Updated: Southwest Testing Red-Eye Flights to Hawaii Amid Growing Trend

If you haven’t noticed, overnight flights from Hawaii are all the rage. And there has only been one holdout of all the airlines in that regard, which is Southwest. But not for much longer.

Many Southwest Hawaii travelers have been asking for these, even as some of you will say red-eye flights just aren’t for you. We’ll add that while we don’t like them, sometimes there aren’t any alternatives since more and more Hawaii to mainland routes are being operated overnight. So we’re stuck. Editors are flying to the mainland in a few days, and the only flight that works for us departs Hawaii after 10 pm. Ouch.

Southwest will test-drive overnight Hawaii flights.

Now Southwest has come forth with more definitive information about their future red-eye flights, one focus of which will definitely be Hawaii, as we’d previously indicated.

Ryan Green, Southwest’s Chief Commercial Officer, said that the first test flights will emanate from both Hawaii and Las Vegas. How soon this will happen will be based on their overcoming certain technical and workforce issues.

Southwest said they would like to start with 50 red-eye flights per day system-wide at the outset. The company is seeking to achieve, among other things, greater operational efficiency.

Previously, CEO Bob Jordan had said, “We have the aircraft, it’s a great way to use an asset that you already have and use it more productively, which means more hours in the day. So, we will be doing red-eyes.

People have been asking when we can expect to see the launch of these Southwest red-eye flights from Hawaii to the mainland. The only information that’s been released thus far is according to The Washington Post, which reported it may still be a few years out before that occurs. Our take is that Hawaii will be tried sooner as a test-drive, within the next two years or so.

For those of us who desire them, as well as the rest of us who sometimes have no choices, overnight flights from Hawaii can extend your Hawaii vacation by an average of 15% compared with flying back during daytime hours. That’s huge. They are also cost-sparing since, for one thing, you can skip one night’s hotel cost, which in Hawaii is a big expense.

Overnight or red-eye flights from Hawaii are, if nothing else, time efficient.

Travelers can enjoy a full last day in Hawaii and sleep (or not) during the flight back, arriving on the mainland early the next morning, prepared for the day ahead. This is especially helpful for travelers trying to squeeze the most out of limited vacation time before returning to work.

The time zone difference between Hawaii and the mainland also plays a significant role. Departing from Hawaii in the late evening allows passengers to land on the mainland in the morning, depending on the destination. This scheduling seems to help mitigate jet lag, as many of you have reported it easier to adjust than when flying from Hawaii during the day.

Moreover, the benefits of red-eye Hawaii flights are multi-faceted.

Overnight flights will offer lower fares when compared to daytime flights to the same destination due to decreased demand. This pricing appeals to budget-conscious Hawaii travelers looking to save on airfare. That, plus the savings of one night’s accommodations, is a significant advantage.

Another benefit is that roads and airports in Hawaii aren’t as busy at night, making for easier car rental return, faster security, and check-in. There’s also the possibility (we can only hope) that red-eye flights from Hawaii won’t be as fully booked as daytime flights.

How well do you handle Hawaii red-eye flights?

For those who can somehow get some sleep during a red-eye flight, red-eyes offer other advantages. For us, traveling beyond the west coast is easy when arriving there early in the morning. Otherwise, another night would be required before heading further east.

We have long-accepted that for flights from Hawaii to the east coast, red-eye flights can’t be avoided. For West Coast travelers, it used to be a matter of personal preference. Now, however, more and more flights are shifting to overnight, largely for the airlines’ efficiency.

Are you taking red-eye flights from Hawaii?

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21 thoughts on “Updated: Southwest Testing Red-Eye Flights to Hawaii Amid Growing Trend”

  1. We’ve done the red-eye several times but no more. We would fly non-stop into PHX on a red-eye that would arrive around 5am. Then we faced a two hour drive to Tucson/home, which felt dangerous. Now we fly into LAX, have a relaxing evening at one of the airport hotels, then take a late morning flight to Tucson. Very civilized! I also don’t miss checking out at 10am and having a whole day to get hot, sweaty, and ugly before getting on a plane late at night! I think the red-eyes are for people in their 20s!

  2. We do not like these red eye flights at all. Getting to the mainland mid morning to noon the next day leaves one exhausted and takes another day to recover.
    Trying to find a day flight from any outer island, is impossible and flying over to Oahu to get a morning flight, requires one to go the day before and either spend the night in the airport or book a room for the night to get the morning flight.
    And spending your last day here in the islands, having to check out of your room at 10 or 11 AM and storing your luggage while you try and believe you are enjoying your last day on the island is not as enjoyable as on might think.
    We just want to get on home after our week or 2 weeks here in islands

  3. Most Westjet flights are redeye, going to and from Hawaii. We save one night of accommodation, or gain one day in paradise, at the end of the vacation. But we arrive in the dark (on an airplane that will soon turn around and fly the redye tourists home) and have to spring for a full day hotel to spend a few night-time hours in paradise.

    The airlines give and the airlines take away . . .

  4. I try a red eye about once every 4 years, swear I will never do it again, and then……… The next red eye I get more than 2 hours sleep will be the first! It is a good way to maximize your stay, but not worth the two days catching up in my opinion. It could work very well for Southwest, especially since they serve three flight restricted (curfewed) airports in Southern California.

  5. After my 200 red-eye flights the last 40 years, I’ve had it. Hate that “night of the living dead” feeling, it’s not safe to drive on arrival, and that whole first day back on the mainland is Zombie-like. I’d fly any airline Not doing red-eye flights. They “above & beyond” horrible !

  6. Took an overnight flight on WestJet from Maui to Calgary. I can’t sleep on planes so not the greatest experience. I had to check out of my airbnb at 10:00 and flight was at midnight would have preferred afternoon flight but a lot of Canadian flights are getting later.

  7. I’ve always had to take a nonstop redeye back to the SE, long flight and even in biz/first it’s hard to get sleep and then face a 2 hour drive back home after an early am arrival. I’m booked on Hawaiian’s early am flight to LAS this May, stop for a couple night visiting friends, then continuing on SW better acclimated time and rest wise.

    Best Regards!

  8. There’s also another, far more practical reason for red-eye flights… onward connections.

    A large portion of Hawaii visitors are not originating at the airline’s gateway, and are connecting from another city. Heading back to the continent, time zones work against you. A morning departure from Hawaii will arrive on the West Coast late afternoon / early evening. There are only so many onward connections you can possibly make. For direct flights to mountain and midwest cities, you have even fewer onward connecting options.

    An overnight flight from Hawaii will reach the West Coast in the morning, and from there, you can make virtually every onward connection.

    1. Hopefully you can get halfway decent sleep.

      Continuing the voyage when you’re Rob Zombie can’t be very enjoyable!

  9. Red eye flights are great if non responsible patents can control their crying / screaming children ! I used to love them but parents are so out of control . Red eye fights should be for adults only . Only if that was possible . Hard when you can’t sleep !

  10. Have never left Hawaii on a flight that was not a red-eye. But it’s true about the extra time. Just booked our trip for June and at first we were having to fly from KOA to HNL and literally sit in the airport all day to leave on a flight at 4pm. But now, we were able to book a 9:50pm departure to Seattle and then connect to Atlanta. Mind you, with a 36 minute connection time in Seattle and the previous experience of our flight always leaving late from KOA, we expect some airport time in SEA with a missed connection.

  11. We loved red-eyes from OGG to mainland so we can stay all day. Resorts are always happy to accommodate by holding luggage, parking, etc. Then have dinner and sunset at a favorite restaurant. Then hit OGG and head home. Downsides: To be polite we shower at the pool (not exactly kosher), the car is filled with luggage when we dine out (theft target), and sleeping on a plane is not easy for us – We are always gassed our first day home. Consequently we just pay the extra night a head home without being sleep deprived.

  12. So the the headline states “Southwest Testing Red-Eye Flights to Hawaii Amid Growing Trend” when the article is talking about red eyes From Hawaii…
    That’s a huge difference.

  13. Not a fan of red-eyes. I know some people can sleep well on an overnight flight but I’m not one of them.

    Our local airport is MSN but our Hawaii trips have originated from ORD. Not only much better fares but better flight choices. Flying out of there does entail an overnight park/sleep/fly, but we both prefer to sleep in a motel vs. trying to sleep on a flight or in an airport terminal.

    1. I have done red-eye flights in the past, west to east coast and even Europe, but not being one of those people who can sleep very well sitting up, I tend to spend the day I arrive sort of in a sleep walking phase. Though being able to spend a little bit more time in Hawaii would be nice.

  14. We’ve always taken United’s red-eye from Kauai back to Denver, landing around 5:30AM, which is nice because we can spend a full last day on the island. The flight has been packed every trip. It can be brutal in economy however, especially since United changed their economy seating with shorter pitch to fit in extra rows and seats with much less cushioning. We did do a day flight to San Francisco one trip however, stayed overnight in a wonderful B&B on Monterey Bay, then flew to Denver. Time and cost-wise however, it was to no benefit.

    1. Not a fan of red-eyes but I did have one flight out of HNL on AA where I upgraded to a lie flat seat. Slept comfortably almost all the way to DFW. I can do that but you still have to deal with the 5 hours of jet lag when you get to Texas.

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