On top of the tweak earlier in the week that makes peak demand extra availability awards on American the most expensive in the known universe, there’s another change coming up.
American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines are partners — but starting September 1 you will only be able to redeem American miles for travel on Hawaiian for intra-island flights and flights beyond Hawaii to their Asia Pacific destinations. You will no longer be able to redeem for Hawaiian flights between Hawaii and the US mainland.
American is Eliminating Redemptions on Hawaiian Airlines for Flights Between US Mainland and Hawaii
There’s more than two months’ notice to this change, and there are plenty of other options to Hawaiian on both American and Alaska Airlines. Hawaii awards aren’t getting more expensive, just a little harder. And there are many ways still to get those Hawaiian flights to and from Hawaiian. So this isn’t devastating. But it is disappointing.
Where You Can Still Use AAdvantage Miles to Fly Hawaiian Airlines
The most common thing for members to do will be to use Hawaiian Airlines for intra-Hawaii flights. Here’s that route network:
But you can also use American miles to fly beyond Hawaii. In other words, if you’re based in mainland US you’d fly American or Alaska to Hawaii and then Hawaiian onewards in Asia Pacific.
- Japan: Sendai, Tokyo Haneda, Osaka, Sapporo
- South Korea: Seoul
- China: Beijing
- Australia: Brisbane, Sydney
- New Zealand: Auckland
- American Samoa: Pago Pago
- French Polynesia: Papeete
Alternatives for Using AAdvantage Miles for Hawaii
You can fly American (including US Airways) to Hawaii and also Alaska Airlines. The American-US Airways merger does mean more flights to Hawaii than before, although it hardly makes up for the loss of Hawaiian.
American’s Hawaii routes:
- Los Angeles: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu, Lihue
- Dallas: Kahului (Maui), Honolulu
- Phoenix: Kahului (Maui), Honolulu, Lihue, Kona
Alaska’s Hawaii routes:
- San Diego: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu, Lihue
- Seattle: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu, Lihue
- Oakland: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu, Lihue
- San Jose: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu
- Portland: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu, Lihue
- Anchorage: Kona, Kahului (Maui), Honolulu
- Sacramento: Kahului (Maui)
- Bellingham: Kahului (Maui), Honolulu
Why Would This Change Occur?
When Delta and Hawaiian were partners similar restrictions were in place. US Airways also had this requirement. The idea was that each airline partnered with Hawaiian for its route network beyond Hawaii, but that Hawaii awards are popular and offering redemptions on Hawaii is thus expensive. Similarly, Hawaiian can bring its passengers to the mainland but in order for that to be an attractive proposition needs to be able to offer connections beyond its own gateway cities.
Since most of Hawaiian’s partnerships do not include this restriction, and the old US Airways partnership did, I’d guess that points in the direction of AAdvantage looking to eliminate a cost. Hawaiian is one of the handful of airlines you could redeem on American’s website so I’d guess it was an exceptionally common choice.
If incremental changes like this help forestall more major devaluations, I’m comfortable with that. On the other hand if this is indicative of ‘death by a thousand cuts’ that will be a huge disappointment. We’ll see what 2016 and beyond brings.
Alternatives for Redeeming Mainland – Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines has several other mileage partners whose points you can use instead of American’s after August. They’re a partner of ANA, for instance, which is an American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner.
However, these are my favorite options:
Virgin America’s miles can be redeemed for travel on Hawaiian between the mainland US and Hawaii. For instance,
- From New York JFK to Honolulu it’s 20,000 points each way for economy and 45,000 for first
- From San Francisco to Maui it’s 12,000 points each way for economy and 30,000 for first
My mental model is that Virgin America points are a deflated currency, roughly double the required points to compare to other carriers in order to more closely compare apple to apples.
Personally I like transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean — 30,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles roundtrip in first for mainland US – Hawaii. This doesn’t get you intra-island connecting flights included, however — if you wanted to fly New York JFK – Honolulu – Maui and back that’s 5000 more miles each way in economy for the Honolulu – Maui segments.