Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
INSIDER SECRET: The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best ways to reach Hawaii for cheap. Every single time you fly Southwest, you can bring a friend or family member with you for NEARLY FREE.
Since receiving approval to service Hawaii, Southwest has taken the John Rambo approach to the Hawaiian market. They’ve stormed the tiny archipelago with cheap flights and strong-armed the competition into lowering their prices, too.
These Hawaii routes are ever-expanding. Southwest flies to from many West Coast cities to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, and they’ve recently begun to sell inter-island flights (of which they plan to double in the near future). And they’ll soon begin five more routes from California!
There are plenty of cards you can open to earn Southwest points in a hurry:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
But it’s not all beer and Skittles from Southwest. They’ve got to pull some manpower from other areas to cover their exciting new routes, and they’re eliminating 17 routes to make it happen. Here’s why that’s bad.
Southwest Slashes 17 Domestic Routes (and Why That Could Hinder Its Hawaiian Success)
Here are the routes that’ll be disappearing on January 6, 2020:
- Atlanta to Boston
- Austin to San Francisco
- Boston to Kansas City
- Boston to Milwaukee
- Columbus to Oakland
- Dallas Love Field to Jacksonville
- Dallas Love Field to San Francisco
- Dallas Love Field to Oklahoma City
- Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville
- Los Angeles to Cancun
- Los Angeles to Omaha
- Los Angeles to Pittsburgh
- Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta
- New York (LaGuardia) to Orlando
- Orlando to Oakland
- Orlando to San Jose
- Orlando to Sacramento
A Southwest spokesperson stated that the reason these routes are disappearing is:
…to better utilize our people and planes on routes or to offer more frequencies where demand warrants this investment.
He also said that most of these soon extinct nonstop routes will turn into one-stop routes.
On the surface, it looks like Southwest is trading traveler convenience for that wow-factor wave they’ve been riding to the shores of Hawaii. Removing 17 routes will lengthen the commute of many people, but this could even have a negative effect on some Hawaii flights, too.
Hawaiian Growing Pains
If you’re a Southwest flyer who lives in the Midwest (or farther east), you’ve probably experienced difficulty in booking a round-trip flight to Hawaii on Southwest.
There’s a simple explanation for that: Southwest doesn’t publish those extreme red-eye flights you’ll find on other airlines like American Airlines and United Airlines. So if you’re flying back from Hawaii, it’s nearly impossible to reach the East Coast in the same day. Southwest hasn’t dismissed the possibility of red-eye flights in the future, but there are currently none.
Here’s an example. If I want to fly from Columbus to Honolulu, I’ve got plenty of options.
As you can see, I can’t fly straight to Honolulu. I’ll have to connect in Oakland for a couple hours.
But if I want to fly from Honolulu to Columbus, there aren’t any flights available. The last flights from Oakland to Columbus are long gone by the time my Southwest flight from Honolulu reaches Oakland.
But now, as of January 6, 2020, Southwest won’t fly nonstop between Columbus and Oakland any longer. That makes it even harder to reach Hawaii on Southwest. By the time my flight reaches Oakland, the Hawaii flights have departed. Take a look.
These routes may affect more than just domestic flyers. If they continue to cut seemingly random and insignificant routes like this, they may find fewer of their Hawaii flights booked, as well.
Southwest Is Still One of the Best Ways to Reach Hawaii
Southwest wouldn’t have cut these routes if they were profitable. These flights just weren’t in-demand enough to keep, and I venture to say most of you won’t be affected by these changes.
If you want to reach Hawaii for cheap, Southwest is still an unbelievable deal. That’s because you can earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to take a friend or family member with you for only the cost of taxes & fees, every time you fly Southwest.
That means if you book a ticket for yourself (with either cash or points), you can bring a friend for nearly free. Even if you fly back and forth to Hawaii every single day, you can bring them along. Depending on how much you fly, you could save thousands and thousands of dollars.
My wife and I earned the Companion Pass earlier this year, and recently used it to save $400+ on flights to Mexico. We’ll be using it a lot later this year for the holidays, too.
Right now you could get yourself 77% of the way to earning a Southwest Companion Pass just by opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card and meeting its meeting minimum spending requirement. With the card, you can earn 80,000 Southwest points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Including the points you earn from the minimum spending you’ll have at least 85,000 Southwest points and you only need to earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year to earn the Companion Pass.
The card also comes with loads of other perks, check out our Southwest Performance Business credit card review for more details.