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Flights from the East Coast to Maui

Discussion in 'US - Hawaii Timesharing' started by NTP66, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    With my daughter starting kindergarten next year, we are moving our trips to Maui to mid-June. While I have generally kept an eye on flights from the East Coast - PHL, specifically - this is pretty new territory for me. We fly AA exclusively, and I was wondering how prices looked for others nearby. I've been tracking flights for the past month, and they're fluctuating from $1223 to $1254 per person - about $150 more per person than our usual September flights. Does this seem about right?

    To complicate matters more, I'm trying to book economy seats and then upgrade to 1st class using miles, but as of right now there are no award upgrades available. I can book now and hope that the timestamp on my purchase helps if awards become available, but I'm not sure that I want to book right now because of how far we're out.
     
  2. hurnik

    hurnik TUG Member

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    I fly out of Albany, NY, so I'd say those are "average" flight prices regardless of airline or time period (I've looked out as far as I could go in advance and it didn't seem to matter which month I picked, about $1200 pp in coach was what they were going for).

    You could *try* seeing how EWR and/or JFK fares are.

    For upgrading w/miles, AA typically doesn't release those until RM (Revenue Management) thinks they cannot sell any F (First class) seats any longer.

    You might inquire as to the probabilities of success over at the flyertalk forums in the America Airlines sub-forum.

    Let's put it this way:
    I used AA miles to get F seats all the way, and booked at 330 days out. Within a week, ALL F seats were taken/filled for that flight. So it's a very popular route and F is highly desirable. On the plus side, it only cost me 57.5k miles per person per way (230k miles total). That was far better than Delta's 270,000 miles PER TICKET (roundtrip) skymiles.

    We got the "lie flat" seats, but you have to route through DFW to OGG in order to get that. If you're going in 2018, all the 767 non-CIP planes should be retired by then.
     
  3. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    Yeah, I already posted on FlyerTalk, so we'll see how it goes. Honestly, if I could find flights for that low mileage, I'd have booked F right from the start. With me wanting these very specific flights, even at 330 days out it was over 400k miles total, which I consider to be a very bad redemption. As of today, all seats in F for all four flights are still open. I may just have to buy soon and hope for an upgrade, and then record my findings so that I have a better idea in the future.
     
  4. hurnik

    hurnik TUG Member

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    Yeah, I "lucked" out sorta. I'd actually found a few seats on the MilesAAver redemption at 40k, for first class, but it was one seat each on two diff. flights from SEA (I think it was SEA) via Alaska Airlines, but would've required that I take a flight from ALB to PHL to SEA to OGG and my partner to take ALB to ORD to SEA to OGG.

    I wanna say like 2 weeks later, the only flights were 90k miles each way for F.

    I could post back on FT, but my ignorance would probably show. LOL. Eh, maybe I'll chance it anyway.

    Good luck! (I did see some creative ideas).

    I actually ended up using JuicyMiles to assist me as originally I was trying to use KE (Korean Air) miles redeemed on Delta as you can (theoretically) get a roundtrip FC on Delta using 25k miles from KE. Unfortunately it all went to hell when the JuicyMiles folks informed me that Delta only allows those low redemptions if they have a "saver" flight, and Delta almost never has one of those from East Coast. West coast, occasionally and usually at 3-4 weeks out (ugh). I didn't want to chance it and book coach and "hope" that something opened up and I didn't have enough miles on Delta for almost 300k miles for each ticket. So I listed every mileage program/etc. I was in and explained my future travel plans (Australia, Maldives) and we decided it was best to redeem AA at that point and start saving/accruing UA miles.
     
  5. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    Based on what I'm seeing on FT, it sounds like I'm likely SOL on using miles to upgrade since I have no status.

    EWR (United) and JFK (Hawaiian) were slightly cheaper, but when I factor my free checked luggage with American, it almost evens out - and EWR/JFK would be a hassle to get to compared to PHL. I even looked at Alaska where I'd be able to use a companion pass, and even that was essentially the same price with awful flight times; we'd be traveling nearly 5 hours more than what I'm currently looking at.

    As much as I dislike PHL, they're still the best option for us. I have very specific requirements when we go to Hawai'i, like departing between 8am and 10:30am, and arriving back home in the morning. If American added a later flight to OGG via DFW (only 5:29am and 7am right now), then I'd grab Premium Economy seats on their 777 and call it a day. But when I mentioned a 7am flight to my wife, the look she gave me convinced me that she was planning my death. :)

    At the end of the day, I have no problem with the prices, or flying economy. I can always use my miles to just fly everywhere else for free. 420k miles for economy or 645k miles for first class is just an awful redemption, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  6. Fredward

    Fredward TUG Member

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    hurnik likes this.
  7. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    My wife's boss is to blame for us missing out on better award travel this year. She refused to give a firm yes/no on her time off request until last week, so here we are. I think I may just bite the bullet on the AAnywhere economy seats for now and use ExpertFlyer to alert me if better options in F show up later on.
     
  8. tompalm

    tompalm TUG Member

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    If you can travel the first week of June the airfare might be cheaper. As soon as school gets out, take the flight the next day. I have been traveling from Hawaii to Florida for the last 35 years and the increased cost during the periods when kids are out of school hasn't changed. I just checked and tickets to Orlando round trip during May are as cheap as $833. But during summer they are $1150. Also, they cost more if you fly to airports that do not have as much competition. It doesn't matter if you travel to California or NY, the cost goes up when school is out because families love to visit Hawaii with the kids and go to the beach. The flights and hotels fill up and everything cost more.
    Here is a link for google flights and you can check different periods as well as different airports.

    https://www.google.com/flights/#flt=/m/02hrh0_..2017-09-22*./m/02hrh0_.2017-09-26;c:USD;e:1;sd:1;t:e
     
  9. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    This being our first trip to Maui in summer, I booked our timeshare for the second week in June. With our other trips, it's probably the earliest that I could really get away work for now. I do use Google Flights to track all of my flights, and have kept [twice daily] records of them in Excel for a few years now.

    I did end up booking AAnytime award travel in economy for us so that I could get free Main Cabin Extra before that perk disappeared on 9/1. I've got ExpertFlyer looking for MileSAAver seats in first class, though I expect it to come up short for 3 people in total.

    After all of this, I sat down and did the math, and came to the conclusion that it's simply worth ponying up for AAnytime award travel for every trip. I churn enough Citi AA Platinum cards that I should actually have enough to fly a combination of economy and first class every other trip or so. If I can snag SAAver tickets on another trip, great, but for now I'm going to just go this route.
     
  10. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    Could you summarize/share your math for assessing the value of the AAnytime awards? Between my wife and I we have about 1.3 million unused AAdvantage miles that we've been hoarding for years to save up for retirement. We've been trying to figure out when and how to start using them.
     
  11. hurnik

    hurnik TUG Member

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    This is how I do it:

    I was looking for (2) First Class round-trip tickets (actually one-way as the case may be, I'll explain later) from:
    ALB -> OGG
    and returning:
    HNL -> ALB

    Hence the one-way (plus AA always prices them out as one-way anyway, so it's not like Delta).

    At the time, the dates I was looking at, was about $2100 per person for a round trip FC ticket. Coach was about $1250 each.
    I *could* have gotten MileSaaver on the ONE flight, but since AA only has one seat in First on Alaska, it would've required that I take an ALB -> ORD -> SEA -> OGG and my partner would've had to take: ALB -> PHL -> SEA -> OGG (so we'd hook up in SEA). ASSUMING everything went well. We didn't want to do that, so the 40k outbound seats we used the Aanytime at 57.5k each way.

    57.5k x 4 = 230,000 AA miles.

    So let's see, $4200 (if I paid cash) for 230,000 points. that puts a $/point price at:
    $0.018/point (almost $0.02 /point).

    That's about the "average" if you look at: thepointsguy.com

    You can "maximize" your point value by say, doing Milesaaver awards (if you can find them). I believe for the particular flight, AA did have plenty of Economy milesaaver awards (but I had zero interest in sitting on a plan that long in economy). Obviously that would've been a better price/point ratio.

    Wow, I wish I had that many AA miles.
    I'd be redeeming (even though it's VERY difficult) for First/Business to say, Australia, or Maldives or exotic/expensive places like that.

    But that's me
     
  12. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    I break this entire topic into two sections - 1) the value of my miles, and 2) credit cards that use mileage rewards vs. cash back cards.

    For the value of the miles, I actually make this as easy as possible, following a number of points websites out there, with a simple math equation:

    (Cash price - taxes and fees) / number of miles redeemed

    Using this year's [economy] tickets in the above equation:

    ($3,800 - $100) / 420,000 = $0.008/mile

    For my flights, this is what I was looking at:

    Economy: ($3,800)
    MileSAAver: Between 135k miles ($0.027/mile) and 187k miles ($0.019/mile), but only 1 or 2 travel days per 3 months availability
    AAnytime: Between 300k miles ($0.012/mile) and 420k miles ($0.008/mile)

    Using the equation above, the low end of AAnytime award travel would have made my miles worth $0.012/each, with MileSAAver coming in between $0.027 and $0.019 each. All being better "bang for your buck" redemptions.

    First: ($7,987)
    MileSAAver: 320k miles ($0.024/mile), but only 1 or 2 travel days per 3 months availability
    AAnytime: Between 540k miles ($0.014) and 645k miles ($0.012)

    As you can see, MileSAAver awards give you a much better return. I'm basically getting the worst return for my miles, unless MileSAAver awards [in either class] open up between now and my flight, and I call AA to have this changed.

    With regards to miles/cash back, let me preface this by saying that a very large part of my AA mileage accumulation is done via Citi AAdvantage Platinum card churning, where I earn large bonuses for meeting a minimum spend in a specific amount of time.

    I'm averaging four Citi AA Platinum cards per year, so let's call it 240k miles on $12k spend (assuming I'm averaging 60k bonus miles per card), and then 23k miles/year based on an additional spend of $23k. In total, that's 263k miles/year on $35k spend. I'd be comfortable simply using miles to upgrade to first for these flights, as well, but since I have no status with AA, and because the Hawai'i routes are full, there never seems to be any award upgrade availability, let alone for a party of 3.

    Conversely, I'd see the following in terms of cash back redemption using the same annual spend as above:

    Citi Double Cash: $700
    Chase Freedom Unlimited: $525 + $150
    Chase Sapphire Preferred: $525, or $656 when redeeming via the UR Travel Portal


    So, given that I'm effectively saving either $3,800 (economy) or $7,900 (first) every time we fly to Hawai'i, using miles just makes much more sense. Granted, if you're relying on normal spend, this is probably not the way to go.

    Spoilered below is an estimate of my mileage accumulation over time, where it appears as though I'll be able to fly using miles for the foreseeable future. Each month adds 1900 miles, with an additional 60k miles quarterly from a new card bonus.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    We been saving them up for when we retire and are no longer earning business travel miles. When the mileage accumulation stops in the next year or two, that 1.3 million will dissipate rather quickly, especially if we have to use AAnytime Awards to get reasonable flight times with free seats. We've never been willing to book those two or more connection itineraries to get the lower point requirements (and even those aren't available frequently). We live in Charlotte, which is a big AA hub, so we can go almost anywhere either nonstop or with one connection - but those flights seem to rarely have MileSAAver awards.
     
  14. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    So, you are basing your analysis on the relative value of earning your miles primarily through maximizing credit card usage, so you theoretically never run out of points. We really don't try to play the card games, although we take the miles they give us for our regular card usage. My wife has the Citi AA card and I have the old USAirwyas card that transitioned to the AAdvantage Aviator. But our miles will stop accumulating rapidly when (mainly my wife's) business travel stops.

    When you say you are averaging four Citi AA cards per year, what do you mean? Are you canceling one card after you earn the bonus and applying for a new one? If that is what it is, I'm surprised they allow that.
     
  15. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    Correct. I have my main Citi AA Platinum card that I intend on keeping forever, but apply for 4 others throughout the year, every year.

    1. Apply for Citi AA card
    2. Meet minimum spend (usually $3k)
    3. Close card
    4. Repeat
    Citi does have a restriction where you can only receive the bonus on one card every 24 months, but that restriction does not apply to targeted mailers that omit the language in the terms, making it easy to churn this card. I believe I went through 7 cards in one year a few years ago, though that was under special circumstances.

    It's definitely not for everyone, but with the end result being a ridiculous amount of miles, I'm game.
     
  16. hurnik

    hurnik TUG Member

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    Might want to mosey over to the Flyertalk forums in the credit card section.

    Citi now has a 2-year ban on "like" cards.

    It's a little complicated, but no longer the open card, meet min. spend and close card. You used to be able to open multiple Citi AA cards every 24 months and get the bonus. No longer. It's a 24 month clock starting when you open AND close the card. So if you had a Personal Citi AA card, and closed it today, you'd have to wait 2 more years before you could get ANY other Citi Personal card and get the AA bonus.
     
  17. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    I'm over on FlyerTalk, as well. That open/close rule, along with the change from 18 to 24 months, has been around for a while now. Targeted mailers still bypass everything, which I can confirm (on card #5 for this calendar year myself).
     
  18. hurnik

    hurnik TUG Member

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    Thanks, good to know that if you get a targetted mailer, it bypasses that. I was under the impression it was like the Chase 5/24 rule or the new Chase CSP/CS rule.
     
  19. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    Yep, so long as that 24-month verbiage isn't in the terms of the mailer (which has an invitation code on it), you should be good to go for the bonus.
     
  20. LisaRex

    LisaRex TUG Member

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    Another option to consider is breaking up the flight so that you fly into a major US city, then on to Hawaii from there. You can save a lot of money doing it this way, although it certainly adds time and hassle. For instance, from Cincinnati, I usually have no issue using points to get to LAS, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle or Salt Lake City. From these cities, you'll find more (and considerably cheaper) options for getting to Hawaii, including Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines.

    Note that this method works best if you stay overnight in the layover city because it'll give you a buffer should your flight be delayed (or worse, canceled!). You'll also need time to retrieve your checked bag and go back through TSA. Western cities also enjoy airfare sales that the Midwest and East Coast never see.
     
  21. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    We did the overnight thing last year, and absolutely hated it (made the time difference much worse). Never again will I go that route.
     
  22. artringwald

    artringwald TUG Member

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    We stay overnight on a west coast city every year in both directions and love it. We stay at airport hotels with a shuttles, get a good nights sleep, and arrive in Hawaii, refreshed and ready to go, early in the afternoon. On the way back we get an early afternoon flight and we're not homeless. Since we're leaving the airport anyway, it allows us to book all the flight segments separately, without worry about luggage transfers. Next winter the best deal was to go MSP -> SEA -> LIH on the way over and OGG -> SFO -> MSP on the way back on Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian, and Sun Country. It saved a couple hundred over other combinations.
     
  23. NTP66

    NTP66 TUG Member

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    This doesn't matter so much, now that I've decided on a path for flying to Maui via AA miles, but I still track the price of tickets twice daily in an Excel spreadsheet, which I have been doing for a number of years now. I thought it was interesting how much the price fluctuates for a June trip as opposed to our old September trips:

    September visit, 3 people, AA coach, tracked from 1/16-4/16
    Low: $2879 in late March
    High: $3542 in early January
    [​IMG]


    June visit, 3 people, AA coach, tracked from 8/17-present
    Low: $3446 in early December (today, in fact)
    High: $3842 in early September
    [​IMG]

    My other September trips look very similar to the first chart. Like I said, lots of variables, but I thought this was interesting nonetheless.
     
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