Taking AAdvantage of American Airlines Off-Peak Awards

As I’ve mentioned, this winter we’ll be taking a family vacation back to Kauai where my husband and I last visited in 2008. We truly fell in love with the island, the pace of life, and the Grand Hyatt. By all accounts, things today are roughly the same so we are very much looking forward to our return. And as luck (or persistence) would have it, we’ve also managed to get a few additional family members to travel with us. None of them had any (and when I say any, I mean they had 0) frequent flyer miles to their names. Fortunately, they were able to take advantage of the Chase United Airlines credit card sign up for 55,000 miles. To receive this offer, you need to have at least 1 mile in your United Mileage Plus account, which they didn’t have at the time. I transferred 1,000 Ultimate Rewards from our account into each of their accounts and within seconds, the offer of 50,000 miles upon first use of the card and 5,000 for adding an authorized user appeared. They each applied and used 40,000 miles for a round trip ticket from New York to Kauai. The annual fee for this card is waived for the first year, so this ticket to Kauai literally cost them the $10 of taxes and fees. Pretty good, if you ask me!

We also have other family members that are considering joining us in Hawaii. They have done a great job of making the most of these travel credit card sign ups and have travelled extensively over the past year + on miles/hotel points they got from their credit cards. They have a limited travel window due to school commitments and they are also torn on where to go during their limited time off. In trying to decide between joining us in Hawaii and going to Japan, I was able to come up with a pretty good alternative allowing them to do both using American Airlines miles.

AA has excellent off-peak rates to Hawaii, South America, Europe and Japan/Korea/Mongolia. I have written about how my family has taken advantage of the off-peak rates to Europe, but in their case, I managed to put together an itinerary to Japan for only 25,000 mile each way, including stops in Hawaii and a free one way to visit family in Seattle. Unfortunately, AA does not have off-peak dates for business or first class so keep that in mind when considering an extensive itinerary, but with stops breaking up the trip, it just might be worth it!

The off-peak dates for travel from the US to Japan are October 1 – April 30. Our family trip to Kauai falls within that range. So, I used this information to piece together an itinerary for them as outlined below:

Wednesday PM: Boston (BOS) – Los Angeles (LAX – overnight) – AA Flight

Thursday AM: LAX – Honolulu (HNL – stopover) – AA Flight

Thursday PM: HNL – Kauai (LIH – purchased ticket) – Hawaiian Airlines/Mesa Air Flight

Monday AM: LIH – HNL (purchase ticket) – Hawaiian Airlines/Mesa Air Flight

Monday PM: HNL – Osaka, Japan – Japan Airlines Flight

The return will look something like this:

Following Monday AM: Tokyo – BOS – Japan Airlines Flight

A date in the future: BOS – Seattle (SEA) – Alaska Air Flight

 This entire itinerary will cost them 50,000 American Airlines miles, applicable taxes/fees, and $150 for the roundtrip ticket from Honolulu to Kauai. To put this in perspective, a round trip from Boston to Kauai on American Airlines is 35,000 miles. A roundtrip from New York to Kauai on United (as family did above) is 40,000. They are getting a trip to Hawaii, Japan, and a one way to Seattle for 50,000 miles. This a great example of how to make the most of AA’s off-peak awards. Also, while AA’s off-peak and one way awards and stopover policy are great weapons in the arsenal of those who like to travel for free, other airlines also have perks which I’ll also explore at a later date. As always, let me know if I can help making the most of your miles.

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