After months (and even years) of swirling rumors, Southwest Airlines just made it official: they will be adding flights to Hawaii!
Southwest announced this via a blog post (seen below) but they were pretty sparse on the details. Here’s about all we know. We know that Southwest intends on selling tickets from California to Hawaii beginning in 2018 subject to FAA/government approval. There’s a very good chance that they won’t actually start operating flights until 2019, however, so we are likely at least a year from this becoming a reality.
We also don’t know which specific routes will be serviced. We know that Southwest eventually plans on utilizing its new 737 MAX aircrafts to service the route. These are more effecient aircrafts with better range and also improved interiors, which will make it possible to fly over the Pacific from various cities.
Southwest stated that they intend to “build into a multi-market offering among our west coast cities and the Hawaiian Islands” and so it’s likely we’ll see flights from LAX, OAK, and maybe even SAN. These routes will take roughly 5 hours on average which isn’t too bad. Some speculate that these flights might even originate from interior Southwest-hub cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Denver, so there’s also the potential for longer flights.
This is great news to anyone who will be earning the Southwest Companion Pass for 2018/2019. And it’s also one reason I would probably not go for the targeted Southwest Companion Pass offer that just went out to California residents since it expires at the end of 2018. This also could result in lower fares across the board as more airlines attempt to compete for these routes in the future.
You can watch a video of the Southwest employee announcement party here:
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!
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.