southwest hawaii inter-island

Updated Southwest Hawaii Inter-Island | When It Starts + How It Works

Updated 3/4/19. Southwest Hawaii inter-island Flights were announced today and Southwest Hawaii deals are now available.

News from our sources today on just how and when Southwest inter-island flights will roll out. When we met with Southwest Executive VP Andy Watterson last summer, he said that flights would arrive in Hawaii from the mainland on one day, spend the next flying inter-island and then return to the mainland on the third day. In other words, a three day rotation. Andy recently added, “we see that big (inter-island) market with higher price points and it’s short haul, which is what we’re known for.”

1. When will Southwest Hawaii inter-island start? Flights between Honolulu and Maui will be starting by early April, and will be part of the initial roll-out of Southwest Hawaii flights.

2. Inter-island routes and frequency. We’ve seen indication that inter-island will consist of four to eight flight segments per day, at the beginning. Those will start as flights between Honolulu and Maui, and soon thereafter expand to Kona, Lihue, and then Hilo.

3. Inter-island aircraft. Southwest will use their Boeing 737-800 aircraft for inter-island flights. Those accommodate 175 passengers, or approximately 50 more than Hawaiian Airlines‘ 717’s. In their all-economy configuration, Southwest will have 32 inches of seat pitch in a 3×3 configuration, whereas the Hawaiian fleet has 30-31 inches of pitch in a 3×2 configuration. That information according to Seat Guru.

4. What prices do we expect to see? While Southwest Hawaii inter-island may be a minor component in overall competition, it will still be enough of a force to bring prices down significantly. We will go out on a limb and predict best fares on both carriers could drop to the $39 range.

5. Southwest planes are mainland based. There will not be a separate fleet of aircraft for Hawaii inter-island service, either now or in the future. As a result, no separate Hawaii maintenance or crew base should be required.

One concern a mainland based inter-island fleet raises, is that Southwest inter-island flights might have some degree of reduced punctuality. Should a mainland flight be late, which can happen due to a range of issues including weather, winds, etc., that could impact follow-on inter-island flights. That in contrast to Hawaiian’s huge inter-island fleet that is based here in Hawaii. Those of us who live here, and visitors too, rely on that on-time dependability. One way the initial Southwest schedule appears to deal with that potential issue, is to segregate inter-island flights to be on the 2nd day of the rotation only.

6. Southwest Hawaii personnel. Honolulu and Kahului airports are staffed by Southwest employees. At Lihue and Kona, however, staffing will be a mix of a limited number of Southwest employees with the remainder being contracted from local companies. That is similar to what Alaska Airlines does in Hawaii.

7. Is there any issue with 737’s flying short hop Hawaii inter-island flights? In a nutshell, 737 can easily fly inter-island, it just can’t do it all day, every day, the way the Hawaiian 717 fleet can. This relates to addition engine stress created by these rapid short cycles, especially in our island weather conditions. When we asked Southwest about it last year, they stated emphatically that flying inter-island flights will not be any problem for the 737 fleet. Period. And that’s how we understand it too.

See our latest updates on Southwest Hawaii flights

56 thoughts on “Updated Southwest Hawaii Inter-Island | When It Starts + How It Works”

  1. Traveling to Kauai Jan.19 next year. Any dates yet on when SW will start it’s flights to Hawaii? We’ll be flying out of Alb.,NM.
    Thanks for any help you can give.

  2. We are traveling to Maui in March- from Nashville TN….any advice as to best route to take and best fares? How long to wait out the “sales”..if any, before buying tickets? Thanks for help! Judy

    1. Hi Judy.

      Last part of March is spring break. About $700 on Delta via Seattle is a good price target (not available yet) and connection for early in month. Later in month expect to spend $1,000 to $1,200.


  3. What is the best (least expensive) flight sequences to Hawaii – Maui – Kauai in November 2018? We would fly out of San Diego.



      1. Hi,

        Could you confirm the RT? We’re also flying from SO Cal to Maui. Looking for a family of 3 to fly and seeing the average is about $2,000.00. Does that seem right?

  4. Hi,
    We plan to go to Maui in June 2018. How long do you suggest that we hold off to buy tickets? 2018 for sale- does that mean in January or much later? Thank you for your wonderful information that you share!

    1. Hi Diane.

      Don’t expect SWA by June 2018. There could be other significant fare sales due to Hawaiian’s new planes – that in fact is likely. Can’t say how long you may need to wait to get the best deals.


  5. Happy to see SWA coming to land of Aloha. Just hope they do reduce fairs and as in mainland “no baggage fees”. Maybe the will have to start assigning seats, who knows.

  6. Own MARRIOTT timeshares in Kauai and Maui, ha. We travel to and from Phoenix This is 2-4 times a year. We like Hawaii Airlines because as soon as you board the plane you feel HAWAII. It makes you feel good. So if you could add Hawaii personalization, would be wonderful. I am for trying Southwest as we are members of SWA but they have never gone to Hawaii. WOW great move, looking forward to when and where. THANK YOU

  7. It is my sincere hope that Southwest will find a lucrative market in competitive inter-island travel. The price gouging by the current airline entities has been a long-standing challenge for families living in Hawaii. It’s not just the tourist dollar that is appealing, but also understanding the needs of the people whose jobs are part of the giant machine that runs the tourist industry. If the cost of living becomes too high, the workforce can no longer afford to stay in the islands. Or, unions will continue to negotiate higher wages, which ultimately impacts the cost of a family vacation from the mainland. Residents must travel by inter-island air for health care, household needs, memorial services, weddings, team competitions, and many other essential events. Providing cost effective, dependable flights would provide a huge boost for everyone. Thank you for providing this forum to express another perspective.

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