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Update February 27, 2019: Southwest now has official approval from the FAA to fly to Hawaii! Ticket sales should start in the coming days.
Get your booking game on, all! Southwest flights to Hawaii should be open for ticket sales any day now because Southwest has received verbal consent from the FAA to start flights.
Formal written approval should be soon to follow, now that Southwest has completed a series of successful test flights to the Aloha State. This was needed to earn certification for flying over long distances where there aren’t any alternate airports (like the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii).
Tickets aren’t available on the Southwest website – yet. But I’d be surprised if we don’t see them by the end of the week, with flights starting in a month or so. Hopefully, you’ve got a nice stash of Southwest points ready to go (and maybe even a Southwest Companion Pass in your back pocket). If you don’t, I’ll show you how to get in on the excitement!
Here’s the latest news on Southwest flights to Hawaii.
Southwest Flights to Hawaii Just Got Endorsed by the FAA
Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelley, spoke to employees at a rally in Dallas yesterday. He said the airline had received a “thumbs up” from the FAA after several weeks of validation flights between the mainland US and Hawaii. These flights were to get ETOPS (Extended Twin-Engine Operational Performance Standards) certification, which is required when twin-engine planes fly long distances where there aren’t any options to land enroute.
Getting authorized for ETOPS is the last step in having the FAA give the go-ahead to Southwest’s Hawaii flights. Written approval is expected to come very shortly, after which Southwest will start selling flights to Hawaii – perhaps within days.
Flights will start from Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento to Honolulu and Maui, with more cities to follow. Eventually, Southwest plans to offer inter-island flights as well.
We’ve seen a ton of cheap flights to Hawaii recently, especially from the West Coast. When Southwest finally launches flights, I suspect fares will decrease even more. There’s nothing like a good competition or all-out fare war to drive prices down, and that’s good news if you’re looking to book your dream Hawaiian vacation.
It’s even better news if you collect Southwest points because the price of a Southwest award ticket is tied to the paid fare. On average, you’ll get ~1.5 cents each in value from Southwest points. So, for example, if a ticket to Hawaii costs $300, you should expect an award ticket to cost just ~20,000 Southwest points ($300 cash price / ~1.5 cents per point).
You can potentially get almost double that value if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, because a friend or family member can fly with you for nearly free (pay just taxes and fees, ~$6 one-way on domestic flights) on paid and award tickets.
Get Ready – Earn More Southwest Points for Flights to Hawaii
Southwest points are easy to earn directly from the Chase Southwest credit cards:
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card – Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card – Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card – Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card – Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest if you have one of the following cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a huge rush on bookings as soon as Southwest opens their Hawaii schedule, so be ready to go! We’ll let you know as soon as it happens (follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the news quickly).
The FAA has given verbal approval for Southwest flights to Hawaii, with written authorization coming very shortly. Southwest should start selling tickets within days.
Hopefully, Southwest entering the Hawaii market will drive already-cheap Hawaii fares down even further. That’ll be even more exciting if you earn Southwest points from cards like the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, because when paid fares decrease, the price of a Southwest award ticket gets cheaper, too.
Are you waiting patiently for Southwest flights to Hawaii? What’s your plan of action when they go on sale?