Unraveling Hawaii Airfare Secrets: Inside Dynamic Pricing

Tide Turns on Hawaii Travel Amid Airline Troubles and New Survey

With the problems at Hawaiian Airlines in the past couple of weeks and the latest J.D. Power 2023 North America Airlines Satisfaction Study just released, we decided to see what others are talking about and then report back here. So, this week, Beat of Hawaii is off to try new Hawaii flights and offer fascinating back-to-back comparisons we indeed enjoy and hope you will too. Read on for how we’ll be flying to and from Hawaii this week.

J.D. Power says that customers are less satisfied overall with airlines due to soaring demand, surging airfares, and limited supply.

We’ll add that the meltdowns for Southwest Hawaii passengers in December, and, more recently, for Hawaiian Airlines passengers are at the top of other frustrations.

The survey said, “Customer satisfaction with major airlines is down significantly for a second consecutive year, introducing the risk of possible brand damage if the current pattern of price hikes, staffing shortages, and reduced routes continues… From the customer perspective, however, that means planes are crowded, tickets are expensive, and flight availability is constrained. While these drawbacks have not yet put a dent in leisure travel demand, if this trend continues, travelers will reach a breaking point, and some airline brands may be damaged.”

Comments we received about Hawaiian’s latest problems make clear the fact that travelers are already at the breaking point and brands will be damaged.

Following are some of what J.D. Power had to say:

Overall passenger satisfaction declines, with the most significant cause being cost and fees.

Passengers in the first/business segment have had a more positive experience. It is the premium leisure customer that airlines have their eyes on, so it is no wonder that segment is continuing to improve. Food and beverage is a big gainer here. Even in economy though, food and beverage are improving, as noted by J.D. Power.

How airlines flying to Hawaii scored.

First, Hawaiian Airlines is not included in the study. The reason is that only national, not regional, brands were considered.

The study measured performance and satisfaction by cabin class and between business and leisure travelers. Their report is grouped into First/Business, Premium Economy, and Economy. “The modified factor model measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers based on performance in seven factors: Reservation, Check-In, Boarding, Baggage, Aircraft, Flight Crew, In-Flight Services, Costs & Fees.”

The findings were based on 7,774 passenger responses from those who had flown within a month of completing the survey. The study was conducted in March.

Economy class rankings of airlines flying to Hawaii.

This is obviously how most people travel to and from Hawaii and is thus of the greatest importance. Southwest Airlines ranked number one, followed by Delta Airlines, then Alaska Airlines.

Southwest scored at the top for customer satisfaction in economy for the second straight year in this study, with a score of 827 out of 1,000.

Delta Air Lines, at 801, came in second. When we flew and did a comprehensive Southwest Hawaii flight review, we were pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Beat of Hawaii concurs with J. D. Power that it is the best narrow-body economy service to Hawaii, bar none.

Premium economy class rankings of airlines flying to Hawaii.

This is a segment that, while increasing all the time, is still not present on most flights to Hawaii. Premium economy does not mean extra legroom economy but a separate and distinct class of service. It is typically found on widebody flights on Delta, United, and American Airlines.

Rankings here start with Delta Air Lines, then Alaska (which isn’t a true premium economy), then American Airlines. United is last in this category.

First/business class rankings of airlines flying to Hawaii.

Delta Air Lines ranked number one in business/first-class customer satisfaction rankings. They were followed by Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines.

Which Hawaii flights we’ll be reviewing this week?

Beat of Hawaii editors haven’t flown Delta Air Lines to and from Hawaii since well before Covid. Then, their service was honestly nothing special to write about. It generally felt in the pack with and perhaps slightly better than United and American, which isn’t what we’d consider great. However, Delta has received great reviews from multiple sources, and we’re anxious to try their Hawaii flights again. We will travel on Delta’s new A321neo, the same narrow-body plane Hawaiian Airlines flies.

A few weeks ago, we flew on a Hawaiian A321neo flight as well, and we will be contrasting every aspect of the two flights for you later in the week.

How do you rank the national carriers serving Hawaii?

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11 thoughts on “Tide Turns on Hawaii Travel Amid Airline Troubles and New Survey”

  1. In case anyone is interested, here’s Hawaiian’s new seat setup on their new 787’s


  2. On May 9/23 I spent 9am to 8:15 pm waiting in Maui airport for flight 45a to depart for SJC.!! Had I been better informed I could have spent another entire day enjoying the Westin Resort where I had been staying. The cramped HA “lounge” is a joke only offering stale taro chips with soda/water! My expected 7pm SJC arrival turned into a 4:30am arrival the following day! Plane “weight issues” was given as initial delay rationale which later changed to no available flight crew later in the evening. I travel 3-4x yearly but will be saying Aloha to any future HA flights!👎

  3. Aloha
    We just got back from spending 3 weeks in Waikiki and flew United Airlines roundtrip and felt they were excellent in all aspects of flying yes airfare is too expensive but what isn’t expensive, we go to Hawaii at least 2 times a year but this trip we found food to be the most expensive we have ever seen yes I understand just about everything gets shipped in being on a island you expect to pay more but we spent more on food than we did on airplane tickets, unfortunately Hawaii is hurting themselves with astronomical costs and don’t even get me started with the abundance of homeless people Come on Hawaii you are better than this. Mahalo

  4. I rank Delta top for overall customer service and flight comfort, but the prices and schedules rarely align with my needs.
    United continues to disappoint. Being the most readily available and working with my points, I’ve used them numerous times and only truly happy about twice, yet sorely disappointed frequently.
    American flying anywhere is just bad, really bad, as far as caring about the customer goes. Ease of app/customer service is a joke.
    Southwest is hands down the most reliable and user friendly, as well as being relatively customer service oriented. It may be bare bones on the in flight options, but they also don’t nickel and dime every necessity.
    So I rank
    1) Southwest. 2) Delta

  5. We’ve flown Southwest and Hawaiian to Maui, many times. Both airlines are good. It just depends on which one has the best price. It is very convenient to fly out of Long Beach airport for us. So, that definitely sways our opinion towards Southwest.

  6. Hawaiian’s computer issue was a third party server issue out of their control. It effected Bank of Hawaii, Queens Hospital and more. It’s behind them as will the closing of 8L will soon be. The supply chain issues effecting the NEO’s will get fixed. All issues with a light at the end of the tunnel. Just flew them to Seattle and it was, despite being a completely full flight, the same outstanding Hawaiian service they are known for.
    They have a great opportunity to bounce back stronger then ever from their recent bad luck, let’s see what they do with it.

    1. So you’re saying that their management decided to allow dependence on 3rd party servers as a way to cut costs? That’s what I hear. Now, to some extent, there will always be interdepedencies (TSA, banks, security,…). But if it also impacted those other businesses then it sounds like an issue with rented servers or rented interconnects of the type that they would use too. I’ve worked with zero downtime systems, and they are hard to architect and require good IT staff. Sure sounds like this is cost-cutting for bigger executive bonus at the customer’s expense — and not “bad luck” as they might be trying to spin it.

  7. I must live in a different universe. For me best carriers to Hawaii are not US, they are JAL and ANA. Of the US carriers in Business / I would rate American first then Delta (only a small gap mainly down to more limited less useful hubs) then Jet Blue and a long way behind United and the rest. Hopefully when the B787’s come on line for Hawaiian they will come a long way up my ratings but the current business seats are bad.

    Looking at airlines, the schedules, the hubs to connect, the equipment used (I dislike narrow body aircraft as well as as old equipment transoceanic) on time performance and length of reclined seat / flat bed. The other factor is the people and I think American are good in this respect.

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