The Guide to American Airlines Flights to Hawaii

American's Flagship flights are the way to go when booking a fare to Hawaii. Just be ready to pay for premium.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Updated

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Hawaii is a bucket list destination for many, and U.S. citizens love the fact they can visit a tropical paradise without a passport. But reaching this island state can be quite a trek for some travelers, especially those coming from the East Coast.

The onboard experience for your flight there can vary quite a bit depending on the route you take when flying American Airlines. Given the distance, it will vary based on the aircraft and flight time as well as if you have AAdvantage elite status. Paying for a premium cabin seat can also offer a variety of options.

For American Airlines passengers, let’s take a look at the nonstop flight options to Hawaii to better understand which routes offer the best onboard experience.

What nonstop routes does American operate to Hawaii?

American Airlines, like other carriers, operates flights based on the season, day of the week and demand. At press time, the airline was flying on an average weekday to four different Hawaiian islands on 10 routes.

The island destinations are: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Island of Hawaii (commonly referred to as the Big Island). Among these, there are two categories of flights that American offers: Flagship Hawaii flights (using widebody aircraft often seen on international routes) and standard domestic flights using the Airbus A321).

What are American Airlines Flagship Hawaii flights?

Flagship Hawaii flights in economy class offer free meals in all cabins, in-flight entertainment screens, premium economy seating and lie-flat seats in business class.

At the moment, Flagship Hawaii flights are currently limited to just two routes:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth to Honolulu.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth to Kahului.

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What are the other American flights to Hawaii?

These are the remainder of American Airlines’ nonstop flights to Hawaii, which are on the narrowbody Airbus A321neo. These planes are also used on standard domestic routes, and they lack seatback entertainment screens in both cabins, a proper premium economy class and lie-flat beds in the premium cabin. This more barebones experience is available on these routes:

  • Los Angeles to Honolulu.

  • Los Angeles to Kahului.

  • Los Angeles to Kona.

  • Los Angeles to Lihue.

  • Phoenix to Honolulu.

  • Phoenix to Kahului.

  • Phoenix to Kona.

  • Phoenix to Lihue.

In the past, American has also flown from Dallas-Fort Worth to Kona and from Charlotte and Chicago-O’Hare to Honolulu. These are not currently operating.

What makes Flagship flights to Hawaii different?

American Airlines' Flagship flights to Hawaii offer a better overall experience, regardless of cabin, because they use internationally configured wide-body aircraft. All seats feature inflight entertainment screens, power outlets, complimentary meals and complimentary drinks, including beer, wine and spirits.

This is in contrast to flights on the Airbus A321. On these planes, complimentary soft drinks and snacks (generally, pretzels or buy-on-board sandwiches, salads and other items) are available in economy and meals and an open bar are offered in the premium cabin.

Passengers on select routes can book a Flagship business class seat. This elevated experience includes:

  • A flat-bed seat.

  • Hot meals and an open bar.

  • Amenity kit from D.S. & Durga.

  • Casper bedding with duvet and pillow.

  • Access to the Flagship Lounge.

If you don’t want to pay for Flagship business, the carrier also offers premium economy on these routes. This ticket comes with a Casper day blanket and pillow, complimentary meals and drinks, wider seats and free entertainment.

How to search for award flights to Hawaii with miles

Airline miles can be a great way to save money on your next Hawaiian vacation. You can use any Oneworld mileage program to go to Hawaii including Alaska Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage or British Airways Avios. When using airline miles, you will want to search for the best deal, and you may even need to rely on transferring credit card points to airline miles. You will just need to pay the taxes on the ticket.

How to use American Airlines AAdvantage miles

American uses a dynamic pricing model to determine the number of miles you need for a trip. This means you can get a good deal or an inflated price depending on your flexibility.

🤓Nerdy Tip

To find better deals, avoid travel around the holidays and be willing to shift your travel dates if possible.

American also has a calendar search feature on its website that can help you determine cheaper days to travel on mileage.

A one-way economy class ticket could cost as little as 22,500 miles each way, and on some days, you can get a business class ticket for as few as 55,000 miles. Just take note that often the lower mileage awards in the premium cabin are not for Flagship business class. You will pay more to redeem miles for a lie-flat seat.

How to use British Airways Avios for a flight to Hawaii

The Avios program uses a distance-based model for its redemptions although it does not publish an award chart. The shorter your flight, the fewer miles you would need. For example, an American flight from Los Angeles or Phoenix to Hawaii would fall into one of British Airways sweet spots for Hawaii flights.

For example, a nonstop American flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii is under 3,000 miles so you would pay 10,000 Avios for a one-way, off-peak ticket. In business class (remember this is not a Flagship route), you would need 31,250 points for a one-way, off-peak ticket.

If you need to top up your Avios account, the program is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards®, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Capital One to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.

You can also transfer points from Aer Lingus, Finnair, Iberia and Qatar Airways, all of which use Avios as their award currency.

How to use Alaska miles for an American flight to Hawaii

The Alaska Airlines website makes it quite easy to search for award flights on its website.

booking american airlines flights to hawaii on alaska

As a Oneworld partner, it offers flights on its own planes to Hawaii as well as on American Airlines. The airline also makes it easy to see how many miles you need for a flight with its calendar feature at the top of the search page.

When to use credit card points for American flights to Hawaii

Sometimes it makes sense to use credit card points to book travel instead of cash or airline miles since these are typically valued at a penny each.

This means that a $200 one-way flight could cost 20,000 credit card points. If you can’t find an award flight, booking travel in an online portal of a major bank rewards/transferable currency program is an option to consider.

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards® can be the best option

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®card, you know that your points are worth even more since they can be redeemed at 1.5 cents per point for paid travel through its Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. That $200 one-way flight would only cost 13,333 points using this card.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardandInk Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can accrue 1.25 cents per point in value so that same $200 one-way flight would cost just 16,000 points over.

🤓Nerdy Tip

This represents far greater value than redeeming miles or points from a frequent flyer program directly. Plus, you will earn miles since these flights are booked as if it were a revenue ticket.

Using American Express Membership Rewards points

Most AmEx cardholders earn Membership Rewards points, which can be redeemed through the AmEx Travel Portal at the rate of 1 cent per point.

That $200 one-way flight above would cost 20,000 points, but you would also earn miles for the trip. Plus, you won’t pay any taxes when using a credit card portal since it is factored into the fare already (versus when redeeming miles, you have to pay taxes and fees on top of the actual mileage).

Using Citi ThankYou Points

Citi ThankYou Points can be another valuable resource for booking American Airlines flights to Hawaii. Similar to other credit card transfer partners, Citi cardholders can redeem their ThankYou Points in the Citi Travel Portal at a value of one penny per point. That $200 one-way flight, like with American Express, would cost 20,000 points.

The difference between American Airlines flights to Hawaii

American’s global network can take travelers from any corner of the world to several Hawaiian islands. But, its flights can vary in terms of in-flight experience depending on which route you’re taking.

Flagship Hawaii flights offer a superior overall flight experience, but are only available on. very limited routes. Other nonstop flights offer more standard flight experiences, but will cost less.

Consider booking with AAdvantage miles or another partner. If redemptions aren't available direct on the airline websites, try to use your credit card's travel portal instead.


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 2024, including those best for:

Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

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4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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on Citibank's application

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1x

Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

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Intro offer

70,000

Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Miles
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

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60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

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See more cards
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