American Airlines Extends Charlotte To Honolulu Flight

Filed Under: American

In December 2020, American Airlines announced it would launch a seasonal Charlotte to Honolulu route, which would be the carrier’s longest route to Hawaii. Initially this route was supposed to operate for just a few months over the summer, but it has now been extended through early 2022.

This is a great option for anyone looking to travel from the East Coast to Hawaii.

American Airlines’ Charlotte to Hawaii flight

Between May 6, 2021, and January 3, 2022, American Airlines will operate a daily flight between Charlotte and Honolulu. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

AA569 Charlotte to Honolulu departing 11:40AM arriving 4:04PM
AA552 Honolulu to Charlotte departing 5:01PM arriving 8:20AM (+1 day)

American’s new Charlotte to Honolulu route

American will use a Boeing 777-200ER for the route, featuring 273 seats, including 37 fully flat business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 212 economy seats. I would hope that American will be swapping 777s between routes in Honolulu, because 57 minutes sure is tight to turn a 777.

The ~4,700 mile flight is blocked at 10hr24min westbound and 9hr19min eastbound.

One of American’s 777-200ER business class seats

How this complements other Hawaii service

While this will be American’s longest flight to Hawaii, it will be one of only five routes, as American also flies to Honolulu out of Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

I’m not surprised to see this route extended beyond the summer. Ultimately American doesn’t have very many places to fly its wide body aircraft this fall — it’s not like Australia or most of Asia will open to visitors, and I can’t imagine transatlantic business travel will rebound all that much in the fall and winter. What will be more telling of the performance of the route is if it’s extended further into 2022.

As far as the overall service between Honolulu and the east(ish) coast goes, this will be the seventh route:

  • Delta Air Lines will fly from Honolulu to Atlanta
  • Hawaiian Airlines will fly from Honolulu to Boston, New York JFK, and Orlando
  • United Airlines will fly from Honolulu to Newark and Washington Dulles

Hawaiian Airlines operates three routes to the east coast

Bottom line

Airlines have an incredible number of spare planes, in particular wide bodies, given international travel restrictions. We’ve seen American cut all kinds of long haul international flights, and at the same time find other ways to redeploy the planes, ranging from transcon flights to Hawaii flights.

This is a cool addition for the local Charlotte market, as well as for anyone originating on the east coast who wants to connect for the longest nonstop flight. Then again, there aren’t that many places that can be connected one-stop through Charlotte but not through Chicago or Dallas.

What do you make of American’s Charlotte to Honolulu flight?

  1. Does anyone fly Miami to Hawaii nonstop? Seems like it would be a good route considering Caribbean/South America connections.

  2. My home airport is CLT, although I am near PIE for the holidays, this is an interesting addition. I can only assume that the primary reason for the addition is that CLT is AA #2 connecting hub behind DFW. While the greater Charlotte area is a large market, I can’t see demand to Hawaii even marginally supporting a direct flight. Most people wouldn’t mind visiting Hawaii but our weather isn’t bad enough for snow birds and Florida is less than 2 hours by plan or a day’s drive by car. **Mandatory flight content – I just flew Saturday from CLT to TPA via AA First Class on a A321. There were 6 people in First and we all were spread out. Kept mask on whole time. No problem. I work out at the gym with a mask on so sitting in a chair for 1 hour 45 minutes is no big deal. $228 One Way First. Basically no premium over economy considering 2 checked bags. **

  3. USAirways did in fact operate this same route , using a 767 that often would need to stop for fuel in LAX before heading onward. As for the time, it was winding down about the same time as the volcano erupted in Iceland shutting down Atlantic air travel,whatever year that was. I flew it and headwinds were light so we avoided to fuel stop

  4. That eastbound schedule is horrendous. Terrible timing for sleep, flight will be more than halfway over before Hawaii-time body clocks will be ready for sleep. And that early of a departure time basically means no beach time on the last day.

    Needs to depart at least 3 hours later, IMO.

  5. This is an interesting route. Even though Charlotte is a major American hub, only about 40% of the traffic is local traffic. A huge % is connecting. The local market won’t be able to support this so depending on economic recovery nationwide will determine whether this becomes year round.

  6. Dan, I wonder if they are mapping out some sort of a code share freight plan. With all the issues around flight crews having to isolate in a specific hotel under guard, AA may be doing some sort of OneWorld handoff in Hawai’I and then hauling back to CLT from there,with no crew tied up for days

  7. Jim, interesting idea, but most freight would probably transit in Anchorage. First its on the great circle route, and second it has been a freight hub for decades.

  8. When do you think this will be loaded? I have a HNL trip to book and would much prefer to be on this aircraft.

  9. I’m confused. Based on the schedule you posted, you’ve got it blocked at 9 hours westbound and 10 hours eastbound.

  10. I agree with others. The flight times suck. If you’re not going to do a quick turn and fly the same aircraft back, make the Honolulu-Charlotte flight 6:30 or 7 p.m. 3-something p.m. is just nuts.

  11. BTW. My last comment is as someone who did about 15 trips to Hawaii in 2018 for business, including two or three times turning around upon landing on the mainland and going right back.

    I always, always took the last flight of the night to Los Angeles or Seattle and then connected onward because it allowed me to have a nice dinner in Honolulu and then drink 3-4 glasses of wine at the Sky Club in HNL. I was normally asleep, even in a 737-900 or 757 with domestic first-class seats, before takeoff or shortly thereafter.

    All of the Delta lie-flat flights (at the time, ATL and MSP) left too early for anyone doing business or anyone who needed to sleep.

    After doing it so much I can see why Hawaii has zero Fortune 500 companies. It’s basically impossible to do any kind of business there between (1) the flight distance and (2) time zone difference. There is probably more business between Hawaii, the Pacific islands and Asia than Hawaii and the East Coast. I had to get 3 a.m. wake-up calls and work until about 10 a.m. Hawaii time. It was brutal.

  12. No, @Fcflyer, it’s 10 hours west-bound and 9 hours eastbound. Remember, it’s summer and Hawai’i doesn’t have daylight saving so the Hawai’i-East Coast time difference is six hours not the five it is now.

  13. WOW Clearly there are lots of people in route planning that need to substantiate their jobs- will this route really get off the ground

  14. Not specific to this flight, but I am quite curious how US travel patterns shift to US territories with established vacation and tourism industries like the USVI and Puerto Rico.

    This really begs the question on why the US has such a huge tourism industry dependent on Hawaii and Florida, when we’ve got undersupported territories like PR, USVI, Guam, and American Samoa which could do well with tourism from their territorial overlords.

    Why do we see US tourism propping up military juntas, dictatorships and autocracies in the likes of the Maldives and Thailand, while entirely neglecting US Territories?

  15. Basic answer: I don’t see any sense in this. Who is going to take it? I guess local CLT traffic. Maybe a few people connecting in from nearby outstations (RIC, ORF?). But who else? Realistically, I can’t imagine anyone from the northeast connecting through CLT when they can more directly get to Hawaii via ORD, DFW or LAX (not to mention so many other gateways on other airlines). And it’s a 777 no less! How in the world are you going to get enough pax on the plane to pay for each flight?


  16. I really don’t see why people think these flight times are so horrible. You have to be out of your accommodations by Noon usually so a 3:30 PM departure is fine. Arriving on the East Coast early in the morning is fine as a gives me a full day to recuperate before heading to back to work.

  17. As previously noted, US flew this route years ago. At the time I was working for EN and my buddy since 3rd Grade took his new wife on that flight to HNL for their honeymoon thanks to a couple of buddy passes. The Observer made a big to do about it because at the time it was the longest direct flight out of CLT.

    The long-term strategic goal of Douglas leadership has been to get a direct flight to Asia. Unfortunately, the failure of this route the last time has been a big barrier to getting that crown jewel.

  18. Ben, any idea what the inflight service will be? A turkey sandwich/cheese plate? Old domestic first class equivalent? Intl business class?

  19. The fuel inefficiency of the 777-200ER will kill the economics of the flight. Every other flight from the eastern U.S. to Hawaii operates on much more fuel efficient aircraft.

  20. When US briefly operated the route, fuel prices were high and they were using a 767-200ER. CLT is an even larger hub now than it was 10+ years ago. Right now, airlines are struggling to place wide body jets into service given the outlook for long haul international travel which most probably won’t rebound much until well into 2022.

    This route should do alright given the demand for flights to Hawaii at the moment but I can see the frequency being reduced substantially after its original timetable of service runs out.

  21. @Tim Dunn, not really accurate or true. UA flies IAD and EWR to HNL with the 767-300ER, DL uses the A330-300 from ATL to HNL, and HA uses A330-200s. The 777 is just fine for this route. The bigger issue will be if AA can fill it consistently out of CLT even with all the connections.

  22. @ Tim Dunn — I’m sorry, but you crammed an incredible amount of incorrect information into a short comment.

    First of all, fuel is cheap right now, so trying routes like this is less costly than in the past. The difference of relative fuel efficiency isn’t what’s making or breaking routes right now.

    Second of all, the airline is paying for these planes either way, so they have to fly somewhere. So you wouldn’t compare to the “economics of the flight” to other airlines flying to the east coast, but rather should compare it to other places that American could fly 777s, since that’s the opportunity cost of this route.

    Third of all, I don’t know where you get the information that every other flight to the US East Coast is on a more fuel efficient aircraft. Exactly the opposite is true. Hawaiian flies A330s and United generally flies 767s, and both of those planes have higher average per-seat operating costs than the 777 that American flies.

  23. I live in HNL and am booked on this flight round trip, connecting to JFK next month. Will be interesting to see what kind of Inflight service AA provides in First Class on this flight. I’m hoping it’s something superior to a regular domestic flight given the length of the flight to/from CLT.

  24. Ben,
    I’m sorry but airlines report fuel burn by aircraft type to the DOT and the 777-200ER is the LEAST fuel efficient widebody on a per seat basis used by any U.S. airline including compared to any version of the 767 that DL or UA uses.
    HA’s A330-200s seat MORE passengers than AA’s 777-200ERs according to seatguru and burn 25% less fuel than the 777-200ER. The A330-300 has an greater fuel advantage.
    And it is precisely because AA has so many widebodies to fly that they are operating flights that are at best marginally profitable.
    Using the least fuel efficient aircraft on a leisure route that is longer than to Europe is not going to last whether it is intended to be because AA has airplane sitting around

  25. CLT-HNL is likely to complement DFW-HNL for its connectivity. ORD-HNL leaves at 8:40am, too early for the East Coast feed; CLT could capture that in order to free up DFW-HNL for other regions. Something I don’t have insight into – would this also help with 777 rotation given the limited 777 flights they operate there?

  26. @Tim Dunn,
    There are more factors that enter into the economics of operating a particular flight than the overall fuel efficiency per seat-mile statistics that are reported to the DOT. Lots of variables factor into published statistics. And those factors won’t always apply to every mission a particular aircraft flies. That’s why airlines either have more than one aircraft type, or are willing to sacrifice fuel efficiency for cost savings in other areas, such as fleet commonality and the crew costs that come with mixed fleets (Soutwest’s 737-7MAX order is a case in point). A particular aircraft’s performance, its potential revenue-generating capability, its costs of ownership, etc. all factor into the equation when it comes to offering flights. The 777-200ER’s fuel burn economics may be competitive relative to many other aircraft at 4,065 nm. Given American’s debt, I doubt it will order another batch of 787-9s to finish replacing its 777-200ERs in the near future. All of these issues are important, and broad-brush statistics don’t always paint an accurate picture in a given situation. I’m guessing the route planners have a far better handle on all of these factors than we do.

  27. Radio,
    I will not belabor the point but my first comment was regarding at least a couple people above me that questioned how long the flight would last.
    As noted, the flight might be operating because AA has no other place to use the aircraft – but they are using their least fuel efficient airplane on a new route that is also their longest flight to Hawaii.
    According to AA’s own data, their 777-200ER will burn about 3000 gallons more fuel each way than DL’s 333 for a flight of nearly identical length (ATL/CLT to HNL).
    it is also worth noting that AA’s reported fuel burn for its 787-8 is within a couple percent of what DL and UA report for their 767-300ERs… AA uses the 787-8 from ORD and touted it as a replacement for 767s on a number of international routes but it isn’t more fuel efficient. DL and UA are obviously holding onto their 767-300s as long as possible because there is no widebody that burns less fuel.
    The fact that AA still has about 4 dozen 777-200ERs shows part of why AA doesn’t have a systemwide fuel cost advantage despite spending much more on new aircraft than AA and UA. UA, of course has even more 777-200/200ERs than AA.
    In addition, AA’s system unit costs are the highest in the industry.
    On a route-specific level, no airline can compete when they have costs above their competitors.

    Those realities should provide insight into how long CLT-HNL lasts – unless AA decides to start cutting costs to make it cost competitive.

  28. @radio
    Tim is now banned from two other airline sites for this type of misinformation and fake facts presented as the fifth gospel. He’s best ignored. He’s never met a lie he doesn’t love.

  29. I am booked on this flight in June. The times reported are off. AA552 depart HNL at 6:10 p.m. and arrives CLT at 9:10 a.m.

  30. Julie,
    aircraft fuel burn is not secret nor is it even available only from the DOT.
    A simple google search will yield results which validate exactly what I posted.
    Fifth gospel? No. Facts, yes.

  31. @Julie,
    I’m quite aware of Tim’s situation. In fairness to him, he often makes very good points. I’ve observed that Tim is a bit of a zealous Delta fanboy (who may have worked for the airline in the past) who thinks his favorite airline can do no wrong, and American can do nothing right. That’s about what it boils down to. He’s not alone. There are lots of aviation geeks like that. By virtually all measures, Delta is a very well-run airline, but that doesn’t make it perfect. No company is. I’ve also observed that Tim has a tendency, which is becoming more and more common nowadays, to conflate fact and opinion. To that point, the DOT numbers are factual – as far as they go – but taken out of context, don’t always paint a complete or accurate picture. A case in point regarding fuel burn: Southwest recently ordered 100 737-MAX7s, when the “conventional” fuel burn wisdom “mandated” that it order the A220, a fanboy favorite (and apparently a great aircraft). Southwest opted for fleet simplicity over fuel burn. That tells you that there are factors other than fuel burn that affect airlines’ decisions.

  32. Fuel burn data is easily obtainable on a generalized basis. DOT fuel burn data is specific to each airline and also provides enough data to calculate based on how each airline uses its fleets. AA’s use of the 777-200ER on CLT-HNL is pretty close to the average stage length for that aircraft – if not slightly longer.

    If the 777-200ER was a competitive aircraft, Boeing would still be selling it. Instead, they are selling 787s. American itself just today announced that it is converting some 787-8 orders to 787-9s. There are very few 787-8 orders outstanding, just as there are very few A330-800 orders; larger, new generation aircraft are most fuel and labor efficient but have higher ownership costs. AAL’s 777-200s might have lower ownership costs (they might not too) but it is absolutely a legitimate question as to why AA put is least fuel efficient aircraft on a new route that is also the longest AA will operate to Hawaii. I don’t believe AA uses its 787s out of CLT which raises the question of why AA can’t figure out how to get its assets into the places where they can generate the best returns. On a per seat basis, both the A330s and 767s that American retired had lower total operating costs.

    Longer flights generate the greatest opportunity for fuel efficiency and lower costs.

    I understand that not every older aircraft can be disposed of as soon as it is surpassed by something that is more efficient but S. America with its double overnight flights is the best use of 777-200ERs.

    Again, I’m not sure how a comment about AA’s choice of aircraft for this flight turned into a parsing of my online participation when it is clear that the facts I presented are accurate and they will ultimately have to be addressed or AA will be much less profitable to Hawaii than its peers – at least on that flight – if at all. Again, the fuel burn I cited was submitted to the DOT by American Airlines. And, AA still has the highest unit costs in the industry so they automatically are going to be working from a much more difficult place in making leisure flights like this work.

  33. @Tim,
    As usual, you raise some good points. But I don’t see American establishing a crew base at Charlotte just to service one 787 flight to Honolulu. And as the 8K suggested, American’s 777s aren’t going anywhere, so it’s pretty much stuck with them for a while. Since the flight in question is being extended, it must be performing reasonably well, in spite of American’s higher unit costs. American retired its A330s. If their performance and other costs were as superior to the 777 as you allege (the A330-200s were relatively new), why did American retire them? Fleet simplification. That concept seems to work pretty well for Southwest, which ordered 737s instead of A220s in spite of the 737s higher fuel consumption. To reiterate my original point, there are factors other than fuel burn that contribute to airline decisions. Today’s 8K also noted, “Excluding approximately $8 million per day of regular debt principal and cash severance payments made, the Company’s (American’s) cash burn rate turned positive in March.” I know, it’s not 100% cash flow positive, and $8 million per day is $8 million per day ($240 million per month), but given American’s debt levels, it’s a step in the right direction. If this was 2008, how many U.S. carriers would have filed for Chapter 11 by now? I’m guessing all of them. Of course, there’s no way to know. But none have filed for Chapter 11 thus far. That’s a sign of how much healthier the entire industry is in spite of high debt levels, stock buybacks, and dividends. I hope Delta’s earnings report this week is positive. That’s good for the entire industry.

  34. It’s been a pleasure to chat w/ you, Radio.

    The industry is indeed recovering, Delta kicks off the earnings season, and AAL’s cash burn update on top of what DAL and UAL shared is very encouraging, esp. since the longhaul international market still needs to reopen – and when it does all of the big 3 will get a boost in revenue bigger than other carriers.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed that AA is able to make the CLT-HNL flight work and to narrow its forecast losses which it also put it in its updated guidance.

    If AA’s desire is to make CLT a competitive international/longhaul gateway, then it would seem that using more fuel efficient aircraft would be a big win. The 777-200ER does best to/from S. America esp. from MIA where the plane sits for long periods as any aircraft would flying those routes and the 777-200ER has abundant cargo capabilities.

    all the best.

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