Hawaii is clearly in an enviable position as one of the world’s most in-demand, premium leisure destinations. So it makes sense that airlines would vie for dominion. Hawaiian has long reigned as Hawaii’s hometown carrier, but Southwest is fast encroaching on the territory.
And it isn’t just Southwest either, as Alaska, American, and United also stake out their own slice of island traffic. But we’ll focus on Southwest Airlines since, as you see, they present both the biggest competitive threat to bellwether Hawaiian Airlines, which will provide visitors the best opportunity for Hawaii deals.
There are 19 routes where Southwest competes head to head with Hawaiian Airlines.
Las Vegas to Honolulu. Maui.
Los Angeles to Honolulu. Kona. Maui. Kauai.
Long Beach to Honolulu. Maui
Oakland to Honolulu. Maui. Kauai.
Phoenix to Honolulu and Maui.
San Jose to Honolulu. Maui.
Sacramento to Honolulu. Maui.
San Diego to Honolulu. Maui.
And that’s where you’ll find the best prices.
Competition always yields the best Hawaii deals, so we feel sure you can expect to find sales and the lowest prices on those routes above. Plan on one of those city pairs if you are looking for Cheap Flights to Hawaii.
Contrasting the differences and similarities.
Food. Hawaiian provides complete complimentary meals, even including wine. Southwest provides only light snacks and beverages, so you’ll need to pack your own food for 5+ hour flights.
Checked bags. You’ll always get two free bags when flying Southwest. And that’s significant. On Hawaiian, expect to pay $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag. Multiply that times the number of people traveling and times two directions.
Seat assignments. On Hawaiian, you’ll be able to select seats at purchase, on all but their cheapest basic economy fares. On Southwest, there are no seat assignments. They do, however, offer a variety of premium pre-boarding options based on fares, elite status, and more. There is also a day of travel upgraded boarding available for $50 on flights to/from Hawaii.
Premium seating and classes of service. Southwest offers a single class of service. Hawaiian, however, offers premium economy seating with more legroom, early boarding, and other perks. They also offer business-class service (called first-class domestically) that includes comfortable lie-flat seating on A330 wide-body aircraft.
Economy seats. There is slightly more legroom on average flying Southwest vs. Hawaiian. The amount of difference to us, however, seems negligible. Seat width is typically comparable.
Loyalty programs and credit cards. Rapid Rewards and Hawaiian Miles are each unique, with Hawaiian’s being a more traditional miles-based offering, whereas Southwest’s is point and spending-based. Both companies also have branded credit cards that have perks and fees worth investigating.
We welcome your help in contrasting Southwest and Hawaiian and how you plan to take advantage of this burgeoning competition.