Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly to Hawaii for 20,000 AAdvantage miles each way

Aug 15, 2021

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As international travel remains complicated for many destinations, American travelers have flocked to Hawaii. After all, TPG senior editor Clint Henderson described traveling to Hawaii while vaccinated as “easy, breezy, beautiful” earlier this summer. And early reports show travelers are still flocking to Hawaii despite the delta variant surge.

You might assume a flight to Hawaii will be expensive. But, especially when paid rates are high, you can save a lot of money by redeeming airline miles for your flight. There are many ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles, but today I’ll discuss a Hawaii sweet spot that travelers with American Airlines AAdvantage miles may want to utilize: American Airlines off-peak awards.

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In This Post

Why it’s special

American Airlines 777-300ER in main cabin
You can snag a 777-300ER on select domestic routes, including some to Hawaii. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As I mentioned above, there are many ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles. And there are some excellent sweet spots to consider if you have transferable points. For example, I’ve recently discussed how to fly to Hawaii for 13,000 British Airways Avios each way. And I’ve also written about how to fly to Hawaii for just 35,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip. You can even fly to Hawaii for just 15,000 Turkish miles round-trip.

But, if you already have American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you may want to redeem these miles before transferring points to another program. After all, points and miles are a bad long-term investment. And points and miles in specific programs like American Airlines AAdvantage are more susceptible to devaluation than transferable points.

Based on American’s award charts, you can redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles as follows for a one-way main cabin economy ticket between Hawaii and the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada:

  • MileSAAver Off Peak: 20,000 miles.
  • MileSAAver: 22,500 miles.
  • AAnytime Level 1: 40,000 miles.
  • AAnytime Level 2: 50,000 miles.

However, you may also see other award prices when you search for a main cabin economy award. After all, you may see Web Special awards for select flights and dates when you search on American Airlines’ website or mobile app. But in this guide, I’ll focus on MileSAAver off-peak awards between the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Hawaii.

You’ll only see MileSAAver off-peak award pricing between the continental U.S. and Hawaii on flights operated by American Airlines. And, as evidenced by the off-peak part of its name, MileSAAver off-peak awards are only available on select dates:

  • To Hawaii: Dec. 29 to March 12, Aug. 11 to Nov. 18 and Nov. 24 to Dec. 10.
  • From Hawaii: Jan. 7 to March 19, Aug. 18 to Nov. 27 and Dec. 3 to Dec. 25.

Of course, you might not find any MileSAAver availability on some off-peak dates and routes. You’ll also need to pay taxes and carrier-imposed fees on these awards. But, if your itinerary doesn’t have any long layovers, the taxes and fees will typically be $5.60 per person per award.

Related: Why I’m concerned about Citi’s transfer partnership with American Airlines

How to book this award

American Airlines makes it relatively easy to search for awards on its website. So, go to aa.com and enter your origin, destination, travel date and number of passengers. I recommend searching for one-way awards since there’s no benefit to booking a round-trip award instead of two one-way awards with American. Be sure to check “Redeem miles” before clicking “Search.”

Booking an award on American Airlines website
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

You’ll hopefully see some results on the next page. You’ll see the minimum price for your search date and surrounding dates, but the first results you see will likely cost more than this minimum price.

Booking an award on American Airlines website
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

You can click the arrow next to “Main Cabin” to sort prices from lowest to highest.

Booking an award on American Airlines website
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

And you can click “Stops,” “Airlines” and “Nearby airports” to filter out specific options. For example, when flying from New York City, I often filter out inconvenient airports.

Filtering awards on American Airlines website
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Although there are multiple MileSAAver off-peak awards bookable on my sample date, I could click on “Calendar” to see my options for other dates. Any of the filters you selected so far should carry over to the calendar search. And as you can see, there’s pretty good MileSAAver off-peak award availability from New York City to Honolulu in January 2022.

Using the award calendar search on American Airlines website
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Click on a date to move forward with booking. If I wanted to depart LGA or JFK on Jan. 20, 2022, I’d have two MileSAAver off-peak award options.

Booking an American Airlines off-peak MileSAAver award to Hawaii
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

Click on the main cabin award cost for the option you want. In this case, I selected the later departure and was shown my trip summary on the next page. At this point, I’d need to log in to continue my booking.

Booking an American Airlines off-peak MileSAAver award to Hawaii
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

After logging in, you’ll need to enter passenger details, decide whether to request 500-mile upgrades (if you have 500-mile upgrades), select seats if you want to and then review and pay for your trip.

Booking an American Airlines off-peak MileSAAver award to Hawaii
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

I have enough miles for this award. But, if I didn’t have enough miles, I assume American Airlines would have told me after I logged in.

Now let’s consider how to earn enough miles for this award.

Related: Cleared for Takeoff: Booking a second Honeymoon in Hawaii

How to earn miles for this award

Woman holding wallet on the street
(Photo by Orli Friedman/The Points Guy)

This sweet spot is best suited for travelers who already have American Airlines miles in their account. After all, you’ll want to consider other sweet spots to Hawaii if you have transferable points.

But, if you decide an American Airlines award is best for your trip and you need to earn more American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you can transfer points to American AAdvantage from:

Or, you could sign up for a new American Airlines credit card. Here are some of the best cards and their current sign-up bonuses:

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select and AAdvantage Aviator Red has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

However, note that you’ll need to meet the minimum spending requirements on your new card and then wait for your bonus miles to post. So, signing up for a new card is only a good option if you’re planning your trip well in advance.

If you only need a few extra miles, you can also earn American Airlines miles through the AAdvantage shopping portal, AAdvantage Dining and partner programs. Or, you could consider buying American Airlines miles during a promotion.

Related: American Airlines just raised the cost of some awards — here’s how to pay the lowest rate

Bottom line

If you want to fly to Hawaii, there are many award options to consider. Although American Airlines MileSAAver off-peak awards aren’t the least expensive awards you can book, they can be a good option if you have unused American Airlines miles sitting in your account.

However, it’s also worth checking paid rates. After all, we’ve recently seen several flight deals to Hawaii. So, be sure to consider whether to pay cash or points for your flight before booking. If you’re not sure how to compare, check out how this article on how to decide whether to redeem points for a flight or pay cash. If you choose to pay cash for your flight, consider using one of the best credit cards for airfare to maximize your earnings.

Featured photo of Makena Beach on Maui by Tor Johnson/Hawaii Tourism Authority.

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