Waikiki Beach Hawaii

Hawaii Travel Deal or Bust

We’re well into the fall season of Hawaii travel deals. And there have already been some, including a still active and fairly widespread sale just a few days ago. Unfortunately, however, the price cuts thus far haven’t been as deep as we’ve come to love and expect.

Airfare prices are going up

Most of the airlines serving Hawaii, including United/Continental, American, Alaska, US Air and Delta have had across the board fare increases in the past week. While each one of these only amounts to a few dollars typically, it’s the ninth or tenth round of increases we’ve already had so far this year.

Capacity is going down

Remember the days of wide-body service to Hawaii? They are all but gone since the airlines downsized capacity to smaller planes. 747’s, 777’s and other legacy wide body’s have mostly given way to 757 and 737 narrow body planes. In the process the airlines have been able to achieve significantly better control of their seat capacity. Without a huge number of seats to fill, it is a lot easier for them to play the waiting game for passengers to book. When that alone doesn’t work, airlines are switching to seasonal service or flying only certain days of the week.

Airlines are loathe to discount

The carriers are having a tough time of it, given the volatility of fuel pricing along with economic uncertainty. In an attempt to stay profitable they are busy planning the next round of new ancillary fees, tweaking ticket pricing, and continuing to downsize and eliminate any excess capacity.

Consumers don’t like or trust airlines

It won’t come as any surprise that passenger satisfaction with airlines dropped this year to an all-time low. They are at the bottom in ranking of 47 industries studied.

Get a deal or expect to pay significantly more

That’s the situation in a nutshell. If you can wait and pounce on the next airfare deal when it happens, a reasonable or even cheap Hawaii vacation will be possible. If that doesn’t work for your situation, you’re going to be largely at the mercy of the airlines.

What to expect in upcoming deals

1. There will be more Fall and Winter Hawaii airfare sales, to be sure. So do stay tuned for those. Moreover, there will continue to be sales throughout the year except during the peak times listed below.
2. Expect deals to be somewhat less extreme than in the past few years. Don’t wait for the $199 west coast round trip or the $250 east coast round trip. Chances of those occurring have all but gone out the window.
3. Grab airfare deals as quickly as possible. I expect the duration of sales to be even shorter than we’re accustomed to.
4. Don’t expect sales during peak times. Those include Christmas/New Years, Spring Break, and mid-June through mid-August. For those dates, it is almost always better to buy tickets as soon as possible, even out to the 330 day limit when the airlines first make them available.

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4 thoughts on “Hawaii Travel Deal or Bust”

  1. Hi Jeff!

    I am getting married on the big island next year, so I will be flying May 29th to June 12th, from Boise to Kona. Is Boise ever included in airfare deals as a western US departure city? Right now tickets are starting at close to $700, so I’m wondering if there is a chance that will come down and if there is a time that is usually the best to buy?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Cara,

      Boise is sometimes included in Alaska Air deals. Otherwise you can just get the best deal from Boise to say Seattle, which often has great Hawaii deals. Your June 12 date is putting your return into the beginning of high season so that may not be included.

      You might find deals for the May departure starting at any point now, although they might not appear until as late as March or April.



  2. Hi,
    Perhaps you might answer an inquiry for me. We are traveling to Kauai in mid March (from the San Francisco area) The recent airfares cover the first leg of the trip but not the last. In your opinion, would it be best to purchase now, with the total price being almost $600 per person or wait a little while with the hopes that the fares will decrease further in the future thereby covering the flight home (which would bring the total cost down )?

    1. Hi Jill.

      The airfare may not improve because your dates are in Spring Break. If you’re flexible and can wait, I don’t think it will go up, but it may well not go down.


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