Southwest Drops 10 Hawaii Routes | Fare War Starts | Expedia Out

Southwest Drops 10 Hawaii Routes | Fare War Starts | Expedia Out

One small consolation amid burgeoning Hawaii vacation costs is that some airfares will remain suppressed for the foreseeable future due to fierce and unending, multi-faceted competition between Southwest Airlines, bellwether Hawaiian Airlines, and others. But that’s just the beginning of the news, as there’s also a significant shift in Southwest’s Hawaii focus that’s in process. Plus, you won’t find some of Hawaiian Air’s flights on Expedia any longer.

Southwest drops 10 routes. Mainland to Hawaii cut 38% from the peak.

While their flights in Hawaii are expanding, Southwest is cutting back significantly on its flight schedule between the US mainland and Hawaii. They will operate just 23 daily flights, which is down from their previous high of 37 Hawaii flights.

Flights that are canceled include:

  • Los Angeles to Kauai
  • Los Angeles to Kona
  • Phoenix to Kauai
  • Phoenix to Kona
  • Sacramento to Kauai
  • Sacramento to Kona
  • Sacramento to Maui
  • San Diego to Kauai
  • San Diego to Kona
  • San Diego to Maui

$39 airfares guaranteed through December or longer.

While Hawaii airfare sales have traditionally been for reasonably short periods and don’t cover holidays and weekends, that has also changed. Here’s what’s going on.

$39 airfares are valid every day on every interisland flight on Southwest Airlines and most days and flights at Hawaiian Airlines. This comes as Southwest adds a ton of new interisland flights and is poised for head-to-head combat with Hawaiian. Southwest’s lineup includes:

  • 5 flights a day, each way, from Honolulu to Hilo.
  • 6 flights a day, each way, from Honolulu to Kauai.
  • 6 flights a day, each way, from Honolulu to Kona.
  • 11 flights a day, each way, from Honolulu to Maui.
  • 1 flight a day, each way, from Maui to Kauai.

Hawaiian Air joined Southwest in pulling interisland flights from Expedia.

If you ever looked for Hawaiian Air interisland fights on Expedia, don’t bother now. The airline has removed those flights, and the result is you won’t be able to search or book there. Priceline and Booking, however, have struck a marketing deal with Hawaiian, so you will still find Hawaiian Air’s interisland fights there. Southwest also does not permit booking through these online travel agencies. The only Hawaiian interisland flights found will be those that are code-share ones associated with other airlines.

How Southwest Hawaii hones its chops at Hawaiian Airlines.

Southwest’s Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer Andy Watterson came to Southwest directly from Hawaiian Airlines. He is responsible for Southwest’s network planning, marketing, revenue management, and pricing, among other things. Andy is a large part of the fast-changing Southwest Hawaii plan.

Andy was previously VP of Planning and Revenue Management at Hawaiian. He said recently that Southwest’s goal right now is to get people here in Hawaii to understand Southwest better so that they will choose them for future flights. That says that while Southwest is a strong choice for its California frequent flyers, it is far less true of those of us who live in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Air “to Mahalo Members with Double Hawaiian Miles.”

Hawaiian is taking this competition very seriously. One added thing they’re doing is to offer double Hawaiian miles on every interisland flight through 2022. The only thing here is that getting 200 miles instead of 100 miles only amounts to $1 in additional value based on the traditional one cent per mile. For long-term Hawaiian Air travelers, you will remember that the airline once offered a minimum of 500 miles for interisland flights.

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49 thoughts on “Southwest Drops 10 Hawaii Routes | Fare War Starts | Expedia Out”

  1. We are planning a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii in February, do you forsee any flight sales in the near future? We’ve been waiting to book our airfare but not sure if we should just book now or wait a bit longer.

  2. Just curious, do Southwest inter-island flights operate out of the inter-island terminal at HNL like Hawaiian does? We’ll be needing inter-island from HNL and normally have to trek to the inter-island terminal, but might consider Southwest depending on where they operate from.

    Mahalo, BOH!

    1. Southwest is now flying from the ‘E” concourse, which is the “Y” shaped entranceto the gate, in the middle of the airport.

      Whe they started flying to HI, they flew out of ground level gate at the far end of the airport,near United.

      Mahalo, David

        1. It’s interesting that the airport website shows WN using the “G” gates still. WN’s website shows current arrival using gate E1-F7 for the last several weeks.

          Of course, the airport website also shows AA using “E” gates when they’ve been using “C” and “D” gates since at least last October, when we flew though HNL last.

          We’ll be through HNL at the end of August; can report then.

          Mahalo, David

          1. The misinformation from Honolulu Airport shows a lackluster responsiveness in real-time updating to assist passengers, it hardly surprises me. I have been noticing that certain employees, a very small amount, are about as friendly and helpful as Russians are to the Ukraine. That’s not an exaggeration but a simple fact that we have experienced the past several flights. Those few are a part of the many employees that Represent Hawaii as a whole and are the first impressions everyone sees deplaning and experiencing the lengthy walk to Baggage. Hawaii can do better, why have a Tourism Budget when you allow Anti-Tourist employees greet them first? Do Better!

  3. From this Sacramento customer to Southwest “boo hiss.” No fair Sacramento area customers have to connect in Honolulu or (shudder) drive to a bay area airport. No offense meant to either, but at my age last thing I want is a stressful drive to the airport and/or a tight connection. Or a long layover to avoid a tight connection.

    1. I have been on many non-stop flights from SMF to OGG most were full, so why are they doing this?
      I will be flying Hawaiian now.

  4. Southwest went against their usual model of being the lowest cost of the non-budget airlines and chose to take advantage of the ability to charge more and ended up being higher than even Hawaiian Airlines for a flight over the Thanksgiving holiday week, at $1,500. I was one of those who opted to wait until the release date for fares covering that week, and when it became apparent that my previous target of $800 (slightly lower than my all-time high of $900 from Thanksgiving 2015) wasn’t going to happen, I went crawling back to Hawaiian Airlines to book for $1,139 for my group of 12. Surprisingly, that was a slight drop and the price has not fallen back to that level since for the first flight out of LA the Saturday before the holiday week.

  5. I always flew Alaska from San Diego to Hawaii until Southwest came into the market. However after booking a nonstop flight on Southwest to Kauai, only to be rerouted to a connecting flight at the height of the summer when fares were high, having to go backwards to Las Vegas, my usual 5 hour trip became a 12 hour trip. I travel to Maui as well, and now they just pulled those trips too. They have completely lost my business, and I will go back to Alaska. It is not worth losing 2 full days of my trip to travel–I might as well go to Europe! Foolish on their part to not keep at least Maui. Hope the inter island business is enough for them. Can’t imagine any California residents wanting to take a connecting flight.

  6. Let’s be very clear here, this is a very aggressive large mainland company trying to take advantage of a smaller local company and siphon resources from Hawaii’s economy and take it home to Texas. Simple as that. But local, fly local.

    1. Business is business. When Aloha and Go! were around, where were the locals when HA and Go! did Aloha dirty? And after Aloha and Go! left, HA jacked up airfares. Completely their right so they can try to make money right? Cuz business is business! Same thing here, the biggest and strongest survive. SW has been around for a long time and has been profitable for the majority of its existence. If it wasn’t them, then someone else would have challenged HA at some point. It’s too bad HA never expanded outside of Hawaii to grow its business and be profitable. They are a money losing company with loads of debt. They became too overly Hawaii-centric and should have expanded elsewhere sooner — so that they could be profitable enough to compete.

      1. Sorry but the thumbs down from the SWA supporters is also an indication of what SWA brings to Hawaii. Not appreciating the local airline is another example of not respecting Hawaii. SWA does in fact take from our economy and pockets it in the mainland.
        That said competition isn’t bad per se, the ideal situation is HA will match their deal and you can support Hawaii by flying on them. I actually remember $9.95 inter island fares when their was HA, Aloha and Mid Pacific back in the 80’s…I guess with inflation this is about the same.

        1. Seems that JOHNW has always had a bone to pick with SWA. What about Delta, United, American, and Alaskan? Do they also take from “our economy” and pocket it “in the mainland”? HA has done more than its share of damage to consumers over the years as well.

          1. Curtis, I live in Hawaii and Hawaiian is our hometown airline and has served the State well. I don’t appreciate the fact that SWA uses their large size to grab market share by flooding a market with cheap fares, then gradually raising them, as is their way of growing. You think the TSA lines in OGG are bad now? Try wait, SWA doesn’t care about Hawaii, they care about SWA .

    2. Please know business is business. When Aloha and Go! were around, where were the locals when HA and Go! did Aloha dirty? And after Aloha and Go! left, HA jacked up airfares. Completely their right so they can try to make $ right? Cuz business is business. Same thing here, the biggest and strongest survive. SW has been around for a long time and has been profitable for the majority of its existence. If it wasn’t them, then someone else would have challenged HA at some point. It’s too bad HA never expanded outside of Hawaii to grow its business and be profitable, so that they could effectively compete in situations like now. Instead, they are a money losing company with loads of debt due to their lack of expansion outside of Hawaii.

  7. Southwest is making a mistake and the Kauai, The Big Island, and to a degree Maui will pay the price as no one wants to fly 5 to 6 hours and have to spend another 2 to 3 hours taking another plane to the other islands. Pathetic decision.

    1. Southwast can’t afford to fly underperforming flights to the other islands. These are long flights that take up significant resouces.

        1. That is what I just said, big mistake on their part. I will always choose non-stop flight or Alaska through Seattle.

    2. Please understand that locals were upset that SW was flying in more mainlanders causing overcrowding (even though all the other airlines added flights and flew bigger wide bodies to Hawaii than before at the same time). And now that they’re cutting mainland flights and increasing interisland, it’s a bad thing? Perhaps this is Southwest trying to right size capacity with demand and concentrate more on local Hawaii point of sale while still offering mainland customers access to HI.

    3. I dunno, folks. I mean it’s pretty clear that since Andy Watterson came from Hawaiian Air and developed this interisland strategy then Southwest has Hawaii business in mind more than mainland. All the major carriers have a flight here so execs can ride free, but to give Hawaiians and tourists quality service without regular cancelled /consolidated flights that also don’t make you spend half a day at each airport is something we deserve .

      1. At these inter-island fares and with both the HA and SWA slights not being totally full, there’s no way that either of them are making a profit on these inter-island flights. With $39 fares, some of which covers airport fees, etc., the airline is probably getting less than $25 and that’s before their expenses. At this rate there are three likely outcomes for us in Hawaii:
        1) SWA gets tired of using these flights as a loss-leader and reduces capacity, allowing HA to increase fares to cover their costs
        2) SWA bleeds HA until HA shuts down their inter-island flights. No doubt SWA has deeper pockets than HA. SWA then increases fares to cover their costs.
        3) Someone buys HA or at least HA’s inter-island business.

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