Travel Blog + Dining Blog + Frequent Flyer Tips Blog

Justin Does…Hawaii, Tokyo, and Hong Kong

While I’ve taken a short break from the blog, I’ve not taken a short break from traveling and planning trips (for the record, I DO plan on posting about my round-the-world trip). I’ve returned to the blog to share an upcoming trip as well as get some tips on what to do, should you happen to have already been where I’m going.

What I learned planning my RTW trip was that award tickets can be fun. Especially when you can make changes for free (thanks to my Executive Platinum status with AA). With my trip right around the corner, I’m pretty sure I’m done tinkering with my tickets and routing. Here’s what it looks like:


Here’s what my upcoming trip looks like!

Austin to Hawaii

Early in my trip planning process ELEVEN MONTHS AGO, I stumbled across very decent airfare on American Airlines from Austin (AUS) to LAX to Kona (KOA), so I put the tickets on a free 24-hour hold. I had several Systemwide Upgrades to use so I called AA and asked if there was availability to use them on these flights. Yes was the answer, so I ticketed the itinerary and the first class upgrades were instantly confirmed. Score! [Side note for you #AvGeeks: When ticketed, the LAX-KOA flight was on a 757-200 and the aircraft was recently subbed to a brand new A321.]

We’ll be in Kona for three nights and then will head over to Maui for the 2015 Maui Invitational college basketball tournament (no, I’m not playing this year). Hawaiian Airlines had several flights from KOA to OGG. I found a convenient time and fare and booked that (on a 717-200, an aircraft that is not common in myFlightMemory).

Hawaii to Tokyo

Here’s where things get interesting. In an attempt to fly new airlines (to me), I did my research to see how to get from Hawaii to Tokyo. Lo and behold, I found the *perfect* flight: Japan Airlines from Honolulu to Tokyo/Narita (NRT) on a 767 in business class. SCORE. When I called AA to ticket, I asked if they could add on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from OGG to NHL and they did.

I spent $5.60 in taxes and burned 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles for the Maui to Honolulu to Tokyo/Narita one-way portion of the trip per person. Because I wanted to see the value of this award ticket, I searched to see how much these exact flights would have cost. Keep in mind that I did this search the same day I booked with miles. Prices vary, but this was the going rate for these flights on these dates. The cost for my exact flights was priced at almost $3,250. Overall, I think I got an excellent value for my AAdvantage miles and the flights worked perfect with my schedule.

Tokyo to Hong Kong to Austin

Here’s where things got really interesting. When I called AA to see what options I had using AAdvantage miles, the AAgent offered me Tokyo/Narita to Hong Kong to Los Angeles, all in business class. I immediately booked it (more on that later). I had read a post on One Mile at a Time about how to search Cathay Pacific award availability, I found a flight from Tokyo/Haneda airport to Hong Kong in business class, on a 747-400. Um, yes please. So I called back, AA and sure enough, they confirmed the space. The agent then offered if I wanted to go back to Austin there was availability on US Airways from LAX to Phoenix to AUS. I agreed to book it and hoped for availability on the non-stop flight to open later (it never did).

SIDE NOTE: Apparently routing Tokyo to Hong Kong to Los Angeles is against AA’s award routing rules. I confess, I didn’t realize this when I booked the tickets but the agent processed the award. (Double side note, when an award ticket is booked, it goes through a review process where a second agent verifies the ticket before booking it. Therefore, this ‘illegal’ routing passed by multiple people.) Third side note: Imagine my surprise when my reservation was showing ‘invalid‘ online and I called AA only to be told the ticket was not valid. Long story short, AA decided to honor the ticket. Woop woop!

In the end, I spent $88.60 in taxes and burned 55,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles for the Tokyo/Haneda – Hong Kong (22 hours in HKG, by the way) to Los Angeles to Austin one-way portion of the trip per person. While I didn’t look at the cost of these tickets when I booked the award, I think I got an excellent value for my AAdvantage miles and the flights worked perfect with my schedule.

What do you think of my itinerary? Have you flown these airlines/routes? What would you have done differently?

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