How Adaptable Are You? | Hawaii Vacations Before Tourism’s Lighting Return

Hawaii Flight Prices Take Off, Meeting Stratospheric Hotel Costs

Hawaii airfares are fast-rising. That’s something all of us are noticing. Hawaii airfare deals have been fewer, and when they occur, they do so from fewer gateways and over shorter periods. And prices just aren’t nearly as low as they were even late last year. Hawaii-bound travelers are feeling yet another pinch in addition to the cost of Hawaii accommodations.

Flights to Hawaii under pressure.

Airlines join Hawaii hotels in getting more money from fewer visitors.

That comes as the airline industry projects a record $964 billion in revenue this year, with their profits also rising.

The possibility of finding once ubiquitous cheap flights to Hawaii has become more of an uphill battle than we can ever recall. We’ve been looking for tickets to the mainland and other places and have been shocked at the prices we’re finding for this spring, in the low season.

The world of airlines’ complete dynamic pricing is in place. This is why the price you see first may not be as good as the next day. The more popular your travel dates are in search, the more opportunity the airline will raise them.

Airlines have perfected the art of controlling prices at the cost of travelers. They have deployed the data industry’s sophisticated dynamic pricing algorithms, which evaluate a myriad of data, including historical booking data, prices across all airlines, customer preferences, and more, to make real-time adjustments to Hawaii airfares. Airlines obtain maximum revenue by pricing tickets dynamically rather than on a static basis, as was previously the case.

Hawaii Vacation

The Hawaii flight tricks that continue to work for us include these below:

1. Being flexible with Hawaii travel dates. Here are two cases in point. We could get from Kauai to Europe for just over $500 in economy during low season. That’s an incredible price. On checking again, we saw the exact dates costing more than $1,200. The flying between Kauai and San Francisco next month, our dates revealed economy prices from $495 to $612 round trip. Finally acquiescing to a slight change in dates, we found the same route, one day earlier on departure and return for $346-$447. Not the best of deals, but certainly better.

The prices then whipsawed back and forth. While we used to think of airlines changing prices up to five times daily, now they seem to virtually change by the moment with these new dynamic pricing tools.

2. Finding cheap Hawaii airfares. We first saw the low prices that we booked using Google Flights alerts. Old techniques like clearing cookies, and using a VPN, however, are a total fail in our experience at this point. Airlines have moved beyond that and no longer need your IP address or stored cookies to manage prices.

3. Buy airline tickets to Hawaii before anything else, with this one big caveat. Obviously, accommodation prices in Hawaii are out of control, too. We tend to look at accommodations first before finding airfare since flights are way behind hotels in terms of overall trip costs.

But the trick is this. Book your airfare first, and then, using the 24-hour free peek window that all airlines must offer, you either find acceptable accommodations and car rental or cancel your airline booking online at no cost. Then, start again.

Alaska Airlines MAX 9

What’s going on in Hawaii with this latest phenomenon:

Problems are multi-faceted, to be sure. The fact that the Boeing 737 Max planes continue to be plagued by problems has caused reductions in airplane deliveries that will hurt the number of Hawaii flights and ticket prices.

At this week’s JP Morgan conference, Alaska, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines execs shared their apprehensions about the needed new planes. Southwest announced that airplane deliveries will be down 42% this year. United has given up on its MAX 10 replacement for its aging 757 fleet, and Delta said not to expect those planes for another 3 years. Alaska Airlines also said its schedule is uncertain due to Boeing issues.

Pratt & Whitney Engine Repair

Then, at Hawaiian Airlines, the A321neo issues continue to flummox them, causing flights and routes to be trimmed as planes remain out of service for up to a year at a time.

What tricks are working for you to find cheaper Hawaii airfares in 2024?

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24 thoughts on “Hawaii Flight Prices Take Off, Meeting Stratospheric Hotel Costs”

  1. I was looking forward for a trip to Hawaii. With the cost of airfare and travel it appears I lose my one chance to travel. The last time I had been in Hawaii was on my way to Vietnam 1968.
    Phil l

  2. Funny the US BLS just posted 12 month inflation numbers Feb 2024 and airline tickets dropped 6.1%, I travel a lot and haven’t seen it. My friend goes from the east coast to Seattle and pays like 900 a ticket, I flew from the East cost to Hawaii (one stopover) and paid 800, and for a longer flight (more fuel), and that has been the case several times, so that is my anecdotal experience.

    1. I cannot believe that anyone ever thought those crazy low prices would continue. That was southwest’s way to cull the herd, so to speak. The others had to kind of follow, there all knew it wouldn’t last.

      1. There’s nothing funny about it. Airline tickets make up only a small part of the Consumer Price Index .

        Airline fares are driven by costs and with new pilot contracts and high prices for her fuel it’s no wonder airlines are pricing their fares higher.

        Still way better in real dollars than 50 years ago. That’s why Hawaiian tourism has boomed

  3. I’m afraid HI is in for a bumpy ride. Rising travel costs on every front airfare, accommodations, car rentals, additional taxes/fees to start. Add the vocal negative thoughts towards visitors by the governor & locals & planes literally falling apart. Add the devalued Yen & inflation affecting discretionary spending.Lastly, after all these years of the negative impact of travelers, the powers that be have developed no plan B for locals to survive when visitors are gone.

  4. add it all up folks.. it’s just not worth the spend anymore. Add in the resentment the locals feel for tourists, and the constant ploy of the state government to find revenue streams that we all know will never be used for infrastructure and still cry about it. I’m a 20+ time visitor, and my trip in May will be my last. Place has lost its “mojo”. Hitting Croatia instead. Significantly cheaper and you have all of Europe while your out there.

  5. Let’s not forget rental cars. I guess it’s easier to rent 500 cars at $100 a day than rent 1000 cars at $50 a day.

  6. I usually book very early for flights going to Hawaii, and late for the returns since I’m pretty flexible there. Seem to work for me.

    Best regards.

  7. Been going to Hawaii for 20 years but will not go back ever again ..the price gouging on everything connected to cars food flights is offensive. There’s many other places to go visit that are warm and tropical that don’t steal from their visitors…Mark

  8. High airfares?
    Just one more the coffin of ever escalating price of visiting Hawaii.
    And just one more reason to visit Mexico, the Bahamas, or Central America and get a big bang for the buck.
    Just booked 6 nights , one block from the beach,in Puerto Vallarta, with airfare, $1400.

    1. It will always be cheaper to travel to an economically depressed country with massive poverty and human rights abuses with very few liveable wages as well as a thousand plus miles less distance to fly in fuel costs. Although cheaper, I am actually surprised Mexico costs as much as it does seeing how their common citizens live and how short a flight it is from most of the mainland US. No thanks, just went there, dipped my toe in the water, cold and dark, not really that enjoyable water and seeing the poverty while riding out of the tourist area to go off-roading; really sad to see how so many of the people have to live.

  9. BOH;

    If the airlines are not using cookies anymore the dynamic pricing model must be relying on the “law of large numbers” in their algorithm. What I think we need to do is start searching for flights on random days throughout the year . If enough of us do this often enough and repeatedly we can crash their pricing model.
    We could then declare ourselves “hackers” in a noble cause.
    Just a thought.

    1. Hi Mike.

      Yes I guess we are all hackers in that way. As you may know, one form of cookies, third-party, are being eliminated in the next few months. Things replacing them include first-party data (details you leave on an airlines’ websites), device fingerprints, contextual targeting, Universal and mobile ad IDs, among other things. We start flight searches on Google Flights in nearly every case and rarely visit airline website. Then only go to them when it is time try to book. Southwest isn’t on Flights, so that’s a different beast.


  10. The airlines seem to “know” when I’ve been looking for ticket prices. Even with entering no personal information at all, if I look for the same itinerary a few days later, they have jacked up the airfare prices, again. Does anyone know if this is a real thing, or not? Should I do a repeat airfare search using different computers or browsers? Thanks!

    1. All airlines have buckets of fares. The cheap fare bucket tend to be smaller and can sell out in a day or two. Also some cheap bucket might sellout on one leg of a round trip so the trip you looked for yesterday only has one cheap leg remaining while the other leg is now in a higher fare bucket.

  11. Seems like Hawaii is getting what they want. Higher prices to drive more tourists away. Much less expensive places to travel.

  12. Makes it sound like the airline has no costs itself… Rising oil prices, rising aircraft costs, rising labor costs, generally high inflation for everything that is purchased to run a business over the last few years, planes grounded (Boeing issues, Pratt and Whitney engine issues) and so on, those all get passed to the consumer as in every industry, I wouldn’t label the airlines as the bad guys here, there are root causes that are well beyond the airlines and beyond control of the airlines.

    1. No crocodile tears for the major airlines from me, with their lack of customer support & price gouging, especially during Holiday travel!

  13. Hi friends,

    My unfaltering faith answers most issues, but this one is a bit of a puzzle.

    Seems, with diverted flights, aircraft losing parts, problems with aircraft safety adding to those, high cost of accommodations, “they” want people to stay home.

    Another control ploy.

    🌺 🌺 🌺

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