoming one of the hardest places to use milesaver awards direct anywhere. It never has been good to Hawaii and I have been watching that route for 4 years now…but this is getting ridiculous.

  5. I guess I have just been lucky or the situation is far different for travel to/from ATL. I’ve used AA miles for 2 trips to Hawaii. Both trips, I had absolutely no problem getting what I wanted in First Class. The last time, I flew on Hawaiian from LAX. My trip this year is 1st from ATL to DFW. Then 1st in the sleeper seats from DFW to HNL. I also have the reverse routing coming home in sleeper seats. I chose to pay 67,500 for each 1 way because the few saver 1st class at 40,000 (yes, they were there) offered plain domestic 1st class seats. This is a very long flight from the east coast and worth the extra miles to me.
    On Delta, the lowest price you pay for these good seats is 80,000 1 way and it goes up to 100,000 and 150,000 depending on when you book it.
    The main thing I’ve found is to plan 331 days in advance. The seats aren’t always released that far out, but you need to start searching then. AA does release some seats a couple of weeks before a flight, but normally the routing and flight times don’t appeal to me.

    Also, anyone thinking that you get lounge privileges due to 1st class, is wrong. It is considered a domestic flight. If you fly on Hawaiian you do get a lounge, but as previously stated, it is hardly worth it. If you have Priority Pass, they show a lounge in HNL.

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