Southwest Airlines celebrated its inaugural Hawaiian flight from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, with a blessing, hula dancers and more.
Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY
Southwest Airlines plans to boost its Hawaii service in late January, with new daily nonstop flights from California to Kauai and the Big Island, and its first flights from Sacramento to Honolulu.
The airline, which began service to Hawaii in March, is also more than doubling the number of interisland flights, from 16 to 34, including new flights between Honolulu and Kauai and Honolulu and Hilo, on the Big Island.
Tickets for thenew routes go on sale Thursday and can be booked on Southwest’s website. The airline is offering introductory fares starting at $99 for travel between Sacramento and Honolulu and Oakland and Kona. USA TODAY also found some $99 fares for San Jose-Kauai. However, most flights between San Jose and Kona and Oakland and Kauai started at $183.
The fine print: The cheapest fares are offered only on nonstop flights from California for travel on Tuesday or Wednesday; depending on the route, seats are limited and tickets must be purchased in advance for travel between Jan. 21 and March 4. Southwest’s schedule is open only through March 6 so the offers won’t cover spring break for most travelers.
Southwest offered one-way fares of $49 when tickets for the first wave of Hawaii flights went on sale and they quickly sold out, thrilling passengers who nabbed a bargain and frustrating those who missed out.
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Details on new Southwest flights to Hawaii
Sacramento-Honolulu: Daily service begins Jan. 19.
Oakland-Kona: Flights begin Jan. 19 and will be offered four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday).
Oakland-Kauai (Lihue Airport): Flights begin Jan. 21 and will be offered three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday).
San Jose-Kauai: Flights begin Jan. 19 and will be offered four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday).
San Jose-Kona: Flights begin Jan. 21 and will be offered three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday).
Honolulu-Kauai: Four daily flights beginning Jan. 19
Honolulu-Hilo: Four daily flights beginning Jan. 19
Maui-Kona: Daily service begins Jan. 19.
737 Max grounding delayed rollout
The airline initially announced plans to offer flights from four California cities to four Hawaiian islands. But service has been limited to two California cities, Oakland and San Jose, and two Hawaiian islands, Oahu and Maui, plus interisland flights.
That changes in January with the addition of Sacramento the third city. Southwest said Thursday that details on flights from San Diego will be announced at a later date.
The Max grounding on March 13 following two crashes that killed 346 passengers and crew delayed the planned addition of more Hawaii flights because Southwest had to park its 34 Max planes and use planes earmarked for new Hawaii flights to cover existing routes.
Southwest did not use the 737 Max on its Hawaii flights, but the airline has said it hopes to include it on some routes in the future. United used a Max on some Hawaii flights before the aircraft was grounded.
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Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in July that the airline’s burgeoning Hawaii business could no longer wait on the 737 Max to be recertified. Instead, it made other moves to free up planes, including ending flights to and from Newark, New Jersey.
“Adding Hawaii and quickly becoming relevant is strategic for us and this move better supports execution of that strategy,” he said on the airline’s earnings conference call.
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