After months of anticipation, Southwest has officially given a launch date for Hawaiian flights. Direct services begin on March 17th 2019 and tickets for Hawaii flights are now on sale for as little as $49 one way or $91.60 return! Wow!
Direct flights to Hawaii will begin from both Oakland and San Jose and you will be able to book connecting Hawaii flights from Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County, Long Beach, Burbank and San Diego.
- Oahu (HNL) – Nonstop service starts 3/17/19
- Maui (OGG) – Nonstop service starts 4/7/19
From San Jose:
- Maui (OGG) Nonstop service starts 5/26/19
- Oahu (HNL) Nonstop service starts 5/5/19
- Honolulu (HNL) to Maui (OGG): Nonstop service starts 4/28/19
- Honolulu (HNL) to Kona (KOA): Nonstop service starts 5/12/2019
The journey to flights launching…
It has been a long journey for Southwest, who started planning this route expansion over a year ago. Unlike other routes in their network however, Southwest would need to apply for an ETOPS rating from the FAA before they could launch routes to the island state. This process can take up to 12 months and must be done for each route that they would like to run.
They almost had the flights on sale before Christmas but unfortunately were delayed thanks to the US government shutdown. Southwest actually pulled some strings and hired an FAA inspector during the shutdown, and offered to pay their wages (normally it is a service provided by the government).
This got four of their aircraft approved to enter US skies and also moved their Hawaii ETOPS rating to the next stage; the flight test. They had to fly one of their Boeing 737 aircraft from the mainland to Hawaii and back again, with inspectors on board.
With the test successful, Southwest just had to wait for the FAA to finally put the forms together and issue their approval.
What will this mean for Hawaii flights?
With Southwest now operating flights to Hawaii, we can expect to see Hawaiian, United, Alaska and other carriers entering a price war to try and starve off Southwest. However, Southwest has a compelling market position (free baggage and great fares) and might just have enough clout to become the carrier of choice.
Are you excited to fly on the new routes to Hawaii on Southwest? Let us know in the comments.