Southwest to Hawaii, more details

This morning, Southwest blew up the blogosphere with news that at long last they are starting service to Hawaii (See: Southwest to Hawaii from $49 / 2K points!). Whether you’re excited because you’ve got a Companion Pass ready to rock and roll or because of the heat you hope this puts on legacy carriers to drop their fares, it’s probably good news from most perspectives. However, official information was nonexistent this morning. Here’s more about what we know from announcements and/or trial and error.

Service from Oakland starts 3/17, starting fares from $49

That’s less than two weeks away. Starting fares of $49 seems insanely low, especially when you consider the fact that Southwest includes two checked bags free. On the flip side, most people aren’t going to book a trip to Hawaii on 2 weeks notice, so I imagine they know those first flights will go out with a lot of empty seats. That’s good news for those looking to sprawl out. While I bet a lot of hobby enthusiasts will book that first week, I imagine there will be a number of empty seats in week 2 and week 3.

That said, note that the March flights are all showing sold out now. I imagine there is a lot of speculative booking going on and that will change in the coming days.

San Jose starts in May

Those looking to fly from across the Bay will have to wait until May. As you can see above, service to Honolulu starts 5/5 and to Maui on 5/26, with Kona beginning on 5/12.

Inter-island starts 5/12

Flights between Honolulu and Kona (on The Big Island) begin on 5/12, with flights available that first week from just $29. Alternatively, book with 1,329 points. That’s fantastic for inter-island flights, which often cost $100.

Connecting itineraries from the Chicago and Baltimore start in April

I was able to find connecting itineraries to Hawaii from cities in the Western US starting in March. However, for those further East, I see connecting itineraries from Chicago and Baltimore starting from the second week of April.

However, I do not see itineraries returning from Hawaii to the Midwest and East Coast. I suspect that is because they would require an overnight connection. You may be able to book these over the phone. Alternatively, in the interest of getting something booked, I’d recommend just booking a flight from Hawaii to Oakland and a separate flight from Oakland home as time may be of the essence on cheap flights.

Flights aren’t so cheap once the summertime hits

I initially saw flights one-way from Baltimore to Honolulu from around $162 or just over 9,000 points in April.

However, if you want to travel in the middle of the summer, fares are significantly higher for now. These are one-way fares from Baltimore to Honolulu in July. Not exactly the low prices most would have hoped to see.

However, if you can wait until September, fares become reasonable again. Here is Baltimore to Maui in September, with fares from $208 or about 13,000 points one-way. If you have a Companion Pass, that’s still a steal.

Taxes & fees are weird

On some itineraries, I’ve seen weird taxes & fees. For instance, I booked this one early on:

I have no idea why the taxes were $14.90 instead of the $5.60 usually charged on a domestic itinerary. The fare breakdown shows an additional tax that I haven’t seen on Southwest itineraries before.

However, adding the Companion on that flight came to $5.60, as expected.

That said, I received an error when trying to purchase the companion seat on that flight. I ended up having to just book a separate seat, though for less than 2K points, I won’t lose sleep.

Interestingly, I later booked a connecting itinerary where the taxes came to the $5.60 per passenger that would be expected. Furthermore, I was able to add a companion for $5.60 immediately after booking — the $9.30 transportation tax didn’t show up on any of the confirmations.

How you can find the best prices

To find the lowest prices, use the low-fare calender function that I used for calendar screen shots above. You’ll find that tool here.

Bottom line

While some of the best prices have dried up since we posted this morning alerting readers to the fact that tickets were finally on sale, there are still deals to be found and things will surely be fluid in the coming days as people shore up and/or cancel plans.

If you’re looking to travel later in the year, fares are still fantastic, especially considering 2 free checked bags per passenger and the outsized value for Companion Pass holders. Overall, this is great news for those looking to spend some time in paradise.

Final tip: get those hotels booked sooner rather than later. There is going to be some sudden competition for rooms. If you’re looking for some recent info on Hawaii hotels, you can find posts about my recent stays at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Andaz Maui, and Hyatt Regency Maui here:

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Abey
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Abey

Would be interesting to see what the actual load factors would be on the initial flights

Dan
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Dan

Please share the connecting itinerary that sled you to add a companion.

Drop
Guest
Drop

This was disappointing, mostly because the weekend fares in May-August are no better than the sale fares offered by other airlines recently leaving out of the west to Hawaii. Granted, there were some Saturday $99 flights which really can’t be beat, but those disappeared immediately and only $164 flights are left. Hopefully other airlines will react with offering sale prices.

CaveDweller
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CaveDweller

Every airline has a sweet spot this is another Option for travelers .Some of their prices are Insane for other routes let’s Hope it works for Travels in the long run..

CHEERs

VX_Flier
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VX_Flier

Agree 100%! While SWA’s entry into the Hawaii market will not affect Business class fares on other carriers, the lower fares for Economy classes will “hopefully” bring fares down for this market overall.

Hawaii is a funny market because it’s nearly all leisure fares with some business fliers (who fly mostly United or Delta). I’m thinking that the Southwest Effect will be minimal, but still GREATLY appreciated by fliers in this route.

CaveDweller
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CaveDweller

I wonder what the inter-island flts will cost I just got 70K Hawaiian air miles .
CHEERs

OR97
Guest
OR97

“unavailable”

Fat Ted
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Fat Ted

Will these low fares be available during the next batch of Southwest flights (i.e. December flights)?

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[…] from Oakland and San Jose to Maui and Honolulu. From first look and some great research done by Frequent Miler, we see that fares are starting as low as $49 or 1,950 Rapid Rewards […]

Barry
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Barry

I live in the midwest (near Chicago) and would prefer to use 25,000 miles on Korean Air (for a flight on Delta), 30,000 miles on Air France (also partners with Delta), or 35,000 miles on Singapore Air (partners with United) for a Hawaii trip. In general, the planes are much roomier than Southwest’s 737s. The only reason that I could justify flying to Hawaii on Southwest is to use the companion pass for the flight.

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[…] Southwest to Hawaii, more details […]

CaveDweller
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CaveDweller

Do their planes have the range to Go MDW>HNL ??
CHEERs

Josh
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Josh

MDW to OAK to HNL