Your Hawaii Flight Price Dropped | Gotcha Or Not?

Hawaii Flight Price Just Dropped – Are You Trapped?

It happens. You buy flights to Hawaii and then find the price has suddenly dropped. If you have set an alert through Google Flights as we do, it’s easy to track price fluctuation. What happens next depends on the airline you are flying and if it’s been under or over 24 hours since ticketing.

So here’s how it works with the airlines flying to Hawaii:

You’re saved if the price drops within 24 hours of your Hawaii ticket purchase. The US DOT requires that airlines let you cancel without any fees. And we have found that very easy to do with Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian, Southwest, and United. If it’s under 24 hours, buying a new ticket before canceling the old one is what we’d suggest. Then the first ticket is refunded to the original form of payment.

One tip we can share from our own painful experiences is to keep your own records of airline credits/refunds, including the original booking/ticket number. That is unless and until you can see your credit online. 

But what if it is beyond 24 hours? Each airline varies significantly.

Alaska Airlines. You can use their price guarantee if you don’t have their cheapest (Saver Fare) and have regular main cabin economy or above. Money is refunded to your online Alaska Airlines wallet. It can be easily accessed for your next trip within one year of the original ticket purchase. We have done this many times, and it’s easy.

American Airlines. American provides a trip credit applicable towards future flights. You have one year from the credit date to use the money. American also offers refundable fares worth checking into. You’ll need to save the ticket number to access the credit.

Delta Air Lines. For all but basic economy, what Delta calls an eCredit will be provided. Those expire one year from the original purchase date and can be accessed on your SkyMiles account.

Hawaiian Airlines. They regularly offer refundable fares for less than 20% more than non-refundable. Those are the only ones where you can easily take advantage of price drops. If you think there’s a chance you might cancel, this could be cheaper than buying trip insurance.

Otherwise, your options beyond 24 hours with Hawaiian are canceling and obtaining a credit (except their cheapest fares) that can be used for a future ticket.

There are two problems. (1). When you are ready to book your new flight and use the credit remaining, you have to call them to do so. It cannot be done online. (2) The entire credit must be used at once. So, if you buy a $500 ticket, and the price drops to $400, you will get the $500 credit, but you have to buy something for $500, or you lose the difference.

Also, remember that seat assignment fees are not cancellable or refundable except when purchased with refundable airfares. Sometimes we’ll buy an exit row seat which is not refunded if we decide to cancel.

One comment today from Samo said this about trying to get a refund with Hawaiian: “Not sure if this airline is subliminally telling me to fly other airlines.”

Southwest. This is the easiest. There is no charge for changes or cancellations if you do that within 10 minutes of departure. The lowest fares receive a flight credit for future use, while the higher fares give you credit card refunds. Also, if you buy one of the early boarding options, those too will go back as a flight credit—the easiest.

United Airlines. United is also selling refundable tickets for not much more than non-refundable ones. BOH editors just bought those traveling internationally from Hawaii this summer. With the basic economy, you’re stuck, and there are no options after the 24-hour grace period. With regular economy, you can change each way for a $49 fee. United also told us that within 30 days of purchase, there might be another option for price drops, but the details of that offer aren’t clear.

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12 thoughts on “Hawaii Flight Price Just Dropped – Are You Trapped?”

  1. I have been having nothing but ongoing problems with using a flight refund credit with Hawaiian since they switched to their new computer system. I’m sure any regular readers already know about the recent problems that Hawaiian experienced when they switched the host of their online services. There were days of delays, inability to check-in online and so many more problems. Now, I fly interisland about once/month between Kona and Honolulu. I had a ticket credit for a prior cancellation and shortly after the changeover, I tried to use that credit but the reservation agent said she, “Could not find it,” and told me to allow a few more days for the system to update and then call back. I waited a week, called again, and they still could not find the credit (using the original ticket #) but this time, I was instructed to file a claim with the Customer Service department. I did that, and it asked for the original confirmation #, ticket #, route, FF#, etc. It took three times filling out the extensive form before it was accepted and I received a confirmation email with an incident # (the first 2 times, after submitting the form, I received an error message saying “Forbidden Page” or something like that.). The auto-reply said, “Due to the high-volume of cases received, our Consumer Affairs Office will respond to you as soon as possible.” I waited. And waited, but never received any further reply. Another few weeks went by and I still needed to book my ticket, so I did so and paid for it (and the price had, of course, gone up). I was told by the reservation agent that customer service was still more than TWO MONTHS behind getting to issues, due to all the problems with the computer changeover. I then submitted another claim, including the 1st incident #. Crickets. I waited about a month (having bought 2 more interisland trips in the meantime. The reservations agent could still find no credit.). I waited yet another month and filed a third request. That was over 3 weeks ago.

  2. Hawaiian Airlines flight price are so high in November I am having to Cancel my reservation. So losing an entire family coming to visit 20 people and 4 rooms? So sad!!!

  3. With Southwest if you paid in cash, the difference in the better fair cost goes back to you for future booking, the actual money stays with Southwest. If paid using points, the points come back to you immediately.

  4. We are die hard United flyers, except for inter-island where we still use our miles (when it makes financial sense).

    Every time there’s something amiss with our travel plans United folks have been there for us, including “appropriating” an aisle First Class bed for me to lie down to see a mainland specialist after my spinal cord injury. They fixed the fare and moved my wife to the front most business seat at no extra charge so she could take care of me.

    Definitely our favorite airline!

    1. Hi MJ.

      Thanks for that positive feedback about United. Both of us are about to fly with them to Europe from Hawaii. 15k miles RT. We hope our experience is as good as yours, and look forward to some interesting trip reports on the from and to Hawaii legs.


      1. We have had the Chase Mileage Plus credit cards for years and haven’t paid for airline tickets in Decades! The fee they charge is more than offset by the free baggage, as well as TSA perks.

        I assume you guys probably already have this but we strongly recommend it to those who don’t.

        1. Hi MJ.

          Given none of us has flown United in quite some time, we don’t. But this summer that will be changing, so perhaps going forward.


  5. Hawaiian Airlines is so messed up right now, if you get a credit, the chances that you
    will be able to use that credit is questionable at best!

    1. You can use it. However, due to Hawaiian’s call center, it makes it way more difficult than it needs to be

  6. “Not sure if this airline is subliminally telling me to fly other airlines.”

    I laughed at Samo’s humorous statement, but frankly, I’m not so sure it’s subliminal. When calling to use the flight credit, the price is higher (you don’t get the cheaper fares on the web site) even if it is the exact same flight on the same day. So I often rebook on the web, then you eventually get hit with the 2nd problem of having to use the credit all at once or lose a portion of it.

    Come on, HAL!! And where is the fare calendar?

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