Hawaii Fails To Make Conde Naste Traveler Popular Destination List

Three Airlines Fast-Chopping Hawaii Routes In Shakeup

At least five mainland cities have been left reeling from a pullback in Hawaii flights from coast to coast. Sacramento, for one, is a popular west coast gateway to Hawaii and, until recently, had many nonstop flight options from Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. But no more. Oakland also lost a big Hawaii player last year, while recently expanded Long Beach to Hawaii routes have just contracted. And there’s more.

The situation in the Hawaii airline business has nearly as many twists and turns as does the Road to Hana (600 turns), pictured above. Please give us and the airlines who all read your comments, your feedback below.

Hawaiian Airlines eliminated these routes.

In March, Hawaiian said they would start Oakland to Kona flights this summer. At the time, these were set to operate from June 15 through September 6. On checking today, however, we no longer find any nonstop flights on that route from Hawaiian. The company last tried that route back in 2016.

Once Southwest Airlines leaves the route, Hawaiian will be the only service between Long Beach and Maui.

The route from Orlando to Honolulu will terminate on September 4. The route announced in December 2020 started in March 2021. We suggested that without a strategic alliance, routes such as that are challenging for any airline.

We do believe more changes are afoot in Hawaiian’s route map.

Southwest Hawaii routes terminated: a long list.

We reported last week that the following Southwest Hawaii nonstop routes were all terminated, and there’s even an addition we noted since then, listed below. This is a significant about-face for the airline, which became laser-focused on its Hawaii expansion in the past couple of years.

  • Long Beach to Maui
  • Los Angeles to Kauai
  • Los Angeles to Kona
  • Phoenix to Kauai
  • Phoenix to Kona
  • Sacramento to Kauai
  • Sacramento to Kona
  • Sacramento to Maui
  • San Diego to Kauai
  • San Diego to Kona
  • San Diego to Maui

At the same time, Southwest decided to jump more squarely into interisland competition with Hawaiian Air.

Alaska Airlines first started pulling back on Hawaii flights during Covid.

Anchorage to Honolulu. Alaska announced in April 2022 that the popular route was suspended from June until November. We do see it returning to their schedule starting November 17. But at that time, it is set to be a seasonal-only route operating until April 1.

Alaska’s contraction started concurrently with Southwest’s arrival in Hawaii, which anyone would have predicted. It began with the elimination of  Sacramento to Kona. That once popular flight which commenced in 2018, was terminated in 2020. At about the same time, Alaska pulled Sacramento to Maui.

Oakland to Hawaii flights. Last year Alaska also stopped Hawaii flights from convenient Oakland. That was a route that Beat of Hawaii editors both miss personally. At the time, Alaska moved its focus to San Francisco and San Jose. Southwest Airlines is the driving force at Oakland Airport, including its Hawaii flights. Hawaiian Airlines also serves Oakland.

And your insightful comments about Hawaii routes being canceled.

Lori: I always flew Alaska from San Diego to Hawaii until Southwest came into the market. However after booking a nonstop flight on Southwest to Kauai, only to be rerouted to a connecting flight at the height of the summer when fares were high, having to go backwards to Las Vegas, my usual 5 hour trip became a 12 hour trip. I travel to Maui as well, and now they just pulled those trips too. They have completely lost my business, and I will go back to Alaska. It is not worth losing 2 full days of my trip to travel–I might as well go to Europe! Foolish on their part to not keep at least Maui. Hope the inter island business is enough for them. Can’t imagine any California residents wanting to take a connecting flight.

Don: Southwest is making a mistake and the Kauai, The Big Island, and to a degree Maui will pay the price as no one wants to fly 5 to 6 hours and have to spend another 2 to 3 hours taking another plane to the other islands. Pathetic decision.

Richard: For us who fly out of Sacramento, Southwest entering service to Hawaii has actually cost us several direct flights from other carriers and now they’re dropping their direct flights. Feels like Sacramento has stepped back 20 years in time when it comes to traveling to Hawaii. Hopefully, a carrier like Alaska can reinstate their direct flight to Maui from Sacramento which they dropped after Southwest entered the market.

Amanda: We flew Alaska from Sacramento to Maui many times…flights always seemed full! We were so disappointed when they discontinued that flight. And now SWA!

Charlotte: From this Sacramento customer to Southwest “boo hiss.” No fair Sacramento area customers have to connect in Honolulu or (shudder) drive to a bay area airport. No offense meant to either, but at my age last thing I want is a stressful drive to the airport and/or a tight connection. Or a long layover to avoid a tight connection.

Kelly: I have been on many non-stop flights from SMF to OGG most were full, so why are they doing this?
I will be flying Hawaiian now.

What’s your take on the fast-changing situation?


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86 thoughts on “Three Airlines Fast-Chopping Hawaii Routes In Shakeup”

  1. Most likely that pent up demand thing is coming to an end. The price rises were just too steep for most people to live with and airlines don’t like to fly empty planes.

    1. A few times we were booked on a wide body, United, and due to snow and ice storms incoming flights never landed on time. Imagine 17 people on the entire plane, First Class had Ten Passengers while Seven People had the Rest of the Plane. Pulled up the seat arms and had a Wonderful Sleep most of the way to Oahu!

  2. We used to fly directly from Portland to Lihue and back, but that flight was canceled and we had to fly to Seattle and change planes recently, which gives Alaska another chance to lose our luggage, although they didn’t.
    They have eliminated most of the direct flights to Maui, also, which is sad. Direct flights to both islands and back were always full before.

    BOH, do you think that will change in the future once this mass of tourists flooding Hawai’i calms down, or is this a permanent thing? We’ve been going to Kaua’i for years and have never seen it so crowded. Our family who lives there said it was famine before, but now it’s feast, with some unintended consequences.


    1. Hi Nancy.

      Not sure which change you’re asking about? The consolidation flights or the elimination of the PDX-LIH nonstop. If it is that flight, then it will be back at least starting the end of November.


  3. We’ve never taken a non-stop to Kauai. No matter whether we left from LA, Las Vegas or Phoenix (our usual for the last # of years), we always had a stopover in Honolulu. We actually enjoy it – it breaks up the sitting and gives us time to have lunch (on the way over) or breakfast (on the way back). We’ve never missed a non-stop so we won’t miss it now! (We’ve always flown Hawaiian since about 1997.)

    1. I agree the stopover was nice when we did fly Hawaiian now it is a plane change in Las Vegas still a full day in each direction and more leg room on Southwest.

  4. This has more to do with airline staffing than lack of business. Just look at all the airline complaints this summer. Do you want bad service or good service? Unfortunately until the staffing issues subside,Hawaii won’t be the only area to suffer.

  5. Still disappointed that Alaska pulled out of Oakland. Neither SFO or SJC is convenient from where we live. We took many flights on Alaska from Oakland to Kona. SWA does not have convenient times, nor the same in-flight experience as Alaska.

  6. Changes on everything now is the norm. My burning question is what is it Really like flying from LAX to HNL on Southwest? I can’t imagine.

  7. Echoing all the Sacramento to Hawaii comments. It’s so convenient to fly out of Sacramento and it looks like all of the nonstop flights are gone. We have a toddler amd it’s silly for us to drive down the the bay area and stay in a hotel to be up super early. My question is can Honolulu airport handle being a hub for all the layovers?

    1. HNL has been an international hub for decades (almost since inception actually), it can handle a few extra mainland flights – especially with the newly expanded interisland terminal, interisland flights are once again plentiful.

  8. We always fly Hawaiian Air. They have always been on time and have a great crew. Until a few years ago it was a common thing to land in honolulu then shuttle to Maui. We are now spoiled and hope Hawaiian Air benefits from the loss.

  9. I have to laugh. Hawaiians wanted less tourists. Airlines are listening. Hawaiians don’t want you there. Find other places to go. They will be happy. You will be happy. The Airlines will be happy to cut more routes. Once again, good luck Hawaii. Your economy thanks only you.

    1. Do you really think that airlines care about Hawaii tourism? The carriers are in the game for the $$$. The route cutbacks are because of cost saving measures Only!

  10. We have a flight scheduled from Los Angeles to Kauai in the beginning of September. After reading above, I called the airline and was told, that route has Not been canceled. I guess only time will tell. Thanks.

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