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Why Southwest is Finally Flying Cheap Flights to Hawaii

Why Southwest is Finally Flying Cheap Flights to Hawaii
Jennifer Billock

Southwest Airlines is finally going to start taking travelers to island life on Hawaii, by 2019.

After a multitude of requests from both travelers and employees alike, Southwest Airlines is finally bringing on a new desired route – to Hawaii. And not only that, but the airline says prices to get to the islands will become cheaper.

“We see prices higher than they need to be and we anticipate lowering fares,” Southwest’s Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The airline will begin flying the route either in 2018 or 2019. It’s partially thanks to Boeing as well – the airplane manufacturer recently upgraded the 737 to the 737 Max, which can tackle longer routes and offers more fuel efficiency. Southwest is the first airline in North America to fly this new jet.

“For us, it’s the perfect fit for Hawaii,” Watterson told the Post-Dispatch. “The Max has got 14 percent better range and 14 percent better fuel burn.”

There’s also a new reservation system that’s helping Southwest offer these flights, which welcomes overnight flights and complicated bookings.

But first, Southwest has to get federal approval to fly its planes over the ocean – and that process can take up to 18 months. Tickets go on sale next year.

But some analysts don’t see the Hawaii flights working out for Southwest.

“We don’t see Southwest having success in Hawaii due to an inferior product and an already crowded marketplace,” said Hunter Keay, a Wolfe Research analyst, in a note to clients reported on by the Post-Dispatch. “We expect Southwest will bleed margins here for a couple years before scaling back or exiting outright.”

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

View Comments (13)


  1. Sabai

    October 16, 2017 at 6:57 am

    How is Southwest’s product inferior to when compared to coach class in any of the US cartels? They all suck as they race to cram more seats into narrow Boeing fuselages.

  2. jakwilk

    October 16, 2017 at 7:07 am

    What is considerably good fare for flights RT from US inland to HNL?
    I live in Europe and with similar distance between Northern Europe and Canary Islands we can pay as little as 50usd RT

  3. diver858

    October 16, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Nothing more then WN marketing: 737max ETOPS are still a glimmer in their eye, no mention of routes and frequency. Impressed how effective they are in cranking up the media without real news to report.

  4. mike2003242

    October 16, 2017 at 10:22 am

    If I’m sitting in the back it may as well be WN. They have much better service than the legacy carriers so even if the hard product is inferior, ie no seat back screens or plugs, I would gladly make that exchange!

  5. skidooman

    October 17, 2017 at 1:57 am

    Product inferior at Southwest, really?

    I hope the analyst was not comparing Economy to Economy. There is a reason why Southwest grew a lot in the past decade, and it has everything to do with them having a pretty good Economy offering.

    Sure, no IFE. But then, the service is more courteous, so at worse it is a wash.

  6. pdisme


    October 17, 2017 at 3:21 am

    Companion Pass will make this a sweet deal even with the discomfort of WN seats.

  7. ednumrich

    October 17, 2017 at 5:46 am

    USA resident here. Agree here with jakwilk ~ including having made the trip from Gatwick to Gran Canaria just last month.

  8. Berniecfc

    October 17, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Again how is Southwest an inferior product ? Baggage fly’s free, on-board drinks are less expensive, Oh and the big one the cost of a seat is a lot less expensive than the so called major carriers. Carriers such as American Airlines are leading the race to the bottom by making the average traveler pay more for less. I think that Southwest will shake up the competition with their aggressive pricing and great service and will continue being successful.

  9. diver858

    October 17, 2017 at 6:28 am

    “How is Southwest’s product inferior to when compared to coach class in any of the US cartels?”
    1. As mike2003242 stated above: no seat power – essential for a 5+ hour flight, when required to use your own device.
    2. Will WN’s live TV, other IFE offerings function over the Pacific? A VERY LONG RIDE without it.

  10. sdsearch

    October 17, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Another way Southwest is inferior: There is no way for taller people to guarantee an extra legroom seat at ANY cost, like they can with Main Cabin Extra on AA or Economy Plus on UA, for example. That’s because of Southwest’s open seating policy.

    While in theory Early Bird Check-In (EBCI) or checking in at EXACTLY 24 hours or buying Business Plus should help with that, the problem is that Southwest flies planes point-to-point-to-point-to-point, so if you are not on the first leg of the plane, then the passengers on the leg in front of you tend to change seats before you board and take the precious few extra legroom seats. People have paid extra for Business Plus (who board even before EBCI or 24-hour check in), and still found all their preferred seats taken by “through” passengers already.

    so it depends in part on your height (and your willingness to pay a bit extra for an extra legroom seat) as to whether you might think Southwest is inferior or not!

  11. RAAng

    October 17, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Well, I just flew over the Atlantic on a major US carrier with no seat power, so flying over the Pacific to Hawaii would not be a problem. Especially with two free bags.

  12. chipmaster

    October 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Competition is always good, the consumer will choose based on mostly fare first. We love to vent on forums, FB etc., but we vote with our wallet when it comes time to buy for the most part.

  13. fedup flyer

    October 19, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    SWA has been great at setting expectations low. You get what you pay for.
    They are not the cheapest as their marketing department would have you believe.

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