Southwest Flights & Routes to Hawaii – A Complete Guide

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Southwest is flying to Hawaii!

Well, actually that’s old news — but the details of this awesome announcement are still up in the air.

They had hoped to start selling fares to Hawaii in 2018, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

In this post, I’ll share all of the latest news about when Southwest might start offering flights to Hawaii, plus some tips to boost your Southwest Rapid Rewards balance so you’re ready to go once flights are announced.

Southwest Flights To Hawaii
Southwest plans to fly to 4 different Hawaiian islands nonstop from California. Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Latest News About Southwest Flights to Hawaii

Back in October 2017, Southwest announced that it will be adding flights to Hawaii. We all expected to see those flights begin in 2018. But as of now, there is still no expected date to start their service to Hawaii. So what’s the holdup?

While Southwest isn’t broadcasting what’s taking so long, there are a couple reasons why we are still waiting.

  • The FAA needs to sign off the carrier’s ETOPS manual. ETOPS stands for Extended range Twin engine OPerations. ETOPS certification measures the distance a plane can fly on 1 engine and ensures a plane can safely fly long distances over open bodies of water.
  • The recent government shutdown could also be affecting Southwest’s timeline.

Southwest Rumor Mill

The internet is flourishing with nuggets of information and rumors about when Southwest might start flying to Hawaii. Here’s the latest:

  • Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, said at the Wings Club in New York in December that the new flights are on track to begin this winter.
  • Some are saying that tickets could go on sale as early as February 2019, with flights starting in March.
  • Another website also reports an expected February or March 2019 launch for Southwest flights to Hawaii.
  • According to a post from the Chicago Business Journal, a Southwest internal memo dated December 21 from Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven stated: “I am proud to report that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified Southwest earlier today that the Extended Operations (ETOPS) procedures and manuals we submitted for review have been approved. This is a very important step in our journey to ETOPS authorization.” Their sources say the earliest flights would begin would be March or April 2019.

Bottom Line: There is still no official announcement from Southwest regarding the timeline of commencing service to Hawaii. However, there are many rumors reporting that flights could begin as early as February, March, or April 2019.

Expected Routes to Hawaii

Southwest plans to offer nonstop service to 4 different Hawaiian islands from 4 different cities in California.

Expected Southwest Destinations in Hawaii:

  • Honolulu, HI (Oahu)
  • Kahului, HI (Maui)
  • Kona, HI (Island of Hawaii)
  • Lihue, HI (Kauai)

Expected Locations in California Offering Nonstop Service to Hawaii:

  • Oakland, CA (OAK)
  • San Diego, CA (SAN)
  • San Jose, CA (SJC)
  • Sacramento, CA (SMF)

Southwest also plans to offer inter-island service.

Bottom Line: Southwest has announced that it plans to offer nonstop service to Honolulu, Kahului, Kona, and Lihue from Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC), and Sacramento (SMF). They also plan on offering inter-island service within Hawaii.

What Aircraft Will Southwest Fly?

Southwest will most likely be flying the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 on their routes to Hawaii. This is a single-class aircraft offering 32 inches of pitch (a measure of how much space a cabin carrier has between seats).

As with all other Southwest flights, there will be no business or first class offered. However, if that leaves you squeamish, keep in mind that Southwest has one of the roomiest economy cabins in the industry.

need more points?: Boost your Southwest Points balance with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which currently has a 50,000 sign up bonus worth $625. You can transfer those points directly to your Southwest account, making this one of the fastest ways to rack up points.

How to Earn Enough Southwest Points to Fly to Hawaii

While we’re all patiently waiting for Southwest to begin service to Hawaii, it’s a good time to stock up on Rapid Rewards points — because the only thing better than flying to Hawaii is flying to Hawaii on points!

I love the Southwest Rapid Rewards program for a few reasons. It’s straightforward, easy to use, and there are no blackout dates. If a fare is available for cash, you can use Rapid Rewards points to purchase it too.

Rapid Rewards points are worth about 1.5-1.7 cents per point. Their value doesn’t change much, so you’ll see that a more expensive ticket will cost more Rapid Rewards points.

Southwest Airlines Plane
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

10 Ways to Earn Lots of Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

1. Take a Southwest Flight: This one is pretty straightforward but worth mentioning: you’ll earn points for every flight you take on Southwest Airlines. Business and Anytime fares earn more points than Wanna Get Away fares, but they cost more also.

2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards: Southwest offers 3 personal and 1 business credit card. Each of these cards earns 2x points on all Southwest Airlines purchases including flights, inflight purchases, Southwest gift cards, Southwest Vacations packages, and at participating Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners.

3. Southwest Credit Card Referral Bonus: If you already have a Southwest card, you can earn bonus points by referring friends and family. Visit Chase’s Refer A Friend program to see which Southwest credit cards are participating.

4. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points transfer directly to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. If you need to top off your Southwest account for a redemption, you can easily and instantly transfer points over from your Ultimate Rewards account.

5. Chase Ultimate Rewards-Earning Credit Cards: Since Chase points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, any Ultimate Rewards points you earn can be transferred into Rapid Rewards points.

Chase credit cards tend to have more varied rewards categories (including travel and dining) than the Southwest cards, so you can earn points even faster.

Our Recommended Chase Card (points transfer directly to Southwest):

See all the ways that you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points and then transfer them to your Southwest airlines account.

6. Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal: Did you know you can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points just by shopping online? Search for your favorite store and click through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal, and you will be earning bonus points on your purchase. It’s a great way to maximize every dollar you spend.

7. Rapid Rewards Dining Program: How about earning extra points each time you dine out? When you participate in the Rapid Rewards Dining program, you’ll earn bonus points each time you eat at participating restaurants. Just be sure to link your credit card to your Rapid Rewards Dining account first!

8. Book a Southwest Rapid Rewards Vacation Package: Booking a Southwest Vacations package earns points on the flight portion of your trip, plus bonus points are often available.

9. Book a Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel or Car Rental Partner: Each time you book a hotel or car through a Southwest partner, you’ll earn bonus Rapid Rewards points.

10. Buy Southwest Rapid Rewards Points: This isn’t the best option, but if they’re running a promotion or you just need to top off your account for a specific redemption, buying Southwest points is an alternative.

Bottom Line: There are so many ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Check out our guide to earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points for even more ways to earn — that don’t even involve flying!

Final Thoughts

We’ve all been patiently waiting for the day when Southwest announces when their flights to Hawaii will begin — rumors are pointing to that day getting close.

Keep your eye out, because we could see Southwest flights to Hawaii as early as March or April 2019. Until then, earn those Rapid Rewards points and decide which Hawaiian island you plan to visit first. Aloha!


Featured image credit: Katie Seemann

FAQ

When will Southwest begin flights to Hawaii?

There is still no official word from Southwest Airlines, but many sources say flights could begin as early as February, March, or April 2019.

What cities in Hawaii will Southwest service?

Southwest plans to fly nonstop from California to 4 Hawaiian cities: Honolulu (Oahu), Kahului (Maui), Kona (Island of Hawaii), Lihue (Kauai).

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland - that's an experience she doesn't intend on repeating!). In late 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and it literally changed her life.

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