Fact or Fiction: The Status of Southwest Airlines Flights to Hawaii

Aug 12, 2018

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One of the biggest pieces of news for family award travelers in 2018 will almost certainly be related to Southwest Airlines’ upcoming service to Hawaii. Southwest Airlines is TPG‘s #1 domestic airline for families, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Hawaii was one of the top family award travel destinations.

Picture perfect family trip to Kauai
Picture perfect family trip to Kauai

It has been more than three months since Southwest Airlines released significant updates related to their forthcoming service to Hawaii, so when interesting rumors started bubbling up this week about a Hawaii timeline and specifics, we went straight to the source to confirm the current status of flights to Hawaii with Southwest spokesperson, Brad Hawkins.

Known Southwest Hawaii Service Facts

Before we get to what he had to say, here is what we already knew from previous releases and statements. Initial Southwest service to Hawaii will be from four California cities: Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC) and Sacramento (SMF). The Hawaiian destinations served will be Honolulu International Airport (HNL), Lihue Airport (LIH), Kona International Airport (KOA) and Kahului Airport (OGG). Service to all four airports may not begin on the same day, and Southwest may take a ramp-up approach. We also know that Southwest plans to launch flights between the Hawaiian islands, though that is also unlikely to start on Day 1 of service.

Honolulu hawaii resort waikiki beach in afternoon sun.
Honolulu hawaii resort waikiki beach in afternoon sun.

Southwest’s Hawaii service will launch with its 737-800s before switching to its newest 737 MAX, which you can read all about in this review. You will be able to use your Rapid Rewards points and Southwest Companion Pass to reach the Hawaiian Islands, just as you can all of their destinations.

Southwest has gone on record numerous times stating that they plan to sell tickets to Hawaii in 2018, but whether or not Southwest planes will be in the air with passengers on their way to Hawaii in 2018 has us on pins and needles.

Current Status of Southwest Flights to Hawaii

The latest updates I obtained from Southwest this week aren’t as exciting as some of the rumors that were floating around online, but the news isn’t bad either. I was told that Southwest is still awaiting FAA authorization for Hawaii service, and announcements of service, nonstop markets, timing and fares are tied to getting that formal approval. That said, the Southwest spokesperson said that they “continue to plan for selling tickets in the fourth quarter.”

(Photo by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)

When I asked specifically how things are looking for Hawaii service in 2018, I was told “We’re hopeful that the timing of FAA authorization would allow Southwest to begin Hawaii flights later this year but defer to the timing that would be set by FAA authorization.” So you’re saying there’s a chance…

While we came up empty-handed trying to determine whether or not Southwest will operate passenger flights to Hawaii in 2018, I was able to confirm that Southwest does have new snack options in the works for Hawaii flights. Southwest also confirmed it will offer satellite/overwater Wi-Fi, free live TV, movies, messaging and music on flights to Hawaii, as they do on their other flights.

Southwest's Boeing 737 MAX 8.
Southwest’s Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Planning for Southwest Flights to Hawaii

There’s only so much planning you can do until we have specifics in hand, but stashing up on Southwest Rapid Rewards points now certainly won’t hurt. While we don’t yet have a start date on flights as we mentioned, the new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is advertising an end date for the current bonus of up to 65,000 points on August 22, 2018, so now’s the time to sign up. Read the full review here.

Our fingers are crossed that Southwest will begin flights to Hawaii in 2018 and that those specifics will be known before too much longer, but until then we are here to help you separate the facts from rumor-mill fiction.

Featured image by Garry Lopater via Unsplash

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