Around a year ago, in October 2017, Southwest Airline announced plans to begin flying to Hawaii. Being one of the few corners of the US not yet conquered by the low-cost airline, these plans initially excited us. Following a recent call giving details of their third-quarter earnings, we now know a little more about the plans. This is certainly an ambitious plan for the airline, as a lot of work and resources have already been spent to make Southwest Hawaii flights a reality.
What Did We Know?
From what we’ve previously heard we know a few things about the undertaking. Southwest has applied for ETOPS certification from the FAA. This will mean that the carrier will be able to fly its B737 fleet across the ocean from mainland USA to Hawaii. We also know that the airline intends to set up interisland flights at Hawaii.
As a result, the airline is set to establish a fairly robust presence in Hawaii. Specifically, Southwest is investing in setting up a dedicated area at Honolulu Airport. The gate area was previously used by the now-defunct Island Air. As such, the airline plans to offer longer flights to Honolulu, with shorter flights island hopping with passengers.
Up To 15 Flights A Day
Southwest Airlines recently announced their third quarter results. As part of this Gary Kelly, CEO of the Airline, said: “For next year, Hawaii is our expansion focus”. Discussing the results on a press phone call, the airline gave a little more detail about the plans. While Mr Kelley didn’t specify how many flights the carrier would operate between California and Hawaii, he gave some key figures which help. In an article for The Motley Fool, Adam Levine-Weinberg did a bit of maths. Using the figures given by Mr Kelly, he was able to give us a clearer view of potential operations.
“Southwest Airlines is on track to offer approximately 160 billion available seat miles in 2018. Thus, it plans for up to 8 billion ASMs of capacity growth next year, with up to 4 billion ASMs of growth targeted at the Hawaii market. Based on a roundtrip distance of about 5,000 miles and 175 seats per aircraft, that implies an average of about 12.5 daily roundtrips to Hawaii during 2019. Of course, the Hawaii flights aren’t likely to start on Jan. 1, and Southwest will probably allow for a bit of a ramp-up period. Thus, a more reasonable expectation might be for an average of no more than 10 flights a day during the first quarter, rising to as many as 15 flights a day by June.”
Let’s talk about points:
If you want to go to Hawaii with Southwest with points, then you are in luck. Southwest Airlines offer a few co-branded Chase credit cards. Let us tell you about a couple of them:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card:
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card you get 40,000 points after spending $1000 within the first 3 months, you also get 3000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary date. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can earn unlimited miles and they don’t expire as long as the card account is open. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is perfect if you are an occasional Southwest flyer and the annual fee is $69.
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card:
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card you get 40,000 points after spending $1000 within the first 3 months, you also get 6000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary date. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You can earn unlimited miles and they don’t expire as long as the card account is open. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is perfect if you are an avid Southwest flyer and the annual fee is $99.
What is the difference between the Plus and Premier Credit Card?
The annual fee between both cards has a difference of $30, however with the Premier card you get twice as man points on your card anniversary date which according to Nerd Wallet, 3000 extra points are worth around $30 per year, so this of sets the additional $30 in annual fees that the Premier card has. Furthermore, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees whereas the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card charges 3% for all foreign transaction fees.
Worrying For Hawaiian And Alaska Air
The news will come as particularly worrying for both Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines. The pair currently dominates the California to Hawaii sector. As such the introduction of a major low-cost carrier on the route will almost certainly mean some of their passengers are attracted away by the low fares offered.
Of course, it still seems as though the airline will not launch flights until some time in 2019. As they are still waiting for their ETOPS certification, tickets have not yet gone on sale. Southwest’s Cheif Revenue Officer, Andrew Watterson, previously said “No one will remember the day we started. They’ll remember if we started poorly… we want to do this properly and wait for the FAA to finish their process before we start ours.”
When do you think Southwest flights to Hawaii will begin? Let us know in the comments down below!