Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 5 – American Airlines, Alaska Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines for North American awards

 Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:

American Airlines Awards

Booking travel within North America (as defined by American Airlines) using American Airlines miles is very easy to do (if there are award seats available) and can be completed on AA.com (unless you’re booking seats on Hawaiian Airlines).

According to American Airlines, North America refers to the US (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

For flights within North America, you can use your American Airlines miles for award flights on:

  • American Airlines (including American Eagle etc.)
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific from New York (JFK) to Vancouver, Qantas from Los Angeles to New York (JFK), and LAN from New York (JFK) to Toronto

You can search for award seats on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines online at AA.com and you can complete or put the booking on hold at AA.com

You can hold your award for 5 days if booked between 330 and 15 days prior to departure, 1 day if booked within 14 days of departure, and for 2 hours if booked within 24 hours of departure.  There is NO charge for holding an award.

But you have to call American Airlines reservations (& pay a $25 booking fee unless you are a top tier Executive Platinum) for flights on Hawaiian Airlines.  We’ll cover how to search for Hawaiian Airlines award availability later in this post so that you don’t have to rely on the telephone agent to find you flights!

General Rules

  • You can book a maximum of 4 one-way awards on single ticket
  • The award booking window opens 330 days prior to the flight’s departure
  • Changes to award tickets (both MileSAAver & AAnytime) are free as long as the origin and destination remain the same
  • $150 fee to cancel and redeposit the miles into your account ($25 for additional tickets from the same account) waived only for top tier Executive Platinum members
  • All travel must be completed within 1 year (365 days) of making the booking
  • No stopovers are allowed on awards within North America
  • You have to connect to another flight within 4 hours (regardless of award availability) unless the next scheduled flight is more than 4 hours away (but less than 24 hours)

Booking awards on American Airlines & Alaska Airlines

Booking awards on American Airlines & Alaska Airlines within North America is extremely easy to do on-line at AA.com.

That’s because American Airlines has the best online booking tool for domestic awards which will let you:

  • See availability for both low level (MileSAAver) and high-level (AAnytime) awards
  •  Show you a 30 day calendar view of award availability at a time
  • Sort availability by class of service

You don’t even need to be an AAdvantage member to see award availability!

Award Booking Tips for Domestic Awards

1.   Book Early.   I’ve noticed that availability tends to be the best once the schedule is loaded 330 days from the day of departure.  Of course, airlines continually add or remove award availability, but if you know that you visit Florida every year during the 3rd week of August, it is probably best to book your seats earlier rather than later.

2.  Be Flexible.  It will be very hard to get your family of 4 on the same flight unless you are flexible or book early.  And even then it may not be possible. Try to break up your family of 4 into say, 1 adult & 1 child and look for separate flights to and from your destination.  Or look for flexibility around your travel dates.  Or try to get 2 first class and 2 coach seats on the same flight.  Or choose a destination based on award availability.

3.  Consider Business SAAver awards.  Before spending twice the amount of miles for a coach AAnytime seat (which guarantees you last seat availability) look for Business Class SAAver awards.  Very often there are business class seats available for the same price as coach awards!

4.  Dummy Searches.  Do dummy searches using the American Airlines award tool to see award availability.  It is just like searching for a flight and you’ll see what your options are.  You’ll also get more familiar with the tool which will help you as you book more awards.

5.  Be Patient.  Booking awards can be very frustrating.  But if you’re patient and flexible, you’ll usually get the award you’re looking for.

6.  1 Seat at a time.  Instead of searching for 4 seats, start by searching for 1 seat and increase the number of seats with each search.  You’ll get a better sense of how many tickets are available.

American Airlines Award Booking Video

Here’s a video from American Airlines on how to use the online award booking tool.

American Airlines Award Booking Screenshots

Here are a few screenshots to help get started with searches on AA.com

Step 1

Go to AA.com

Step 2

Enter in your flight information and select “Redeem AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines Award

Searching for award flights on AA.com

Step 3

You can see award availability in 30 day blocks and can search for award seats based on MileSAAver (regular) or AAnytime (double-priced) awards.

American Airlines Awards

30 day view of award availability

Hawaiian Airlines Award Booking

You can use your American Airlines miles for flights on Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii.  However, you can’t see award availability on AA.com for Hawaiian Airlines.

So we’ve got to search for super saver award availability on Hawaiian Airlines using the Hawaiian Airlines website, write those flight numbers down, and then call American Airlines reservations and ask them to book the flights.

Sure, we can also rely on the phone agent to search for us, but in my experience it is much better to find the award availability yourself and then ask the agent to book it for you.

Remember, we can’t just go to AA.com and search for Hawaiian Airline availability, because Hawaiian Airlines award flights don’t show up on AA.com

This may be confusing at first, so here’s what we are trying to do.  We’re trying to find award seats on Hawaiian Airlines which can be booked using American Airlines miles.

American Airlines charges 17,500 miles for a 1-way off-peak coach award, 22,500 for a 1-way regular MileSAAver coach award, and 37,500 miles for a 1-way Business/First class award to Hawaii.  If we book an award using American Airline miles, we’re going to have to pay what American Airlines charges.

Not all awards on Hawaiian Airlines (if you search for awards on the Hawaiian Airlines website) can be booked using American Airline miles.  Only Hawaiian Airline Super Saver awards which are 20,000 miles 1-way in coach (17,500 miles if you have the Hawaiian Airlines credit card) and 40,000 miles (1-way in First Class can be booked using American Airline miles.

We’ll check award availability for Hawaiian Airlines Super Saver awards on the Hawaiian Airlines website, but we’ll have to call American Airlines to book those flights – because we’re using American Airline miles.

Hawaiian Airlines Non-Stop Flights

Hawaiian Airlines flies non-stop to Honolulu from:

  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • Oakland
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Fransisco
  • San Jose
  • Seattle

Hawaiian Airlines also flies non-stop to Maui from:

  • Las Vegas
  • Oakland
  • Portland
  • Seattle

Searching for Hawaiian Airlines Award Flights

Step 1

Sign-up for a free HawaiianMiles account which will let you check award availability on Hawaiian Airlines flights.

Step 2

Sign-in to your HawaiianMiles account.

Step 3

Click on “Book Travel” on the top and then select “Find a Flight” from the drop-down menu.

American Airlines Award

Checking Hawaiian Air award availability

Step 4

Enter in your departure city, destination, and travel dates & click “Continue

American Airlines Award

Enter your flight information

Step 5

Select “View fares by Miles” in the top left hand side.

You can click on the “View fares by Month” to see availability, in 30 day blocks, on a calendar.

American Airlines Award

Sort to see availability by miles or on a calendar

Remember, that only the Super Saver coach flights for 20,000 miles (17,500 miles if you have the Hawaiian Air credit card) or Super Saver First Class flights for 40,000 miles can be booked using American Airlines miles.  And you have to call American Airlines to book these flights.

However, you can’t sort the calendar by 1st class or coach awards, so you’re better of using the “View fares by Miles” option if you’re looking for first class saver awards (40,000 miles).

If you’re looking for coach awards you can use the calendar view.

Step 6

Once you find Super Saver award availability for your flights (20,000 miles in coach or 40,000 in business), write down the flight details.

American Airlines Award

Write down the flight information

For example, “HA 3 departing at 10:30 am from Los Angeles and arriving at Honolulu at 1:15 pm on August 24, 2012.”

Step 7

If you’re NOT departing from a city from which Hawaiian Airlines has direct service to Hawaii, you would need to find availability to that city using AA.com

For example, I couldn’t find availability using AA.com from Kansas City to Honolulu.

So I used steps 1 to 5 above to check Hawaiian Airlines award availability from different cities.  I found a First Class seat on August 24 from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines at the 40,000 mile level which can be booked using American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines reservations.

But I need to get from Kansas City to Los Angeles.   So I look for award availability  from Kansas City to Los Angeles on AA.com

Once I find availability from my departure city (Kansas City in this case) to the Hawaiian Airlines departure city (Los Angeles), I’ll write down the series of flights on both American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines and call American Airlines reservation and ask them to book the itinerary.

Since I’m using American Airline miles, I’ll pay either 17,500 miles for a 1-way off-peak coach award, 22,500 for a 1-way regular MileSAAver coach award, or 37,500 miles for a 1-way Business/First class award to Hawaii.

I’ll still pay the same amount of American Airline miles above if I book a direct flight to Hawaii from Los Angeles on partner airline Hawaiian Airlines or if I combine the itinerary with American Airlines flights from Kansas City to Los Angeles and then fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines.

I’ll feed the agent the information segment by segment and ask to put the award on hold.  Once the award is on hold, I’ll check to make sure that the dates and times match and then call back and ask the agent to ticket the flight.

Hawaii, here I come!

Next in the series will be: booking international awards.

126 Responses to Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 5 – American Airlines, Alaska Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines for North American awards

  1. I am looking to book AA award travel for our family of 4 from ORD to MAUI over Christmas 2014. Since it is such a popular time time I know I have to book my ORD to OGG segment first and then wait until the return dates open to book those. Are there anymore tips or suggestions for this booking that you can offer? Thanks-I’ve tried before in past years and have been unsuccessful. Thanks in advance.

  2. @Tammy – 4 seats at one time will be tough. You can set alerts on ExpertFlyer to let you know when seats open up.

  3. Can one use aa miles to book the HA HNL-PPT flight? If so, how many miles?

  4. Disregard-learned in the comments in the Tahiti nui post.

  5. AA wouldn’t let me do 50k for business class ORY-JFK on 6/24/14, and then JFK-HNL direct on Hawaiian a few months later. Said that Hawaiian Airlines isn’t included. told me it would be 50k + 35k.
    Any help?!?

  6. I’m trying to book NYC – Hawaii and would prefer to fly in business (this is my honeymoon).
    AA doesn’t have flights available as MilesSAAver, Hawaiian has 80,000 first class tickets.
    Are there alternate options such as Avios on British? I’m not familiar with that but would really like to book flights and plan the rest of our trip!

  7. @Allan – There has to be a published fare for that trip to be able to book it as an award.

    @Jeremy – British Airways Avios gets you access to the same seats as American Airlines, so that wouldn’t help. You could try searching on United.com to see if United has any flights.

  8. @MMS it was published. AA agent gave my some bullcrap answer as to why flight on Hawaiian flight would be extra 35k pts. Have a flight already booked, any changes will be $150/pp. Any way around it?

  9. Hi Daraius,

    If I book an AAdvantage award ticket that flies on US A or Alaska, and that I later make a change in the dates (not the origin and destination), is the change free or will I be charged because the flights are not on AA?
    I asked AA and got two different answers.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  10. @Rich – There shouldn’t be a change fee if the dates remain the same.

  11. Hi Daraius,

    Thanks for showing us how to book flights with HA using AA miles. I would like to book flight from nyc to kona, which shows up as 45k miles on AA in June (says 22.5k economy is not available, but on HA website, it is available with the Super Saver coach 20,000 miles). Would I have to use 45k AA miles for this trip? Is there any way to get it for 22.5k? I’m going in June, which counts as off-peak season. Not sure why it’s coming up as 45k miles. The trip from NYC to Honolulu comes up as 22.5k on AA website. Thanks!

  12. @Lexi – American Airlines now shows only the Hawaiian Air award seats which they can book. So you’ll have to pay the rate on the American Airlines website.

  13. I see some Hawaiian airlines flights when I look thru the Aadvantage award website. Have they added this feature since you wrote the post? Would i be able to book it online to avoid the $25? Thanks

  14. @Vivi – They added Hawaiian Air flights to the search engine online, so you can book them online without paying the $25 fee.

  15. Planning ahead for possible trip to OGG from NYC in Feb 2015. So, playing around with mid-Jan (say 1/16/2015) now. On AA.com, I see nothing for NYC-OGG, but see very, very limited 17.5K availability on JFK-HNL on HA (single seat). On HA.com, I see pretty much all 20K awards for JFK-OGG for 4 people (JFK-HNL, HNL-OGG).

    So, I guess the big question is any possibility to book the JFK-OGG with AA miles since it shows up at 20k rate online? Or not really. If you planned ahead you used to be able to get awards from NYC to Hawaii on the days they opened, doesn’t look like the case anymore.

  16. @JV – You can only book what shows on AA.com. I’d set seat alerts via ExpertFlyer to let you know when seats are released.

  17. OK, 2nd question. What if you see the JFK-HNL on HA available for 17.5k on AA.com, and also a HNL-XXX (where XXX is KOA, OGG, LIH) available for 5k on AA.com. Is there anyway to get something like JFK-HNL-(KOA/OGG/LIH) for 17.5k by directly calling or would it be 17.5+5=22.5k?

  18. @JV – You may be able to book that on aa.com by searching for JFK – XXX, but try calling if not.

  19. So I see all flights from JFK-LIH (one way) and OGG-JFK (one way) for 20K, yet no way of finding this on AA.com – can I book these flights through the call-center, and can I get the phone fees waived?

  20. @Joe S – You can now see Hawaiian Air flights on AA.com, and if you can’t book them on AA.com, you likely won’t be able to call and book them as well.

  21. Question – On AA.com, I booked a round trip flight on Hawaiian Air from PDX to Honolulu by redeeming American miles. How can I book seat assignments? I tried going to Hawaiian Air – the site can pull up my reservation but when I try to click on the seat assignments – I get the message that changes to this reservation cannot be made online. Is that correct? thanks.

  22. @Karla – You can call Hawaiian Air to make the assignments.

  23. Can you tell me why, when using AA award miles to go from London to any AA gateway city in the US there is such a big difference in taxes on AA flights compared with British Airways flights, a OneWorld partner? I know the British gov’t imposes a large departure tax on long-haul flights out of the UK, but why are the taxes so much higher on BA than on AA? No one at BA or AA has ever been able to sensibly answer this question for me. For this reason, I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to redeem award miles on BA, at least on flights out of the UK!

  24. @Anne – British Airways passes along expensive fuel surcharges which American Airlines doesn’t.

  25. Deborah Graciel

    Hey there, I am hoping you can answer this question for me. Everytime I have tried to book an international flight with American using miles, the non-stop flights are never an option. I don’t want to waste hard-earned vacation time sitting in an airport waiting hours for an unnecessary connection. Do you know why, and do you have any suggestions. Thank you

  26. Hoe to get a direct flight using AA award miles. Last two tips, many stops round and round and long airport waits. Any better luck if I book a year in advance? Thanks

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