Flying to Hawaii Comfortably – and Expensively (with Miles)


Level 2 Member

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are getting some time off to be with loved ones and/or do some fun travel. For me it’s the latter. I’m onboard a refurbished AA 777-200 business class with 1-2-1 reverse herringbone seats. It’s a great way to sit comfortably for 8 hours en eoute to the 50th state, though not without a price to match.

Our backyard in Maui

I paid Anytime rate (gasp) of 67,500 miles for IND-DFW-OGG, the latter segment featuring the 777. For perspective, this used to be the price for First Classs to SE Asia. It’s also 15% more than current business class to Europe or southern South America. Believe me, I debated hard between this treat and the economy seat (3-4-3 config) for 22,500 miles that was available for surprisingly a long time – perhaps a testament to AA’s promise to improve award space. In the end, I pulled the trigger for 3 reasons. One, it’s way better than economy. Two, my first flight of the day started at 6am, and with the time difference I’m likely to be up for 24 hours, so I could use some rest on the plane. Three, I have a good stash of AA miles.

There were also some downsides. There could be a equipment swap to an inferior configuration, or Saver business class could open last minute which can be upgraded to without change fee from economy. Also I have Gold status and can likely snag an extra legroom seat. I did the research – equipment swap seemed unlikely, as did last minute Saver availability given historic trend on that route. Well, Anytime it is.

The way I see it, this is probably the most comfy option from mainland to Hawaii. It’s better than most business class options to Europe and South America. And the flight time is equivalent. Hawaii is mostly a leisure route with crappy configuration for those of us fortunate with miles. So this was a treat indeed.

The seats are new and stylish IMO. I like the chrome look.

How was the flight?

Surprisingly decent. I’ve experienced some rough service on AA’s premium international cabins before. The crew here was a mix of indifferent and great, which is as good as one can expect from AA.

I was one of the last passengers to board. Typical of AA service, no one offered me pre flight beverage (other passengers had it). No biggie, and I’ll point out this even happened on my last Cathay Pacific business class from HK to U.S. (gasp). But the gal who worked my aisle was fantastic; she was patient and empathetic.

Unfortunately AA doesn’t use Gogo WiFi on their 777-200, so I couldn’t use one of my 12 passes from Altitude Reserve card (also available from Amex Business Platinum).

In a nutshell

I’ve redeemed millions of miles for myself and my loved ones. This is only the 2nd or 3rd time I ever redeem at the non-saver level (another time was to Alaska using Delta miles). Many savvy points users won’t consider such usage. I usually won’t either, but I think this was a case where it made sense. Unfortunately I’m flying United economy on the way back.

Have you ever redeemed at above-Saver level before?

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Level 2 Member
Yep; I redeemed 90k per BusinessFirst seat for the UL redeye HNL-IAD for me and my 2 sons in March (still a bargain compared to the cash price) and don't regret it. Glad that I had the miles to do it; the memories are priceless.