Updated 1/18/20. New Southwest Hawaii flights start tomorrow, summer travel is on sale, Max aircraft return has been delayed again, and we’ll address key concerns and questions on what is next.
1. Kauai and Kona have new routes that start January 19, 2020. See below.
2. When will Southwest Hawaii expansion resume? Read what cities we expect to see added.
3. Summer 2020 is starting at $189 each way on Southwest. Are you planning to book soon?
4. When will flights beyond August 10 become bookable? We have the answer.
5. Southwest basic economy. Is it happening and if so, how will it compete with offerings from Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines?
6. Complete schedule of Southwest Hawaii routes and frequencies effective April 2020.
7. Are there going to be more $99 airfares?
New flights starting January 19, 2020.
Tomorrow, Southwest will begin their first flights between Oakland and Kona and between San Jose and Lihue. These long awaited additions together with those upcoming within the next two months, round out the complete schedule that Southwest had initially envisioned for Hawaii. See full schedule below.
“The Hawaiian Islands continue to be an in-demand destination year-round from Silicon Valley, and we are pleased that Southwest Airlines has responded by adding service to meet our community’s needs. That according to John Aitken, SJC Director of Aviation.
When will Southwest Hawaii expansion resume and what cities do we expect to see added.
Andy Watterson, SWA Executive VP and the brains of their Hawaii service recently noted that they are running about a year behind where they originally expected to be. He also said, “We are very bullish in Hawaii.” The company is pleased with how existing and new customers are responding to their Hawaii flights. Trans-Pacific has exceeded their expectations to date and flights are flying full. The length of time typically required to achieve market penetration that has been greatly reduced due to the pent up demand for Cheap Flights to Hawaii.
Following is our list of possible expansion cities, in the order of likelihood:
Salt Lake City
Summer 2020 starting at $189 each way on Southwest.
We are seeing peak of summer prices starting from $189 to $209 each way on most routes from the west coast. That’s a great price for June until August travel and represents a savings of nearly 50% off traditional summer prices! Will prices go even lower? It is possible, but there are no guarantees.
Hawaiian Airlines has been releasing on-again, off-again competitive airfares starting at just $205 each way during peak of summer!
When will flights beyond August 10 be bookable.
Southwest Hawaii expansion will remain limited for some time due to the ongoing grounding of their Max 8 fleet consisting of 34 planes. That problem will eventually come to an end, as those planes may return to service by this summer. At this point, Southwest has cancelled the return of Max on their schedule through June 6. Until those planes return, Southwest is using 737-800 planes for Hawaii flights.
Southwest’s flights can currently be booked through August 10. If you plan to book travel starting August 11, you’ll now need to wait until March 12, when Southwest opens their schedule through October 31, 2020. Southwest only allows reservations up to about six months in advance of travel. Other airlines permit reservations up to 11 months in advance.
Will Southwest basic economy be next?
We are continuing to hear that Southwest is very seriously considering a basic economy offering of some type. The recent survey from Southwest asked travelers about a new level of service (presumably basic economy). If Southwest does offer such a new fare, we would expect to see either the reduction (or elimination) of free bags, free changes to tickets, or both. For more information, see our guide to basic economy to Hawaii.
Complete schedule of Southwest Hawaii routes and frequencies effective April 2020:
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).
More Southwest Hawaii deals are clearly just ahead!
Are there going to be more $99 airfares?
Yes, $99 fares will be back and we expect ultra-low airfares to keep returning intermittently. When more flights are announced, Hawaiian Airlines will compete on mainland and inter-island routes and Alaska Airlines (which recently had $77 Hawaii airfares) will join in as well. At that time, intermittent Hawaii airfares starting at below $100 each way and inter-island fares in the $30’s each way may reoccur. 2020 will have some of best ever Cheap Flights to Hawaii.
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.
Updated January 16, 2020.