As of 7/11/19, there’s been a schedule delay, some further clarification regarding Max planes and when they might return to the air, and what this all means to future Southwest Hawaii routes. In a nutshell, remaining Southwest Hawaii 2019 plans are now moved into 2020, that after recent news from FAA and Boeing, an additional previously undisclosed issue, and word from international regulators.
This week, Southwest postponed their next schedule announcement for an additional month beyond what was previously announced. Next update is now due on August 15, providing some additional time with hopes of understanding how much longer the aircraft grounding could continue. Last week, Southwest removed the planes from their schedule through October 1. CEO Gary Kelly further acknowledged current issues “will cause us to have to take the MAX out of the schedule beyond Oct. 1” and it remains unclear “what other modifications we might need to make to our plans for this year because it’s obviously extending well beyond what I had hoped.”
Most recently, new undisclosed problems came to light during FAA flight simulations. It is estimated that this latest issue could further delay return to flight by from 30 to 90 days. But it could even be longer. FAA administrator for aviation safety Ali Bahrami said Max planes will fly “when we believe it will be safe.” He did not give a specific time frame, he did say that Boeing CEO’s recent projection of a return to flight by the end of the year seemed correct. Regulators are still debating training for Boeing 737 Max pilots. Last month 33 countries met with Boeing to discuss that situation. Training plus this new problem may ultimately be the determinants of when the planes next fly and more specifically, when more Hawaii routes can commence.
Five problem areas need to be addressed before return to flight.
European aviation regulator (and FAA equivalent) EASA has chimed in on the areas they want to see addressed on the MAX. This is important because it is unlikely that any of these planes will fly before EASA buys off on the resolutions. Those five areas are manual trim wheel improvement, angle of attack sensor reliability, pilot training, flight control computer problem resolution, and autopilot disengage improvement.
More Southwest Hawaii deals lie ahead for late summer and fall.
Yes, we do expect late summer and fall Southwest Hawaii deals on their existing routes. That in part to fill seats, as well as to keep their buzz on Hawaii going.
Why these 34 grounded Max aircraft essential for additional Southwest Hawaii routes.
The next routes that Southwest will announce include flights to and from Kauai, San Diego and Sacramento, plus Kona nonstop flights. Those would have occurred long ago had it not been for the Max crash-related problems which spiraled out of control. While existing Hawaii flights use 737-800 aircraft, Southwest plans to use MAX for future Hawaii flights. At the same time, those 34 out of service aircraft mean that the company has had to put the brakes on expansion plans.
Next Southwest flight schedule update coming August 15 instead of July 10.
For those of you waiting for flights after January 5, the company revised its release date for flights through March 5, 2020. That schedule may again be changed.
Seeking to avoid confusion among passengers.
Southwest has made an update to its in flight passenger safety information, in order to clarify which plane you will be flying on. Previously the company had the same safety card for both 737-800 and 737 MAX aircraft. Since the grounding, that concerned passengers who weren’t clear on which aircraft they were on. Now, the company has created separate safety cards, so that it is clear which type of aircraft you’re traveling on.
Southwest Hawaii Updates as of July 11, 2019
1. When do we expect San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, Lihue and Kona (nonstop) flights be announced plus more inter-island flights?
Our best estimates by route and date are below. The entire Hawaii roll-out, plus subsequent flights from Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver, appears poised to re-commence in early 2020, and will take much longer than the airline had hoped.
2. Are there more $99 airfares ahead?
It may take time and patience for the $99 airfares to return, but return they will. Whenever more flights are announced, Hawaiian Airlines will compete on mainland and inter-island routes and Alaska Airlines will join in as well. At that time, intermittent Hawaii airfares starting at about $100 each way and inter-island fares in the $30’s each way may reoccur.
3. 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 for Southwest Hawaii.
August 15, 2019
✈ Southwest schedule update for flights through March 5, 2020
Next round of announcements by early 2020
✈ 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
Spring to summer 2020
✈ Flights start from Honolulu to Kauai (inter-island only)
✈ Flights start from San Diego to Honolulu and Maui
Later in 2020 to 2021
✈ 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 may start in 2020 or 2021
FYI. Food, drink, entertainment and WiFi on-board.
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 July 11, 2019.