American Will Now Charge You for 2 Awards If You Fly Hawaiian Airlines Beyond Hawaii

September 1 we lost the ability to redeem American miles for travel between the mainland US and Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines.

Of course, we can still use American miles to fly on American between the mainland and Hawaii. And we can also fly on Alaska Airlines as well. (I probably wouldn’t be doing this anyway, here are the 5 best values to Hawaii and American miles aren’t one of them.)

American still does partner with Hawaiian Airlines. Travel is allowed intra-Hawaii, and 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

Right after the change was made, commenter UAPhil discovered the change was worse than American had announced.

Currently, AA is not allowing bookings from mainland US to an international destination combining another partner with Hawaiian. For example, on March 28, 2016, there is availability [Alaska Airlines San Jose – Honolulu] as a business (first) class award, and there is availability Hawaiian [Honolulu – Auckland] as a business class award, but you cannot book [San Jose – Auckland] as a single business class award (you could book this prior to September 1). Not sure whether this is a glitch, or represents American’s new policy.

It turns out this is a new policy. Per JonNYC at TravelingBetter.com:

AAdvantage members who wish to fly between the 48US and Hawaiian Airlines destinations beyond Hawaii, will be required to use 2 AAdvantage awards for each one-way journey.

If you want to fly Los Angeles – Honolulu – Papeete, Tahiti you will be charged one award Los Angeles – Honolulu and another award Honolulu – Papeete. Ouch.

This was not part of American’s announcement of the change. They announced the end of flying between the US and Hawaii on Hawaiian effective September 1, but did not include or publish anywhere that they would require redeeming a separate award for travel beyond Hawaii on Hawaiian. To me that’s dirty pool. But then they don’t publish most of their award rules at all to begin with, hence the need for this Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American Miles. (Bookmark it…)

As for this change, let’s say you wanted to book what UAPhil was trying for — US to New Zealand in business class. That’s normally 62,500 miles each way.

Instead, he’ll pay:

  • 37,500 miles for San Jose – Honolulu
  • 62,500 miles for Honolulu – Auckland

That’s 100,000 miles each way, 200,000 miles roundtrip an increase of 75,000 miles on a roundtrip to Auckland. And the Hawaiian Airlines inflight product isn’t really even that good for a long haul flight…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. A related lesson: Don’t rely on award holds in a situation like this. I “5 day held” my 62,500 mile itinerary SJC-HNL-AKL on August 28. On September 1 the system still showed the award was “on hold”, but would not allow me to purchase it. I was able to get a phone agent to confirm it for me. The agent commented “the system wants more miles”, but was able to manually put it through for the original 62,500 miles. I suspect I was very lucky….AA could have refused to ticket the held award for the original price after the rules had changed.

    (Gary, I agree Hawaiian does not offer a great business class product. But they are the only option for flying from the West Coast to Auckland during the day – everyone else requires an overnight flight. So I am really relieved to have this itinerary ticketed and confirmed.)

  2. I thought AA had learned its lesson about communicating changes? Really this is another unannounced devaluation since it was left out of the original announcement about no more HA awards mainland-the islands. Still trust AA?

    Also since AA chooses not to invest in showing most of its partners online, HA awards were at least one option for certain routes that could be booked online. Now the online availability of HA is practically worthless. Sure you can call but the last time I tried I was twice cut off after a half hour or more hold. At least most partners are bookable online with UA.

    While AA has not yet gone the DL/UA model of changes, its plan of slow but steady devaluations to AAdvantage seems to be continuing. Not shocking but it is a shame.

  3. I just flew Kuala Lumpur-Abu Dhabi-Sao Paulo on Etihad — and was charged for two awards, because AA doesn’t have a price for Asia to South America. I think it’s kind of ridiculous. Raise the price if you want or make a new pricing category, but just add the two awards. It was 30k plus 90k miles for business class one-way… 90k would have been an acceptable (if extremely steep) price. I had to do it anyway and had the miles but wow…

  4. @Dave C – are you saying that you would pop into Hawaii, get married, and fly out to Australia all within your 24 hour connection window? If so, that would be a pretty awesome miles/points story.

  5. I really wish once they were announcing 1 change involving AAdv miles on HA effective September 1st, that would have announced the other change involving AAdv miles on HA effective September 1st.

  6. Gary, I booked flifgt firm dfw to San to Hnl through aa using aa and Alaska metal and then wanted to add ha to kona. Aa wants extra 5k and will not budge. Had same issue on kona Hnl dfw flight on aa f where I had to pay extra 5k for coach and 37.5 in first as they said it’s different from the f award . When I asked if it can be voluntary downgrade on ha flifgt , they said its still 5k more This doesn’t happen on one world partners to Europe so is this correct? Thanks for your input

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