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.
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:|
|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 a personal and business Rapid Rewards credit card 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 Card would be a great choice. This card allows you to earn up to 100,000 points: 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months; plus, another 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 in the first 6 months. Cardmembers will also earn up to 3X 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.