Updated 5/11/19. News this week that there could still be more delays and headwinds for Southwest Hawaii. That as Max planes face additional scrutiny in the US and Europe. Bloomberg said agencies will “review the Max’s original certification. That work is expected to take three months with initial meetings held in Seattle last week.” And that as we continue to receive many questions about additional Southwest Hawaii flights. We had been told by Southwest that the announcement of flights to and from Kauai, San Diego and Sacramento, plus Kona nonstop flights would occur before the end of April. That didn’t happen as the Max crash-related problems spiraled out of control.
Max Perception Could Impact Future Southwest Hawaii Routes
Will you fly on any airline’s Max aircraft following the Lion Air and Ethiopian 737 Max crashes, once they return to the skies? Consumer willingness to do so is essential to Southwest Hawaii flights. Even though the airline is currently flying only 737-800 to Hawaii, Max is to be their primary Hawaii plane going forward.
Today, Barclay’s investment research said that many passengers will not fly on the 737 Max “for an extended period” following return to flight. “Nearly half won’t fly MAX for year or more.” The company surveyed nearly 2,000 North American and European travelers across age groups, income levels and travel frequency. We don’t know how accurately that survey will pan out, especially when we know there will be $99 Hawaii airfares again. But the question remains, how and where will Southwest bring the Max planes back, and what will the reception be? Your thoughts?
Latest Southwest Hawaii Updates
1. When do we expect San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, Lihue and Kona (nonstop) flights be announced plus more inter-island flights?
As of May 7, it is impossible to anticipate when the next round of Southwest Hawaii flight announcements will occur. Our best guesstimates by route and date, however, are below. The entire Hawaii roll-out, plus subsequent flights from Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver, is obviously poised to take considerably longer than had been expected.
2. Southwest just put the brakes on updated flight schedules.
The company was to release its next schedule for flights from November through January 5, 2020 on May 23. That date was then changed to May 29, and most recently to June 20. The company needs more time to try to determine when the grounded planes will be returned to service. At this point, Southwest has taken Max off their flight schedule through early August.
2. Do more Southwest Hawaii deals lie ahead for summer and fall?
Yes, there will still be late summer and fall deals coming soon.
It may take some time for the $100 airfares to return, but keep in mind we’ve already had two sales of $99 and less one-way fares to Hawaii this year. As soon as more flights are announced, Hawaiian Airlines will compete on mainland and inter-island routes and Alaska Airlines will join in mainland fare wars. At that time, expect intermittent return of mainland to Hawaii fares starting at about $100 each way and inter-island fares in the $30’s each way. For that matter we just had $29 Hawaii inter-island fares in the past week.
3. When will tickets become available for dates beyond November 2, including the holidays?
On June 20, the next Southwest schedule update is “planned.” That will include travel through January 5, 2020 including Hawaii flights.
4. Why aren’t flights bookable from points further east than Denver and when will they be?
That is because Southwest doesn’t have red-eye (overnight) flights. While the airline has talked about changing that, it could be many months to years away. There are logistical and staffing issues, although the airline’s reservation system has been updated to allow for them. When overnight flights start, that should make Hawaii accessible (without multiple tickets and a layover) from points further east across the U.S. CEO Gary Kelly said, “we don’t really desire to fly red-eyes right now…. for our style of operation, it would complicate things.” Red eye flights are used by other airlines flying from Hawaii to enable the long flights and up to 6 time zones between Hawaii and the eastern US.
When you attempt to book city pairs that require two separate SW tickets to Hawaii, you’ll get a message that looks something like this: “Sorry, we found some errors… Flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Honolulu (Oahu) are not scheduled to operate on mm/dd/yy. Please select an alternate date or choose another origination/destination.” That is your cue that two tickets are needed for now.
What’s next, as of May 7, 2019
May 12, 2019
✈ Inter-island flights between Honolulu and Kona start
✈ Flights between Oakland and Kona start (connecting service)
✈ Flights between San Jose and Kona start (connecting service)
May 26, 2019
✈ Flights between San Jose and Maui start
June 20, 2019
✈ Southwest schedule update for flights through January 5, 2020
By end of summer 2019
✈ Flight announcements from Sacramento to Honolulu and Maui with flight commencement
✈ Flight announcements from Honolulu to Kauai
✈ Flight announcements from San Diego to Honolulu and Maui
✈ Southwest 737 Max 8 returns to service
Before end of 2019
✈ Flights start from Honolulu to Kauai (inter-island only)
✈ Flights start from San Diego to Honolulu and Maui
✈ Flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu and Maui
✈ Flights non-stop to Kona
✈ Flights from Honolulu and Maui to Hilo
✈ Flights from Phoenix, Las Vegas, non-stop to Hilo and later Denver to Hawaii starting 2020 or after
Food, drink, entertainment and WiFi on-board Southwest Hawaii flights.
Southwest is offering free food in the form of two snack services that is being well received. One soon after take-off and another two hours before landing, much like the snack boxes SWA had on longer flights years ago. The main post-departure service features a snack bag that includes crackers, pretzels, cheese spread, Tic-Tacs and fruit snacks. The second service consists of Pepperidge Farm cookies. There is no other food for sale so if snacks aren’t your thing, be sure to have food with you before boarding.
2. Hawaii-style beverages.
Island drink offerings include pineapple/orange juice, Kona Longboard beer and Blue Chair Bay (Caribbean) rum.
3. Entertainment. The SWA inflight entertainment portal is active on Hawaii flights. That includes flight tracker, gate information, games, free live TV, on-demand TV, free movies and messaging.
4. WiFi on Hawaii flights. The airline is offering $8 Wi-Fi for the entire flight. Southwest satellite Wi-Fi on Hawaii flights provides gate to gate connectivity. Just don’t forget a charger/battery pack, as their aircraft do not have any charging capability.
Two free checked bags.
No seat assignments.
$25 Early Bird Check-in provides the option of automatic check-in before the 24-hour check-in and offers an earlier boarding position for a better chance of seat selection and access to overhead storage.
Updated May 7, 2019. Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines.