Hawaiian Airlines' New Systems Have Kinks To Resolve

Hawaiian Airlines Responds About Basic Economy

We’ve heard from Hawaiian Airlines about their upcoming basic economy offering. They provided some useful clarification on the new Main Cabin Basic offering and why they are moving in this direction. Alex Da Silva, Senior Communications Manager, offered the following:

Hawaiian Airlines: “We have been competing against basic economy fares offered by every major U.S. carrier that serves Hawaii with our full-service product. Adding Main Cabin Basic to our Main Cabin, Extra Comfort and First Class products will allow us to offer competitively priced options to guests who value particular product elements differently.”

Beat of Hawaii: True enough. All carriers will be on a level playing field. We don’t need to like or buy basic economy, but it appears here to stay.

Hawaiian Airlines: “Guests will still be allowed one hand-carry bag and one personal item, and they will earn the standard number of miles on their ticket purchase.”

Beat of Hawaii: To contrast, United Airlines does not allow a full size carry-on in basic economy (only under seat storage). They permit mileage accrual, but not towards elite status. American only allows 50% of normal mileage accrual. Alaska provides both miles and full size carry-on. With all carriers, since you will be boarding last, carry-on luggage may be challenging.

Hawaiian Airlines: “Main Cabin Basic seats cannot be changed or refunded, advance seat assignments are not available, and guests will be in the last boarding group. Once on board, all guests in our Main Cabin will receive the same complimentary meals and snacks, in-flight entertainment and award-winning Hawaiian hospitality for which we’re known.”

Beat of Hawaii: These basic economy rules are pretty much standard across the airlines.

Long time in planning:

This had been in the works for some time. The company said earlier this month that it finally decided to offer a stripped down version of its economy offering in 2019. With its unique leisure market, Hawaiian did not want to alienate its customers.

How will Hawaiian Airlines basic economy be priced.

We expect basic economy to be priced $30 to $50 cheaper each way compared with regular economy. What happens with other airlines’ basic economy offerings, is that advertised specials focus on the price of basic economy rather than regular economy. We’ve seen that recently with Alaska Airlines’ sales. So another way to look at it is that sale prices will increase by up to $50 if you want to avoid basic economy limitations.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Main Cabin Basic features.

1. No selectable seat assignments. These will probably be automatically assigned at or prior to check-in. Their standard economy offering is eligible for you to select a seat anytime at or after purchase, and only premium seating is excluded from what’s available.

2. Last to board. Main Cabin Basic will include a new boarding zone that will be following the current last to board zone 3. This can be concerning when it comes to finding space in overhead bins.

3. No ticket changes after 24 hours. On regular economy tickets, changes are permitted, albeit for a fee. Most other airlines’ basic economy offerings do not offer changes.

4. Hawaiian Airlines offers free food for all economy passengers and we’re glad to see that those in Main Cabin Basic will be included. That was previously mentioned by outgoing CEO Mark Dunkerley, who said, “when you’re going to Hawaii, plunking down that level of household expenditure, you don’t want to be told that you’re so cheap that you don’t rate a meal.”

Basic economy on other flights to Hawaii.

Read our updated Guide to Basic Economy to Hawaii to see how each airline’s offerings compare.

Challenges and benefits of basic economy.

There are challenges facing Hawaiian Airlines as they contemplate how to roll out this significant change. The last thing the Hawaii bellwether airline wants is to have such an offering backfire and insult a loyal client base. ‘

Southwest Airlines on basic economy.

Critics and Hawaii newcomer Southwest Airlines have deemed it, “second class.” Southwest does not offer basic economy and isn’t likely to. Company CEO Gary Kelly had said, “there is a huge value in offering all of our customers – 100% of them – a great product.”

Hawaiian Airlines is soon to face the impact of Southwest Airlines Hawaii flights.

What’s your take on basic economy at Alaska, American, Delta and United, and how do you feel about the upcoming basic economy at Hawaiian Airlines?

Updated 12/28/18.

Photo above includes both economy and exit row seats on inter-island aircraft.

48 thoughts on “Hawaiian Airlines Responds About Basic Economy”

  1. Aloha Friends! My family of four (me, hubby, 22 year son, 19 year daughter- all over 6 feet tall, except me at 5’6) just flew Hawaiian to Maui on December 19, 2018-December 27th….what use to be the “Best” airline is mediocre at best:(…for reference, we go to Hawaii every 1-1 1/2 years & fly whatever big name airline we can find a reasonable $ amount/flight time to fly-but had been impartial to Hawaiian over the years for previous obvious reasons:)…we live in OC, California so usually have to fly LAX-OGG for best rates…The overall flight was just okay, nothing to smile about- biggest problem is the AirBUS we were on (2 aisles on either side of 4 seat center row) was so LOUD it was annoying for a 5 hour flight:(…wish we had packed our bulky noise-cancelling headphones- and the seats were CRAMPED! and I am only 5’6- my hubby 6’4″, son 6’3″ sat on either side of aisle to get a little leg room- Bummer all bulk-heads were sold out when we booked (probably sell out first, and yes they charge you more $ for a little more comfort) FOOD- ugh! my family responded- I though it was okay but not the hot meal they have had in the past (a “warm’ breakfast sandwich flying out and a “warm” chicken sandwich flying inbound)…they “nickel & dime” you on everything- headphones, a real movie to watch (free Hawaiian promos- fine, but no one wants to watch 5 hours of that) etc…my family had downloaded movies on a couple lap tops but I did not bring mine:(…my family also packed their own food- fruit, granola bars etc..for inbound and we picked up ONO sandwiches at Take Home Maui in Lahaina for the outbound flight…Hawaiian Airlines in our opinion continues to decline over the years we have flown them (we have been coming to Hawaii for over 30 years:)…I cannot wait until SOUTHWEST comes into the market:):):)…let’s see how they do…bye, bye Hawaiian, HELLO Southwest!

    1. Nita, if you have been coming to Hawaii for over 30 years your comment about Hawaiian continuing to decline is a little suspect to say the least. The Hawaiian of today is light years ahead of what it was 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. It also is a far superior “Hawaiian” experience option for traveling to Hawaii then anyone else. If you think SWA will be a better option because they will sell some some cheap tickets (initially) to break into the market, good for you. If you think their single isle 737 will be a better option then Hawaiian’s A330 you are REALLY dreaming….get back to me after your over 6 foot tall family spend 5 hours in a 737.

  2. I’m not hearing much aloha regarding Hawaiian’s basic economy. Coming from the east coast, it’s hard enough to get to the islands, and even though I have to be very budget conscious, it would have to be an emergency for me to consider basic economy on any carrier. I certainly wouldn’t want to be separated from a partner, or family if they were coming. Disappointing to hear that Hawaiian is just one more gouging airline, despite their effort to seem unique with their island inspired uniforms and drinks. Just get me there with some shred of comfort!

  3. On the Titanic, this class of service was called “steerage”….

    Even if all goes according to plan, Basic Economy will NOT save the passengers money because, with increasingly less opportunity to store carry-on overhead, folks will be forced to pay for that big carry-on to be checked, at a price as high as, or higher than, what they “saved” on the fare. Because, let’s face it, folks are NOT going to pack less. Or buy fewer tchatchkes to carry home or pack fewer gifts for Aunty, Uncle, Tutu and Cuzns.

    Even Freddy Laker would say “no can.”
    Flying Southwest, all the way, baby.

  4. Where has “customer first” mentality gone? I have flown many carriers. my favorite is Hawaiian, I’m using them again in February but that will be my last trip to Hawaii. These carriers know you can’t drive there so they gouge the last dime out of your pocket. I can afford the trip but their greed has soured me to the Islands of Paradise. Hawaiian Airlines was my last hope and now they are following the other carriers lead with their basic economy. I believe it will be sometime before Southwest is able to master the proper flight control. It is a sad day for Hawaii. Such a beautiful place.

  5. Speaking of cutting back on customer service, any idea what happened to Hawaiian’s Android app? It disappeared from Google Play a few weeks ago, during the busiest time at HNL.


    1. Hi Otto.

      If you mean their entertainment app, it is in the Play Store upon checking just now.


  6. Flying most airlines today is like getting on a Greyhound bus with a YMCA basketball team that was unable to take a shower after playing three tournament games. Wish there was more competition so those who treat their customers badly would go broke.

  7. Airlines keep referring to a sandwich as a meal – no way is that a meal – flew previously because ha did serve a meal with a glass of wine – sad to see the changes

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