Southwest Says Aloha, We Say Mahalo: Southwest Expands Service to Hawaii

Southwest Airlines announces the second wave in its Hawaii flight expansion, including new flights to and within the islands.
Last updated Aug. 29, 2022 | By Matt Miczulski
Southwest Expands Service to Hawaii

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The move to further expand Southwest Airlines’ reach into Hawaii is now underway, according to a recent announcement by the carrier. The airline’s long-awaited second wave of Hawaii expansion includes five new routes from California, as well as three new interisland routes. Service will begin mid-January 2020.

Although Southwest is only just beginning to dip its toes into the waters of Hawaii, fans of the airline are already over the moon. After all, it’s been a long time coming. If you’re ready to join Southwest on a trip to Hawaii, you’re going to want to check this out. Here is what you need to know as well as how you can use some of the best airline credit cards from Southwest to fly to paradise.

Southwest’s new routes to Hawaii

The California airports getting new Hawaii service are Sacramento, Oakland, and San Jose. While Southwest flights from Oakland and San Jose were part of the initial wave of service to Hawaii, two additional destinations — Kona and Kauai — will be added to the airline’s flight schedule from each city. Sacramento, on the other hand, will offer its first Southwest flight to Hawaii with an all-new, daily service to Honolulu beginning January 19, 2020.

Southwest’s latest push into Hawaii will give customers access to 18 total flights transiting the Pacific each day. Here’s the full schedule :

City Existing routes New routes Nonstop service begins:
Sacramento None Honolulu January 19
Oakland Honolulu, Kahului (Maui) Kona and Lihue January 19, January 21
San Jose Honolulu, Kahului (Maui) Lihue and Kona January 19, January 21

Southwest also added flights within Hawaii

Southwest announced plans for three new routes within Hawaii. Two routes will connect Honolulu with Lihue and Hilo, and the third will connect Kahului (Maui) with Kona. With these additions, Southwest says it will operate a total of 34 departures a day on interisland routes.

Here is the info on the new interisland routes:

City/town Existing routes Newest routes Nonstop service begins:
Honolulu Kahului (Maui) and Kona Lihue and Hilo January 19
Kahului (Maui) None Kona January 19

Second wave of Hawaii service? What did I miss?

The carrier’s newest expansion effort comes five months after it launched its initial wave of service to Hawaii. The plans for further expansion were put on ice after Boeing 737 MAX groundings resulted in delays. Southwest currently has 34 MAXes in its fleet.

To free up planes for flights with stronger demand — including its new Hawaii routes — Southwest has decided to scrap 17 underperforming nonstop routes from its current schedules. This is in addition to the airline’s recent decision to pull out of Newark Liberty (EWR) altogether to redeploy aircraft elsewhere in its network where performance is stronger.

Personally, we’re okay with this decision. More flights to Hawaii sounds better than service at an airport where we collectively lost 600 years of our lives in 2018.

Use a Southwest Companion Pass to fly to Hawaii together

One reason we’re excited about Southwest’s push into Hawaii has to do with the Southwest’s Companion Pass program. This benefit allows qualifying members to bring a friend or family member along on every flight free of charges (except taxes and fees).

To qualify, you must earn 110,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. Customers who meet these requirements will receive a Companion Pass for the remainder of the year they earned it as well as for the following year.

The easiest way to earn a Companion Pass is through credit card sign-up bonuses. If you open both personal and business Rapid Rewards credit cards and meet the spending requirements, you’ll earn between 100,000-120,000 points. That pretty much gets you there.

To maximize how much time you’ll get out of the pass, you’ll want to time it so you earn the Companion Pass at the beginning of the year. You can do this by opening a Rapid Rewards credit card toward the end of the year and waiting until January to finish meeting your minimum spend requirement. If you time it this way, you’ll earn a Companion Pass for that entire year and the entire following year as well.

Credit card rewards can help you get to Hawaii faster

Whether you’re loyal to Southwest or just want to snag yourself a Companion Pass, the airline offers a handful of valuable credit cards for Southwest flyers.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card all offer generous sign-up bonuses after you meet the minimum spend requirements. After that, you’ll continue to earn points from spending and you’ll also have some valuable travel benefits.

If you plan to open a business card, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card would be one of the best travel credit card options. This card allows you to 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. Cardmembers will also earn up to 4X points on purchases, 9,000 points every anniversary year, and a slew of other travel benefits.

The pleas for lower fares in the Hawaii market have finally been answered. It may only be the beginning for Southwest’s Hawaii service, but it’s an exciting time for many of us.

Generous Welcome Bonus

Intro Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$69

Rewards Rate

2X points for Southwest purchases; local transit, commuting, including rideshare; and internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; plus 1X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases and spending in select categories
  • Redeem points for flights, gift cards, and more
  • 3,000 bonus points after cardmember anniversary
  • Plus, 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins per year

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2X points for Southwest purchases; local transit, commuting, including rideshare; and internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; plus 1X points on all other purchases

Author Details

Matt Miczulski Matt Miczulski is a personal finance writer specializing in financial news, budget travel, banking, and debt. His interest in personal finance took off after eliminating $30,000 in debt in just over a year, and his goal is to help others learn how to get ahead with better money management strategies. A lover of history, Matt hopes to use his passion for storytelling to shine a new light on how people think about money. His work has also been featured on MoneyDoneRight and Recruiter.com.