It’s official – Southwest will soon be flying to one of the greatest honeymoon and vacation spots on earth: Hawaii.
I’ve rounded up all the confirmed info and some well-sourced rumors. Read on to get the full scoop!
Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island Will See Flights First
The LA Times quoted one of Southwest’s executives as stating that Southwest will fly to/from three Hawaiian islands, at least at first. Those will be Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii (aka the Big Island). Each of those islands is impressive in its own right but I’m a bit surprised that Maui wasn’t mentioned. I suspect it will be added to the mix soon for Southwest.
To Start, Southwest Will Service Hawaii via California
In a few public communications, Southwest has disclosed that to start it will be California airports they’ll use for Hawaii service. Such routes are within the range limitations of Southwest’s many existing 737-800 aircraft and those will be the aircraft used at first for the Hawaii flights. As Southwest ramps up use of its next generation, even-longer-range aircraft – the 737 MAX – they may offer Hawaii service to/from other airports such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland and Seattle.
Ticket Sales for Hawaii Flights Will Begin in 2018
Southwest has been consistent in their public communications that they’ll begin selling fares in 2018 for flights to/from Hawaii. It appears they’re aiming to begin flights in calendar year 2018 also but aren’t quite ready to commit to that. That’s not surprising because there are various government approvals needed before the flights can commence.
Southwest’s Entry Should Drive Down Prices
It’s known as the Southwest Effect: When Southwest enters a new market, airfares there come down. This has been proven via multiple studies. This of course is great news for flyers paying cash for their flights.
Southwest’s point redemptions are generally (though not officially) proportional to cash prices so this should be good news for flyers planning to redeem points for Hawaii flights. And because Hawaii is a US state, there won’t be the exorbitant taxes encountered with some other tropical destinations.
As of writing you can get both the personal Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards cards – the Plus and the Premier – with 40,000 point signup bonuses. It’s too early to know with certainty but that haul of points could potentially get you up to two one-way flights and of course the points will count toward earning a Companion Pass!
Southwest’s Companion Pass Will Work for Hawaii Flights
With Hawaii being a bit of a unique destination, there were some folks who thought the Southwest Companion Pass might not be usable for flights to the Pacific islands. Those concerns were put to bed by the airline when they confirmed that the Companion Pass will work for Hawaii as it does for every other Southwest destination. Companions will fly for free other than the minor domestic taxes! As I’ve explained before, the Companion Pass is especially valuable for honeymooners (and couples in general).
Two Free Checked Bags is Big
Flights between the mainland and Hawaii generally take about 5-6 hours (or more if to/from inland airports). It’s no surprise then that the average Hawaiian vacation is 8 days in duration. With stays that long, visitors usually check a bag or even multiple bags. The corresponding bag fees add up quickly on other airlines but Southwest has stood strong with its no-fee policy for 2 checked bags per person per flight. That can mean savings of hundreds of dollars for families headed to Hawaii.
Southwest is Also Eyeing Inter-Island Flights
Though it’s expected that the first Southwest flights involving Hawaii will be to/from the US mainland, the carrier has already made public comments about potentially getting into the inter-island game. Currently that market is dominated by Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air and Mokulele Airlines. With Southwest’s reputation for quick turn of their aircraft they could likely perform well in this market.
After much speculation, Southwest has officially announced they’ll be flying to and from the Hawaiian islands. The first such flights will be to/from California. Ticket sales will begin in 2018, with flights starting in either 2018 or early 2019. Southwest’s vaunted Companion Pass will be valid on these flights! The islands likely to be serviced first are Kauai, Oahu and Hawaii (aka the Big Island) and Southwest is already openly acknowledging a desire to provide interisland service as well. So rack up your Rapid Rewards points and earn yourself a Companion Pass in early 2018 and you can really take advantage of this news!
Are you going to fly Southwest to Hawaii? Share your plan in the comments below!
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