Southwest Airlines Will Start Flying To Hawaii

Southwest Airlines carries more total passengers through their system than any other US airline. They have a massive fleet of nearly 700 Boeing 737s. Yet somehow up until now they haven’t flown to Hawaii, which has surprised a lot of people, including me. That’s finally changing.

Per a message posted by Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelly, Southwest will begin selling tickets for flights between California and Hawaii in 2018. Here’s the full message from Southwest’s CEO:

I just shared with our Employees at our Spirit Party at Universal Studios: we’re going to Hawaii, baby! That’s right—the day is finally here that we can say we’re going to add some Aloha to our world-famous Hospitality, as Southwest Airlines will soon serve the Hawaiian Islands!

We intend to begin selling tickets in 2018, and while we’re not quite ready to offer our Customers specific schedule or market information, tonight’s announcement is going to be big news within the industry. Those Southwest shockwaves of our terrific value and bar-setting Customer Service will be a game-changing addition in the U.S. transpacific market.

You may have heard us purposefully changing our language ahead of tonight’s announcement to say it’s a matter of when, and not if we serve Hawaii. Why now? We need to take our Extended Operations (ETOPS) work to the next level and gain FAA certification of ETOPS-equipped aircraft in our fleet and establish required operational processes to offer our Customers nonstop service they expect from California to one of the world’s top leisure destinations. The MAX will be our Hawaii aircraft but, we’ll start with our ETOPS-equipped -800 fleet to accelerate our service launch date. The rest of the work is lined up to bring the performance enhancements of the MAX to what we intend to build into a multi-market offering among our west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands.

Because this will be big news for the media and our Investors who have also waited for this day, we’ve also posted video of the Employee announcement on swamedia.com, where you’ll also be able to read our news release.

Mahalo to you all as we work to bring America’s Most Loved airline to the shores of Hawaii–and I find it fitting that’s about as far Southwest as you can go in the U.S!

As you can see, the main hurdle now is Southwest having to get their planes ETOPS certified. We’re still not that far along in learning the details of Southwest’s new service, though we’re now another step closer to seeing Southwest fly to Hawaii.

So Southwest has gone from saying they’re considering flights to Hawaii, to saying it’s a matter of “when” and not “if,” to saying that it’s definitely happening, but not yet announcing specific routes or dates.

Congrats to Southwest on this development! I’ll be very curious to see just how many flights to Hawaii they operate.

Comments

  1. My guesses: LAX, OAK would seem shoo-ins given existing connectivity and large Southwest operations at both.

    +??SAN? SJC? LAS? SFO? PDX? SEA? SMF?

  2. I think the value of early boarding (A list, A list preferred, Business Select) just skyrocketed. Early bird on this flight will be a no-brainer! But, I can see Early Bird extending into the late “C” group now!

    I’d not want to board this one last, and I’d not want to arrive at the boarding area late!

  3. @Steve

    You’ve already posted the same comment on a few blogs, so maybe you should just become a meme. Anytime someone announces an airline route anywhere in the world, you pipe up and complain that it’s worthless if it doesn’t go to Chicago.

  4. Steve,

    More competition is always welcome in any market.

    I generally don’t fly Southwest as their pricing is basically uncompetitive in my major markets (Delta, American, United tend to be significantly cheaper out of NYC, at least when I look for flights), but they seem to offer good prices when they ahve to compete.

  5. @Steve is spot on, actually. I fly SWA weekly out of BUR to OAK, and for that, it’s absolutely perfect. It’s cheap, fast, efficient, friendly, etc. But that’s a 50 minute flight. Even when I wasn’t A List, security was always 5-8 mins max, I still got the seat I wanted. Keep in mind, I travel alone on these on-day business trips. But a trans-pac to Hawaii? Never. Hawaii pax are usually families, most are travelling with small children, and everyone will have checked luggage. This presents a dramatic shift in a majority of their typical California passenger, which are mostly solo business travelers on a one-day trip. I agree that assigned seating may be the only way to manage that type of crowd.

  6. I expect lots of LAX, some OAK; and some PHX as the MAX is delivered.

    Big question is how the MAX will be configured. If its like AA, then its a big loser. gotta keep decent pitch.

    What i wouldn’t do for some B6 service to Maui from LAX.

  7. A 737-800 has a range of about 2900 mi, which means it can fly between Hawaii and anywhere on the west coast such as SEA, SFO, LAX and maybe PHX, but SLC, DEN, and CHI are too far. This is unrelated to ETOPS, this is how much fuel it carries.

  8. Lucky, you seriously need a new, updated picture for all of your Southwest posts!!!
    You fly domestic all the time – don’t tell me you’ve never seen a nice, shiny Southwest aircraft in the new livery. I’ve seen like 13 posts with this picture so far lolll

  9. As for the ‘kettle talk’ by Steve…regarding service from CHI meaning MDW…until SWA begins flying 787’s from ORD, it’s a ‘kettle coach’ experience…fine for Families with children , but not worth the effort for those without….

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