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How To Choose | Hawaiian Or Southwest To Hawaii In Economy

From an analysis of costs, seating, legroom, and more, to tips and a checklist to help you decide.

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50 thoughts on “How To Choose | Hawaiian Or Southwest To Hawaii In Economy”

  1. We have always loved flying Hawaiian for the extra room in comfort class’ ( even though it was more cost) the charging ports and just the feel of the flight..
    but since they have cut straight through flights from the west coast we decided to try Southwest .. with the free luggage and a 5 hr 20 min flight it was a no brainer this time so we will see!

  2. Food!! Very important! I know Hawaiian offers an actual meal(in every class), whereas I think Southwest is more of a snack. Will always choose Hawaiian…wonderful service, great crew, love their wide body planes! Always a pleasant experience!

  3. One big difference could be in the carrier’s refund & change policies.
    We had inter-island flights booked on Hawaiian and had to cancel for medical reasons. The cancellation was many months in advance of travel. Didn’t matter…Hawaiian gobbled up our hundreds of $$. No refunds or certificates for future travel.
    This was 3 or 4 years ago so perhaps Hawaiian’s business practices have changed.

  4. Aloha. We just flew Hawaiian Air to Big Island and Southwest back to Maui. The difference was striking. Hawaiian was seamless, and very aloha. Cost was a bit more, we have a HA credit card for free bag. We returned via SW because of flight times. There way only one nonstop on the way back on Hawaiian. That is an issue. I did not care for SW at all. The feeling was completely different. At the airport the gate person was “warming up the audience” like a TV show and putting down Hawaiian Air, etc.
    No assigned seats creates a undercurrent of stress. Preboarding was not offered for those needing help. The people were not kind nor attentive like Hawaiian. Most important to move people through. Never again.

    1. You brought up a good point Ane…SWA has very much been the loudmouth newcomer to Hawaii who thinks throwing stones at the locals makes them more acceptable. They epitomize people that move to Hawaii and start speaking pidgin to try and fit in.
      I’ll stick with the airline that knows, supports and understands Hawaii.

  5. Not sure if you mentioned it in your separate reviews, but I can not stand Hawaiian Airlines narrow body planes. The ones I flew on did not recline much, and that is important to me. The first time I flew to Kona from LA, I felt I was being tortured. The second time was a redeye flight from Maui to LA. Imagine a redeye flight where the seats don’t recline. How do you sleep? You don’t. You didn’t mention if Southwest seats recline or not, but if they do, that makes it a winner no matter what other criteria. Reclining is more desirable than USB ports and/or WiFi.

  6. Why didn’t you include Alaska Air in your comparison? I almost always fly Alaska to Kona. I think it is better than Hawaiian. I have not flown SW to Hawaii though.

  7. I’ll choose a Hawaiian A330 with seating assignment any day over a Southwest 737 with their free for all seating. End of story.

  8. We just returned (again) from Hawaii..Maui for the first time, on Southwest. We had 7 going (including a 2 year old) and 5 coming back on Southwest. Our experience was stellar for many reasons and we will continue to use Southwest for our Hawaii travel. The flights RT would have been close to $8000 but with SW points/companion pass, total was $878. I earned A list and a companion pass so we had exemplary service from start to finish, including a rebooking for part of our group because of Hurricane Ian. SW made a mistake and called ME to rectify it by making sure I was refunded properly. Finally, leaving Maui the line to check in for SW was 5 minutes; Hawaiian was out the door and outside! Southwest for the win!

  9. You made an error. You made a point of showing there is extra legroom on Southwest. However, at the end, you state if you eat extended legroom in economy choose Hawaiian. Did I miss something? Also, you do know other airlines also fly that route as well, right? I used United Airlnes because I wanted to avoid LAX altogether. They did a great job, but for some reason no USB ports in economy.

  10. It really is a toss up and it comes down to what one values most. If it’s to fly as cheaply as possible and the heck with the legroom, then I think the nod goes to SWA. But if you’d like more leg room and comfort I’d go with HI. Especially because you can pay extra for the Extra Comfort seats (which you failed to mention)

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