It looks like Southwest Airlines might have a surprise for us in store for Valentine’s Day. Its long-anticipated Hawaii flights might finally go on sale on February 14th.
Yes, Southwest’s Hawaii flights might go on sale as early as tomorrow.
SWA has not officially confirmed the rumor. The airline is still awaiting its ETOPS approval from the FAA and will not be able to sell the tickets until the approval has been received.
Where is Southwest in the ETOPS approval process?
Southwest has been working on the ETOPS approval for months. As a matter of fact, the airline has been very close to the completion of the process for a while. Reportedly, the only two items missing were the validation flights and the tabletop exercises. These items require the participation of FAA inspectors. Unfortunately, these steps had to be delayed due to the government shutdown.
As Simple Flying reported, last week, however, Southwest was able to successfully complete its first validation flight to Hawaii. N8329B, a Boeing 737-800, left Oakland International Airport (OAK) at 11:13 PST and landed at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu (HNL) at 14:52 HST.
It is not clear how many validation flights Southwest is required to complete before it is granted ETOPS approval. Typically, there are a few flights that are completed within a short period of time. It is definitely in Southwest’s best interest to get all of the flights done fairly quickly because there is a slight chance that the U.S. Government will shut down again, even though this is rather unlikely at this point.
We also do not know if all of the tabletop exercises have been completed. However, in my experience, these are usually done before the validation flights are initiated. Accordingly, it is very likely that no additional tabletop exercises are required at this time.
With that being said, we all want to know when Southwest is actually going to start commercial service to Hawaii.
When is Southwest expected to start commercial service to Hawaii?
According to Simple Flying, Southwest’s Hawaii flights could commence as soon as March. The airline will initially serve Hawaii (Honolulu (Oahu), Kahului (Maui), Kona (Island of Hawaii), and Lihue (Kauai)) from Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC), and Sacramento (SMF). Tickets are expected to cost between $99 and $139 each way. SWA is also planning on offering interisland service between the Hawaiian Islands.
Supposedly, the fact that Southwest has successfully completed its first validation flight has already led to a fare war for flights to Hawaii. Passengers traveling from California to Hawaii are probably very happy about the new competitor entering the market.
Let’s see if Southwest Airlines will live up to its New York Stock Exchange symbol and show us some “LUV” this Valentine’s.
Are you looking forward to Southwest Airlines’ Hawaii flights as much as we are?