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American Airlines' longest Hawaii flight just got a big schedule boost

April 12, 2021
4 min read
American Dreamliner
American Airlines' longest Hawaii flight just got a big schedule boost
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The demand for Hawaii flights is seemingly at a pandemic-era high.

Over the weekend, American Airlines extended the schedule for its Charlotte (CLT) to Honolulu (HNL) flight, giving flyers over three more months of daily, nonstop service on that route. It was originally supposed to run seasonally from May 6 through Sept. 7, but now it will operate through Jan. 3, 2022, per Cirium timetables.

American flies the 273-seat Boeing 777-200 on the 10-hour, 4,678-mile hop. The aircraft feature 37 business-class pods, 24 premium economy recliners and 212 coach seats. These jets have two types of business-class seats — and it’s nearly impossible to know which one you’ll get until a day or two before the flight.

Notably, American's longest of over a dozen Hawaii routes will run through the holidays, giving East Coast-based vacationers more one-stop choices to get to the Aloha state. In October 2020, Hawaii began allowing mainland visitors to present a recent negative COVID-19 test in lieu of a mandated ten-day quarantine.

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The eased entry policy has caused a surge in demand from pandemic-weary travelers looking for a beachside escape. Most international destinations remain closed to Americans, so Hawaii's appeal is likely even stronger nowadays.

In response, most major U.S. airlines have launched or expanded service to the islands, and some visitors, including TPG's Clint Henderson, have noted that "Hawaii is again packed with tourists."

American's top-notch Boeing 777 biz cabin (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

But American's CLT to HNL boost isn't just about matching supply with demand. It also renews confidence in this route that failed years ago.

The Charlotte-to-Honolulu market has an interesting history. Prior to its merger with American Airlines, US Airways began serving the route on Dec. 17, 2009. Three-and-a-half months later, in April 2010, the airline said it would suspend the flights at the end of the summer travel season, largely because of high fuel prices. The service lasted nine months, until Sept. 8.

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Despite US Airways' strong East Coast presence (and Charlotte hub) in 2009, it was a surprisingly quick decision to drop the service just months after it started.

More route history: American will give Charlotte-Honolulu a second try

Ten years later, and some wondered if American's CLT-HNL run would fare better than it did after the prior attempt by US Airways.

However, thanks to the pandemic, today's network planning strategy looks much different.

For one, jet fuel prices are hovering at $1.68 a gallon, compared to around $2 a gallon 10 years ago, according to data from Airlines for America.

There are also many more spare airplanes. With long-haul travel largely off-limits, American has plenty of unused wide-body jets. Instead of flying them across the Atlantic, the carrier has been deploying them an increasing number of domestic routes, like Dallas/Fort Worth to Anchorage, Miami to Boston and now, Charlotte to Honolulu.

More widebodies: American Airlines schedules wide-body jets on 3 unexpected domestic routes

As such, the opportunity cost of trying new routes is minimal. American's vice president of network planning, Brian Znotins recently explained to TPG that "the cost of experimentation these days is very low."

While American might be experimenting with another stab at CLT to HNL, it appears that the second time just might be the charm. Coupled with the increased demand and low opportunity cost, AA isn't just relaunching the service — it's extending it, too.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees