Seeing Rollercoaster Fares? Have FCF’s 2-Step Plan in Your Pocket


FCF’s anti-gouge Hawaiian hula 2-step tactic, that works on any route.

As we enter a post-lockdown world of travel more resilient than ever and certainly as keen as ever to go places, isn’t it nice to see the airlines coming to the party with sympathetic pricing? Oh wait, that was just a dream I had…

Unfortunately, the airlines aren’t doing that at all. It’s actually quite the contrary. Instead, they’re gouging one day and dangling low-hanging fruit the next.

Navigating the New World

So, what’s a poor premium flyer to do with all this? Well, a good first step is to fight high fares with miles and grab low fares with cash. It’s a double-handed backhand aimed at keeping the airlines in their court (as if that’s possible). Well, at least you’ll have a better chance of winning.

First, let’s look at the example that inspired this report, which you may find hard to believe. Or maybe not.

On June 9 and 10, we saw nonstop Business Class fares on American to all islands in Hawaii for $4,497. Yet, if you made a stop in Honolulu, you could pay just $1,287. Talk about a luau of a price difference.

And THEN, one day later on June 11, American’s nonstop Business Class fares to Kauai plummeted to $1,147 and Honolulu plummeted to $851 for some dates. That’s a $3,646 difference. Though some dates were still as high as $2,189.

This is the rollercoaster ride we’re talking about. We were wondering if American was waiting to see if Delta and United would follow suit. When that didn’t happen, did they give up and bring their fares back down?

The Two-Part Plan

When Fares Are High

Your pesky brother-in-law Derrick wants the whole family to lock in tickets now for your sister’s surprise 40th luau, so the whole family can arrive at the same time. However, as you flexible travelers know, that’s exactly when fares are going to be through the roof, when you have zero wiggle room on your flight criteria.

In this situation we say: If fares are very high at all, use your miles, but with a different mindset.

While we’ve recently seen free American Business Class awards as low as 28,000 miles in the past (and all the way up to 145,000), we did recently see a handful of dates with free awards for 50,000 each way. So if you have to pay 100,000 miles round-trip, that’s still a deal when fares to Hawaii are ridiculously high, as American’s points can be frequently purchased for ~1.8 cents each, so you’d be saving $2,697 in the example we faced last month.

Spending 100,000 miles to confirm your dates and keep Derrick off your back? It can only get better from here.

When Fares Are Low

So, let’s say you’re feeling pretty good about booking your ticket with miles and THEN you find out that the fares have dropped all the way down to $851. That’s OK. Book your tickets with cash at the lower price, cancel your free award and redeposit your miles, for free.

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