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Aloha! A few days ago Southwest announced that they will begin service to Hawaii from the mainland United States some time in 2018. Specific routes and when they begin have not been announced as Southwest is still awaiting government approval.

This is fantastic news as the flight market to Hawaii can be quite expensive. The introduction of a low cost airline like Southwest will surely increase competition and drive prices down. It also means another option to redeem points to Hawaii–as well all know award space can be sparse to the islands.

Not to mention this is very exciting for those of you who have/are planning to have a Companion Pass next year!

Where Will Southwest Fly From?

We don’t know for sure, but at one point that video embedded above one of the Southwest guys mentions flights from multiple cities in California on the horizon. Here are current Southwest destinations in California:

I’d wager Southwest ends up flying to Hawaii from their focus cities of Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento or some combination of them.

The same guy that mentions flights from California to Hawaii also mentions that Hawaii will be served by their new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

Companion Pass for 2018 and 2019

The Companion Pass allows you to designate a companion who flies for just the taxes on every Southwest flight you fly. It’s easily one of the best deals in travel if you fly often domestically.

You can earn it by either…

  • flying 100 paid segments
  • accumulating 110,000 Rapid Rewards within a calendar year, which you could do by spending a ton of money on one Southwest Card, flying a bunch of paid flights, or opening and meeting the minimum spending requirements on two Southwest Credit Cards + some extra spending/shopping portal bonus earning

The Companion Pass is good for the calendar year (January 1 to December 31) in which you earn the qualifying points as well as the following year, so timing when you earn it is wise if you want to fully maximize its potential value. To get two full years of Companion Pass benefits, you’ll want to meet the point requirement in the beginning of the calendar year so your companion can fly free for all of that year as well as the following.

Southwest is currently offering a 60,000 point sign up bonus on it’s Premier Business credit card. The personal cards bonuses recently dropped to 40k each. If you have the spending capability and haven’t opened a bunch of cards recently (Chase 5/24 rule applies, business card has a $3k minimum spend, the personal cards have $2k minimum spends each) then you could open all three and that would suffice for the Companion Pass. Just make sure you left 30 days between the application for the second and third card as Chase is known for only approving people for two cards in a 30 day period.

You could also open one business and one personal card, earn 105,000 Rapid Rewards from a 60k bonus + 40k bonus + 5k in non-bonused spending meeting the requirement, and then spend another $5,000 on one or collectively both of those cards.

Whatever you do, if you want to earn a Companion Pass for all of 2018 and 2019, make sure you are careful about when you complete your minimum spending requirements as you want your points to post in 2018 and not 2017 (or else you’d get the Companion Pass for a few days in 2017 and 2018–not ideal). Read Timing the Southwest Cards for Companion Pass in 2018 & 2019 for more details about how/when points post and planning your strategy.

Bottom Line

New flights, more competition, and more award space is always welcome, especially on expensive routes. A flight from California to Hawaii, specifically Los Angeles to Honolulu for example, is around 5 hours and 45 minutes. While in an ideal world we’d all love to fly Business Class or higher around the world all the time, the reality is that there often isn’t premium cabin award space available to the Hawaiian islands–especially in peak travel seasons. 5 hour to 6 hours in Southwest economy is a viable option, particularly when the price tag is appealing.

We’ll be sure to update you when routes are finalized next year.

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