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United Adds Washington DC Nonstop – Holds Ground on Hawaii

There’s a surprise Hawaii travel announcement this morning from otherwise Hawaii-lackluster United Airlines. This move indicates UAL doesn’t plan on yielding the east coast anytime soon to rival Hawaiian Air’s ambitions.

The new Washington DC to Honolulu service, which will use 767-400 aircraft, is the second recent announcement of new nonstop service to Hawaii from the distant east coast. Hawaiian recently announced New York City service, which will also be starting in June. We plan to report on that service personally. Hawaiian will use it’s new Airbus A330-300, which is arguably a more comfortable plane than United’s. Do you have any thoughts on that?

This is great news for Hawaii tourism, which seems poised for a record-breaking year. The state’s HTA expects the new route will generate approximately $135 million in new visitor spending annually.

Will there be a fare sale?

No fare sale was announced by United in conjunction with the new service. In fact a check of prices is showing a range of about $900-$1,100 round trip. A Hawaii travel deal based on the new routing is a distinct possibility I’ll be watching for. When Hawaiian announced their new service, it came with a brilliant $212 one-way inaugural fare.

Will it work?

It remains to be seen if United can feed enough Hawaii-bound visitors into its DC hub to make this route a success. By itself, the DC region is not a large part of Hawaii’s tourism draw so the carrier will also need to rely on bringing traffic from adjacent areas. Pricing will have a lot to do with whether or not this will work. You may recall another east coast to Hawaii non-stop that failed recently. US Air’s Charlotte to Honolulu service was relatively short-lived. The airline was forced to heavily discount that route which resulted in it no longer being profitable.

United is struggling to retain its dominance between the US Mainland and Hawaii. It faces both legacy, regional and new competitors and more announcements from these players are imminent.

This may shape up to be the most interesting year ever for Hawaii travel. And the deals you love with definitely play a large role.

Photo taken on approach to Honolulu International Airport.

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6 thoughts on “United Adds Washington DC Nonstop – Holds Ground on Hawaii”

  1. For anyone sitting on Star Alliance miles., there’s good availability for 40,0000 miles roundtrip from Dukkes to Honolulu on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in June and July, bit it is going quick. Things really open up in August..
    If you want to connect into Dulles from another city, the mileage requirements jump up.
    The timing of the Dulles flights are nice as “rush hour” hits later in the afternoon.
    I’m surprised they didn’t kick things off with a sale fare.
    No doubt one will appear. I looked at seat maps on random dates and not many are assigned.

  2. Just took a look at Seat Guru to compare the airlines seat assignments for their airplanes…
    Doesn’t look good for United…While Seat Guru doesn’t specifically show seats for the Boeing 767-400, it does show for the Boeing 767-300, and the seat pitch is 31 inches and width is 18 inches. And given that *ALL* of their planes are configured this way, it goes to figure that the 767-400 will be this was as well, or worse!
    Looking at Hawaiian’s airplanes, we see while Seat Guru doesn’t specifically list the Airbus 330-300, it *DOES* show the Airbus 330-200 and that has a seat pitch of 32 inches (seat width is the same as United). While that single inch doesn’t sound like much, on a long haul, non-stop from the east coast to Hawaii, that extra inch will become very obvious somewhere just before you start to fly over California! It might be worth it to take a short flight (or train) to La Guardia just to fly Hawaiian over United…Especially if United insists on keeping their flight cost above a thousand dollars!

  3. No Hawaii travel plans this year, but maybe next. I hope the route is successful and prices reasonable as we live 15 minutes from IAD!

  4. I’m from the IAD region (it’s less than 3 miles from my house). I like to travel to hawaii as often as I can afford. Usually, I fly out of IAD with connections in Texas or San Fran. I usually don’t pay more than $800/ticket when I pay for tickets…usually I get my credit card points to get me to Hawaii! $1,000 is way too much for standard cattle class to Hawaii. I don’t see how they are going to be able to keep this fare and stay on this route. Heck, last summer when I visited Oahu, I paid $450/ticket round trip! So yeah…a thousand bucks? No way…

  5. Upon looking at the “visitors by MSA” grid, 2010 say nearly 100,000 visitors for the Balt-Wash area and the preliminary 2011 statistics show 75,000+ through August. I realize that many visitors coming from the Baltimore area probably won’t use Dulles to travel but for comparison that MSA produced more visitors than Dallas Fort Worth. Also I think that the IAD flight will give east coaster travelers another option other than delay plagued EWR.

    1. Hayden: Thanks for your comment. I reviewed Hawaii Tourism Authority numbers, as well as other demographics. Dallas is admittedly not a big player, but is important for feed traffic from the entire Southeast for American as Houston is for United. I’m happy to see any new flights to Hawaii and hope that United can make a go of it. Getting people into IAD may prove a challenge for them, as Charlotte was for US Air. Pricing will have a lot to do with that as well.

      Ed: I immediately thought of you when I saw the press release. They’ll have to offer a deal at some point, so stay tuned.



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