First Ever Southwest Hawaii 50% Off Sale

Southwest Airlines: Good Or Bad For Hawaii?

A point of great contention is whether adding a massive number of flights and new visitors, courtesy of Southwest, has been a good thing or bad for Hawaii. The responses we’ve seen here have varied considerably. From tremendous interest and anticipation before and during their arrival to a great deal of push-back in times since that 2019 launch. Here are some thoughts to get started. We’re excited to hear your input too.

On the positive side of Southwest Hawaii.

Prices from competitive destinations where Southwest Hawaii flights originate are among the cheapest anywhere and lower than we’ve seen in Hawaii in decades. That benefits us residents as much as it does visitors. It opened up new routes that had never existed for Hawaii visitors and brought others down to a very reasonable cost, sometimes less than $100 each way.

Honestly, residents, including us, had long ago given up on the idea of reasonably priced day trips to visit friends and family, go to appointments, or go shopping on other islands. Or visiting the mainland without high airfare costs. These flights had gotten to the point where they were just too expensive for many of us here. Since Southwest arrived, however, we are doing that traveling once again. If it hadn’t been for Southwest, interisland flights would cost multiple times more than they do now. There’s no doubt about that.

Not only that, but as we shared when we first tried and reviewed it, Southwest offers a high-quality Hawaii economy product that is arguably as good as or better than its competitors.

On the not-so-positive side of Southwest Hawaii.

Many more visitors are arriving, partly due to the presence of Southwest and the unending post-Covid Hawaii travel resurgence. Primarily as a result of their entry into Hawaii, the number of domestic airline seats has risen 20% compared to pre-Covid. Wow! That is according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT). It has brought Hawaii to the brink of inability to manage visitors, given the lack of proper infrastructure in Hawaii. From traffic and beaches to restaurants and more, coping with the sheer numbers is challenging.

Is any of this a reason to point fingers at Southwest? We’d say not. If Southwest had gotten to Hawaii sooner, which they would certainly have liked to have done, they’d have been part of the mix before it became so contentious. It seems mainly coincidental to us, their delayed timing, Covid, Hawaii over tourism, and revenge travel.

Southwest does things differently.

Southwest does things differently. They always have, and they always will. It starts with buying tickets, which can only be seen on the Southwest website. For example, other airlines list their airfares on Expedia, Booking, and Google Flights. Then too, you do not get assigned seats. That’s different and something that took some getting used to for us newbies. That aspect continues when you check in 24 hours in advance and receive a boarding position. And at the airport, when you line up by that position and march onto the plane in order with others in your same boarding group. It continues with an undifferentiated one-class economy, its own take on “snacks,” unique flight attendants, and more.

Also, while we have seen no data to support this, you’ve said in countless comments that Southwest is bringing different visitors to Hawaii than the legacy airlines flying here. Many more may be first-time Hawaii visitors, and they could also be ultra-economy paradigm visitors, which Hawaii infamously now shuns. Again, that is simply a hypothesis.


Leave a Comment

Comment policy:
* No profanity, rudeness, personal attacks, or bullying.
* Hawaii focused only. General comments won't be published.
* No links or UPPER CASE text. English please.
* No duplicate posts or using multiple names.
* Use a real first name, last initial.
* Comments edited/published/responded to at our discretion.
* Beat of Hawaii has no relationship with our commentors.
* 750 character limit.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

63 thoughts on “Southwest Airlines: Good Or Bad For Hawaii?”

  1. Aloha! This is our first flight, out of about 10 visits, that we’ll use Southwest. They offered the better flight price at the time I purchased. I think the highest we’ve paid, one time, was about $198 each way. I usually pay closer to $135 each way, & that’s when we’ve used Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska, American, & the first flight on Aloha @ $125 each way. In all we’ve only has one terribly long flight, on Hawaiian when we had to fly around a storm. I’m a thrifty flyer so we can enjoy what the island offers. Aloha!

  2. I talked with Amanda Hawaiian Airlines employee about Southwest coming to the islands. They were unconcerned because Hawaiian didn’t need to compete with southwest. We were paying $300-$500 to fly to Oahu from Sacraments. We counted down the day till Southwest came to Oahu. Hawaiian made the mistake of thinking they didn’t need to be competitive. It’s the same old store p. Do Hawaiian executes know how much a gallon of milk costs or a dozen eggs? I don’t know—just my opinion.

  3. As a regular, decades long annual visitor, I was happy to see SWA offer strong competition to the always overpriced Hawaiian Airlines.

    1. Totally agree. If Southwest wasn’t here, the locals would be screwed. Hawaiian would be overcharging us right now. Look, they drove Island Air out of business, then shafted the people of Molokai and Lanai. What’s all the crying about? Southwest is here, and Southwest is good for the people of Hawaii period!

  4. $39 fares are not sustainable. The airlines know this. SW has large pockets and has the ability to wait out and watch HA go bankrupt.
    At that point, SW would rid the island of non-sustainable $39 fares.
    SW does not offer a product that interests me. One class flying blows IMHO. I like what HA offers. Their frequent flyer program allows me to get free upgrades and make offers for upgraded travel.
    SW will never offer the flying experience that I like.
    Competition is good in a free market economy, but predatory competition is not good for anyone.
    Thank you, Gentlemen

  5. I believe a more significant way to look at the lower fair, visitor, is by spending less on travel, we can put those dollars into the Hawaiian economy, during our stay. We can enjoy more of the beautiful sights Hawaii has to offer! It is our favorite destination!

  6. Bottom line: Southwest permits travel without being overcharged for inter island fares. Hawaiian Air cheated us for years without inter island competition. SWA did not bring more people. People come because they choose to. Overall, real estate interests in the islands consistently expand and build. Citizens of Hawaii have control over expansion or the lack thereof. Blaming SWA for more travelers is obtuse thinking. The airlines do not create the travel demand but merely react to the opportunities.

  7. If it wasn’t for Southwest, my family would rarely get to any of the Hawaiian islands. We love spending our money in Hawaii and love the people there and with competitive pricing, we can visit more often.

  8. Why is someone creating a controversy about normal economics, capitalism at its best. Who ever put forth this is ignoring the other players in the game american, delta and alaska. Granted they don’t do inter island but didn’t Hawaiian drive out Aloha Airlines? If you really need to worry about a true monopoly look at HECO as they have most of the islands.

    1. SW is a budget airline without budget prices. Their mainland flights are just as expensive as any other airline but you get poor to nothing service. They’re out of their league being it’s the longest route they fly and it shows. Always dirty bathrooms, that they don’t require the flight attendants to upkeep. (I know becuase I asked SW directly) A nightmare of an experience boarding even if you purchase their business class. SW needs to reimagine thier future in Hawaii. And the people of Hawaii need to realize SW will just choke out the decent airlines and we’ll be stuck paying more for less! Loose money on SW!!Alaska, United, American and Hawaiian offer more value than SW will ever have as a ‘budget’ airline. Please spend your money wisely

    2. GO! did predatory pricing and drive out Aloha, not Hawaiian. Hawaiian actually won $50 million from Mesa airlines, GO!’s parent company.

Scroll to Top