American Airlines will now charge you for two separate awards if you want to use Hawaiian Airlines as part of your travels to destinations beyond Hawaii.
The best example of this is New Zealand, a place without a ton of ways to get to using AAdvantage miles. As View From The Wing notes here, an award from the US to New Zealand that uses Hawaiian Airlines would now be broken up into two awards.
In the example of a coach ticket, it’s 22,500 miles to get from the US to Hawaii. However, American charges 37,500 AAdvantage miles to get from the contiguous US (or Hawaii) to New Zealand.
Under the new policy, you would have to redeem both awards listed above for a total of 60,000 miles instead of 37,500.
Gary notes that it’s an extra 75,000 miles for a round-trip business class ticket. That’s a big fat ouch!
Specifically, this change affects me not at all. I live near Washington, DC and have shunned the 10-hour flight to Hawaii for quite some time in favor of Caribbean destinations or even a trip to Europe. So, I’m not planning to redeem miles to connect in Hawaii to get to Asia or the South Pacific. But, this was a viable option for folks on the west coast. And, I’m always a fan of people having more ways to use their miles.
What concerns me most here is the new philosophy by American that all partner awards are not created equal (and also not equal to flights operated by American Airlines).
Less than 2 years ago, United decided that you needed to pay them much more for the privilege of flying their alliance partners in certain situations. A round-trip business class ticket on Lufthansa that used to cost 100,000 miles was raised to 140,000 (while UA flights increased to 115,000). So, you now pay 20%+ more to fly that route on an alliance partner.
When the airlines announced the alliances, they touted how flying amongst partners would be seamless. Slowly, those partnerships have become less seamless than when they were first introduced.
American Airlines already imposes fuel surcharges on some partner awards, though they charge fewer miles for those awards than United Airlines does. Hawaiian Airlines isn’t a member of oneworld, so it’s possible this is only narrowly related to a change in how Hawaiian sells seats to AAdvantage. I fully expect that American Airlines will start charging more for some awards once they’re past the merger. If the plan is to also segment partner/alliance awards in some fashion, that could be painful.
There’s no good news from this announcement. Ultimately, I don’t think this singular change will affect that many people searching for awards with their AAdvantage miles. But, it will certainly lead to some hand wringing about other potential changes, at least for me.