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Hawaii: The magical chain of volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific featuring incredible beaches, stunning mountains and wonderful resorts. Best of all, U.S. citizens don't need a passport to visit. And if you have American Airlines miles or elite status, you might consider booking American Airlines flights to Hawaii.
However, you'll want to book carefully. That's because American Airlines flights to Hawaii can be a very different experience depending on your routing. So, let's take a look at American Airlines direct flights to Hawaii and give you advice about which routes you might want to take.
» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage program: The complete guide
Does American fly direct to Hawaii?
American Airlines currently operates 10 routes to four different Hawaiian islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the island of Hawaii. These flights fall into two types of flights, each with a different set of onboard amenities: Flagship Hawaii flights and standard domestic flights.
American Airlines Flagship Hawaii flights
Flagship Hawaii flights offer free meals, in-flight entertainment screens, a true premium economy cabin and lie-flat seats in business class. Unfortunately, these Flagship Hawaii flights are currently limited to just two routes:
Dallas-Fort Worth to Honolulu (Oahu).
Dallas-Fort Worth to Kahului (Maui).
American Airlines previously operated Flagship flights to Hawaii from Charlotte, North Carolina and Chicago. Although currently suspended, these routes will be considered Flagship Hawaii flights if they return to the schedule:
Dallas-Fort Worth to Kona (island of Hawaii).
Chicago-O'Hare to Honolulu (Oahu).
Charlotte to Honolulu (Oahu).
Other American non-Flagship flights to Hawaii
All other American Airlines direct flights to Hawaii are treated like any other domestic flight. Most of these flights use standard domestic aircraft, typically the Airbus A321neo. That means no seatback entertainment screens and simple recliner chairs in first class. These routes include:
Los Angeles to Honolulu (Oahu).
Los Angeles to Kahului (Maui).
Los Angeles to Kona (island of Hawaii).
Los Angeles to Lihue (Kauai).
Phoenix to Honolulu (Oahu).
Phoenix to Kahului (Maui).
Phoenix to Kona (island of Hawaii).
Phoenix to Lihue (Kauai).
» Learn more: The complete guide to redeeming American Airlines miles
Why you want to book Flagship flights to Hawaii
For the best experience flying to Hawaii, you'll want to fly one of American Airlines' Flagship flights to Hawaii. Flagship Hawaii flights are operated using internationally configured wide-body aircraft.
As these aircraft are built for long overseas flights, every passenger will get a personal in-flight entertainment screen and power outlet. In addition, Flagship Hawaii routes include a free meal for all passengers.
Meanwhile, non-Flagship American flights to Hawaii generally don't have in-flight entertainment screens, and economy passengers will only be served "refreshments" (aka snacks).
Flagship Hawaii routes also offer a true premium economy product. Because of how American Airlines configured its aircraft, these premium economy seats are nearly identical to the first-class seats you'd fly to Hawaii on non-Flagship routes. The main difference? You'll get an in-flight entertainment screen in premium economy — but not first class.
If you book Flagship business class — or score a coveted elite upgrade on one of these routes — you'll get:
A spacious seat that lies flat into a bed.
Hot meals and free alcoholic drinks.
An amenity kit.
Flagship Lounge access before your flight.
How to find cheap American flights to Hawaii with miles
What's better than a trip to Hawaii? How about an almost-free trip to Hawaii. By using airline miles, you can cut the out-of-pocket cost for your Hawaii flights to just the taxes and fees — which are generally only $11.20 per person round trip.
Not surprisingly, you can use AAdvantage miles to book American Airlines flights to Hawaii. However, you also have the option to book using miles from any other Oneworld airline partner.
Using American Airlines AAdvantage miles
Based on the American Airlines award chart, one-way MileSAAver awards from the contiguous U.S. or Canada to Hawaii cost:
20,000 AAdvantage miles for economy off-peak awards.
22,500 AAdvantage miles for economy standard awards.
50,000 AAdvantage miles for premium economy.
55,000 AAdvantage miles for business class in recliner chairs.
62,500 AAdvantage miles for business class in lie-flat seats.
However, American Airlines has effectively implemented dynamic award pricing through its Web Special awards. So, American flights to Hawaii can cost in dollars much less — or much more — than the award chart price.
Using British Airways Avios
If you're flying to Hawaii from Los Angeles or Phoenix, check out the British Airways sweet spot for Hawaii flights. As long as you fly on a nonstop American flight to Hawaii on these under-3,000-mile routes, you'll only pay 13,000 Avios each way — or 26,000 Avios round trip.
Don't have Avios? No worries. You can also transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Capital One rewards to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.
When to use bank points to book American Hawaii flights
If you find a cheap cash price on American Airlines flights to Hawaii, you may want to pass on redeeming airline miles and reach for your stash of bank points instead.
Using Chase Ultimate Rewards® points
Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards® points at 1.5 cents per point for paid travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal. That means you'll only need 13,133 Ultimate Rewards® points to pay for a $197 round flight from Los Angeles to Maui.
Either way, booking through Chase requires fewer points than using 40,000 AAdvantage miles or 26,000 British Airways Avios to book the same round-trip flights.
Using AmEx Membership Rewards points
In addition to having the option to transfer points to British Airways to book American awards, most AmEx cardholders can redeem Membership Rewards points for flights at 1 cent per point through AmEx Travel.
For cheap American Airlines flights to Hawaii, you'll spend fewer points by booking paid fares through the AmEx travel portal than transferring to British Airways.
For example, a $197 round-trip flight between Los Angeles and Maui will only cost you 19,700 AmEx points round trip. That's fewer than the 26,000 Avios required to book award flights. Plus, you won't have to pay taxes and fees, and you'll earn airline miles from the flights.
Just beware that you might not find the cheapest flights available through the AmEx travel portal because it doesn't show basic economy fares.
Using Citi ThankYou Points
You can also use Citi ThankYou Points to book American Airlines flights to Hawaii. Like with AmEx, eligible Citi cardholders can use ThankYou Points at 1 cent per point. So again, a $197 round-trip American Airlines flight to Hawaii would cost you close to 19,700 points — although it looks like you get an ever-so-slight discount through the Citi ThankYou portal.
However, it's worth checking the Citi ThankYou travel portal as it will sometimes offer fares that are cheaper than what's available on American's website. The tradeoff: You might have to take an extra stop to get cheaper rates.
If you're considering booking American Airlines flights to Hawaii
Compared to other U.S. airlines, American Airlines offers relatively few flights to Hawaii. However, by booking the right flight, you can have an excellent experience — including free meals, seatback entertainment screens and potentially even a lie-flat bed. Look for American's Flagship Hawaii flights to score the best onboard experience.
All other American Airlines flights to Hawaii will simply provide the standard domestic flight experience.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card