Updated 4/05/20 3am HST. Today Southwest Hawaii flights were cancelled through at least June 4. The only exceptions are “essential flights” referenced below. Flights are now set to resume between June 5 and June 6, depending on route. Prior to this latest update, Southwest said flights were only scheduled to be off through May 2.
Keep in mind that if you have reservations for cancelled flights between now and then, in addition to refunds being available (for any cancelled domestic flight), Southwest routinely has no change or cancellation fees.
The flights that are still operating between now and June include only limited service between Oakland and Honolulu and even less frequently between Oakland and Maui. They are also continuing to provide twice daily inter-island flights for critical travel from Honolulu to Hilo, Kona, and Kauai. They will also fly three times daily from Honolulu to Maui.
The interim schedule is “intended to be temporary and nimble,” so is subject to additional change.
Will Southwest Hawaii expansion ever resume? If so, what cities do we expect to see added.
Even when the current crisis abates, Southwest Hawaii expansion remains unsure. It has also been limited by ongoing grounding of their Max 8 fleet consisting of 34 planes. That problem too will eventually come to an end, and those planes may return to service later this year.
At this point, Southwest has cancelled the return of Max on their schedule through August 10. Until those planes return, Southwest will be using 737-800 planes for Hawaii flights.
The latest problem for that Max fleet relates to critical component wiring. Boeing recently indicated that it will be modifying certain wiring of the Max fleet. The FAA and the aircraft manufacturer began reviewing a potential issue which might have led to a short circuit or worse. FAA said it had rejected Boeing’s suggestion to leave those suspect wiring bundles in place.
If and when Hawaii expansion resumes, following is our list of possible expansion cities, in the order of likelihood: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Burbank, Salt Lake City, Spokane, and Albuquerque.
When will Holiday 2020 travel be available for reservations.
Southwest has indicated as of 4/5/20 that on May 28, reservations will be open through January 4, 2021. That date is subject to change.
How was Southwest Hawaii doing before this crisis?
All bets are off in regards to the airline industry at the moment, and that includes Southwest. While we have every reason to believe that the company is happy with their Hawaii service up until now, they, like the other airlines, will be regrouping and taking a breath, once flights resume.
Previously, Andy Watterson, SWA Executive VP and the brains of their Hawaii service noted that they are running about a year behind where they originally expected to be. And that even before the current situation threw a wrench into travel. He also said, “We are very bullish in Hawaii.” The company was clearly pleased with how existing and new customers are responding to their Hawaii flights. Trans-Pacific has exceeded their expectations to date and flights were flying full. The length of time typically required to achieve market penetration was greatly reduced due to the pent up demand for Cheap Flights to Hawaii.
Complete schedule of Southwest Hawaii routes and intended frequencies once flights resume:
OAKLAND: Honolulu (2 daily); Maui (2 daily); Kona (1 daily); Kauai (1 daily).
SAN JOSE: Honolulu (1 daily); Maui (1 daily); Kona (1 daily); Lihue (1 daily).
SACRAMENTO: Honolulu (1 daily); Maui (1 daily).
SAN DIEGO: Honolulu (1 daily); Maui (1 daily).
HONOLULU: Oakland (2 daily); San Jose (1 daily) Sacramento (1 daily); San Diego (1 daily); Interisland: Maui, Kona, Lihue, Hilo (each 4 daily).
MAUI: Oakland (2 daily); San Jose (1 daily); Sacramento (1 daily); San Diego (1 daily); Interisland: Honolulu (4 daily), Kona (1 daily).
KONA: Oakland (1 daily); San Jose (1 daily); Interisland: Honolulu (4 daily); Maui (1 daily).
KAUAI: Oakland (1 daily); San Jose (1 daily); Interisland: Honolulu (4 daily).
HILO: Interisland: Honolulu (4 daily).
Note 1. 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.
Note 2. All Southwest Hawaii flights can be changed at no cost.
At this time, SWA has no change fees or cancellation fees. Also, if fares drop, you can re-book and credit the difference back to your account for future travel.
Note 3. Always check Southwest to see if fare gets better.
Remember that with Southwest, you can get a credit for any fare difference should the price go down once you’ve booked.