Southwest to Hawaii News: Buy & Fly by Late Fall 2018


Southwest held a meeting in Honolulu yesterday that revealed approximate dates Southwest flights will go on sale and commence service. We also learned that Southwest will keep its awesome two free checked bags/free flight change policies for flights between Hawaii and the mainland.

Executive Vice President; Chief Revenue Officer Andy Watterson told the Beat of Hawaii that the announcement of flights will come by October at the latest, and service would “begin possibly just weeks thereafter”. Looks to me like the goal is to have planes in the sky in time for Thanksgiving break, and that tickets will go on sale–that’s what’s meant by the announcement of flights–with at least a few weeks lead time.


Southwest will serve the following Hawaiian destinations:

  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH)
  • Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)
  • Kahului, Maui (OGG)
  • Kona, Island of Hawaii (KOA)

Watterson said that Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG) would likely be the first destinations, but that all destinations would probably be served before the end of 2018. At least some inter-island service should be available from the get-go.

Departure Cities

Southwest will begin service to Hawaii from the following cities in California:

  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Oakland (OAK)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • San Diego (SAN)


Los Angeles, Ontario, and/or Long Beach are the next departure cities to look out for.

Other Flight Detail Updates

Southwest is known for its customer friendly no-fee policies, which will remain status-quo for flights to Hawaii:

  • Each passenger gets two checked bags for free
  • Flight changes are free

The pitch on their economy seats will be 32 inches, which is apparently the most legroom of any economy carrier between Hawaii and the mainland.

Quick Ways to Earn Rapid Rewards

Chase issues four Southwest co-branded credit cards, and varying from a $69 annual fee tier up to a $149 tier. They all offer valuable sign up bonus offers and benefits packages which are outlined in Everything You Need to Know About Chase’s New Southwest Card. 

Chase’s newest Southwest card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card, offers the biggest bonus: 65,000 points for $15k of spend on the cardwithin the first year of account opening.

The Southwest Companion Pass is easily the best deal in domestic travel, and is made even more so by the addition of Southwest flights to Hawaii. Those with a Companion Pass, which is earned by accruing 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, get to designate a companion who flies for just the taxes on every Southwest flight you fly. That’s $5.60 each way within the United States and a bit more on Southwest’s international routes. If you live in city served by Southwest, the Companion Pass should be on your radar. I recommend reading this post to learn more details and strategy if the Companion Pass has your interest piqued.

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Bottom Line

You should be able to book [cash and award] flights to Hawaii on Southwest by October 2018, and fly as soon as late October or November of 2018.

The flight market to Hawaii can be expensive, so seeing the introduction of a low cost carrier is a big win for consumers as overall prices will surely be driven down. The fact that it’s the most customer-friendly low-cost carrier in the country is a huge bonus.

Who’s taking their Companion Pass buddy to Hawaii this year?

Kauai, Photo by Eugenia Villar

Hat tip Beat of Hawaii

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  1. Sarah – how would you envision flights from Hawaii back to the East coast? Has Southwest indicated if they would be flying overnight from Hawaii… or would you have to stay overnight on the west coast and if so, could you do this on one ticket (or would you need separate)? Not sure if Southwest has shared any thinking in this space, but thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Michael – no indication yet how WN will handle ticketing/connections. But in a prior story from “Beat of Hawaii”, Southwest reps indicated they would like to avoid redeye flights –

    “Kelly stated that while they may offer overnight flights in the future, “we don’t really desire to fly red-eyes right now.” “For our style of operation, it would complicate things.

    BOH: Overnight service will definitely come to their Hawaii flights at some point. That could occur much sooner than later out of logistical necessity.”

  3. I’ve been waiting for this for years! My wife and I have the Companion Pass locked and loaded for 2018/19… My hope is that they will expand to some other west coast departure cities in the near future as well (PDX/SEA).


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