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Hawaii Travel Trends in 2012

2012 went down as quite a good year, likely the best year to date in Hawaii travel. And 2013 looks to be even better. Along with a record number of visitors, 2012 saw a number of other noteworthy events and  trends.

Record-setting year for Hawaii travel

Through November, tourism was up more than $2 billion over the prior year’s period. That meant that more than 7 million visitors came to Hawaii, spending $13 Billion in total. Why? Good Hawaii travel deals and a resurging and strong demand for safe yet exotic vacations.

Hawaii airlines trifecta

Air service to Hawaii is now the most competitive we can recall in recent years. Even without much help from the legacy carriers, who show only a minor ongoing interest in our state, three airlines battles for island supremacy. Each does so their own completely unique way.

Allegiant Air. The long awaited carrier finally arrived in the islands in 2012 with air plus accommodation packages their specialty. They brought with them ultra low airfares, some of which are still available for $99 each way including tax. With those rock bottom prices, however, came many added cost options starting with overhead carry-on’s at $25, plus food, beverage and more.

Hawaiian Air. Hawaii’s legacy carrier moved in two directions in 2012.

First with their intensified international focus. While Hawaiian serves eleven US mainland gateways including the latest, New York City, it also now has an equal number of international destinations. A focus on Asia and South Pacific expansion will also soon include New Zealand and Taipei. We’ve seen some fares which include free stopovers. Look for that to continue as a key strategy of providing a Hawaii vacation stopover as part of mainland to Australasia travel.

The other change at Hawaiian was to distinguish their service from the other mainland to Hawaii carriers. Hawaiian has remained the only carrier to offer free hot meals in coach. Recently they modified their meal menu and added wine with lunch and dinner, snack service and a signature cocktail to their free coach offerings.

Alaska Air. This Northwest based carrier continues to expand its presence in Hawaii. The islands now represent an impressive 20% of their global market. They now serve all of the major Hawaiian islands from the Pacific Northwest (Bellingham, Seattle, Portland), and also fly to Hawaii from Alaska, the Bay Area (Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose) as well as San Diego.

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7 thoughts on “Hawaii Travel Trends in 2012”

  1. Thanks for the info. Is any airline likely to begin direct daily service between Hilo and the Bay Area?

  2. Do you know whether or not the JFK to HNL flight for HA has been profitable? There seem to be sales all the time.

    1. Hi Keith,

      I don’t have any specific information, but here’s my impression. The route is highly competitive with United’s Newark to Honolulu nonstop. It is also a new market for Hawaiian, and New Yorkers more frequently think of the Caribbean in terms of beach vacations. As a result of these factors, prices have been running in the low $400’s round trip for many dates, which isn’t really sustainable in the long run.


  3. Thanks for the post. When do you think daily direct service from the West Coast to Hilo will resume?

    1. Hi Gregory,

      There is non stop daily service now on United from Los Angeles. Prices aren’t too bad at the moment either, generally under $450 round trip.


    2. That is what I thought particularly at current fuel prices. Well I hope they don’t cancel before my 2 week trip this Fall. Thanks for a great website.

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