American Airlines Brings Passengers to Hawaii That It Has No Intention of Flying Home (But That’ll Change Next Year)

At an employee Crew News session this past week a pilot asked American Airlines President about weight restrictions flying Hawaii back to the mainland of the U.S. using Airbus A321 aircraft. American cannot fly as many people back to the mainland as they fly from the mainland to Hawaii.

From my understanding we leave people in Hawaii every day because the Airbus can’t make it back to Phoenix with a full load, is that our plan to take people somewhere where we can’t bring them all back?

Robert Isom says “many days I wouldn’t mind being left in Hawaii” but that “it’s one of the reason we keep the [Boeing 757s].”

He goes on to explain that they’re going to keep some 757s in the fleet for five or more years, “We have isolated that fleet of 757s that we think are going to be the ones we can hold onto for the next 5-plus years. We’re going to work those and continue to keep those in the fleet for as long as we can.”

Next year American Airlines will take delivery of Airbus A321neos, and those will go to Phoenix because the current A321CO (classic) would be even more restricted flying Hawaii – Phoenix than it is flying Hawaii – Los Angeles. But the A321neo should be able to fly Hawaii – Phoenix without difficulty.

Management explains further,

American currently takes weight restrictions from Lihue – Los Angeles and on some days Maui – Los Angeles. But the A321neo will have full payload capability out of all Hawaii markets except for Lihue which may take a slight weight restriction.


However the Airbus A321neo doesn’t carry as many passengers as the Boeing 757 it replaces. Thirty-plus A312neos out of the 100 on order will be certified for ETOPs (the ability to fly long distances over water with two engines – Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, or ‘Engines Turn or Passengers Swim’.

There may be fewer American Airlines seats between the mainland and Hawaii when Boeing 757s are replaced by Airbus A321neos, but the airline could add flights as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, not to worry, we will raise prices to whatever level it takes to put the maximum number of butts in the available seats.

  2. There truly is no 752 replacement … as much as A/B want the neo/max to be. That thing is an absolute rocket ship.

  3. This is puzzling to me. All the other weight-restricted routes I am familiar with are westbound, due to prevailing winds in the northern hemisphere. What is different here?

  4. Ridiculous. Nobody is being stranded. Capacity (aka supply) depends on demand and prices. Nobody is being stranded. Some people take one ways, continue oneard to other destinations, or another carrier on the return leg. Stop perpetuating stupidity.

  5. Those crappy 757’s from Hawaii-PHX are one of the main reasons why I’ve abandoned AA and my ExPLAT status. Ridiculous aircraft from the 70’s with all cabins sucking the misery up,.

    I have no doubt that AA will screw over Hawaii travelers at every opportunity. Only once have I had the better Transpacific aircraft from HNL-DFW. Phoenix flights are misery personified. Screw AA.

  6. The issue is people moving their lives utilizing the cargo space. Even with high bag fees its still faster and cheaper than moving by seavan. I should know, I maxed out my X4 70 pound free military bags all the time.

  7. Just travelled back from Kauai yesterday on AA and can confirm the flight was weight restricted. It took an hour to remove 8 passengers. Old salty flight attendant threatening to remove people based on fare class if people didn’t take the $500 compensation.

  8. WR is flat out wrong. As Mike said and I can also confirm, passengers are routinely bumped due to this restriction. I was called last week, a day ahead of my HNL-LAX flight, and asked to move to a later flight for compensation. It was not the first time I witnessed that either. So I believe Gary is spot-on in using a title appropriately representing what is occuring.

  9. $500 won’t pay for a good hotel night and dinner.

    What happened to the clearing price ‘auction’?

    More ‘listen to what we say, don’t look at what we do’ from AA?

  10. The 757 was a great airplane before its time, Boeing stopped it when they thought the 73Max would do that role it played. However Airbus is killing Boeing in this market now. Boeing should build a new aircraft modern design to fit role.

  11. Here you go again, confusing American Airlines with a transportation company. They are not a transportation company they are a sales and marketing company. If you get to your destination that is great, and even hoped for, but it is not their prime motivator. Which would get the executives fired first…a) flights that deliver 200 people five or six hours late to Paris because of crewing problems or b) 200 people who can’t buy $250,000 worth of tickets to Paris because the website is down? Ask the former CIO that question.

  12. It would be nice if AA would add Boeing 767 or 777 (777X) to their flight routes to Hawai’i, all would be well. Used to fly United to Hawai’i, much better experience to HI.

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