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Southwest Airlines brought welcome news when they announced their plans to fly to Hawaii. Travelers rejoiced when Southwest said that ticket sales would begin by the end of 2018. However, 2018 came and went and Southwest still hasn’t touched the Aloha State. What gives?

Updated: Southwest has started flying to Hawaii!

when will southwest fly to hawaii

When Does Southwest Announces Flights to Hawaii

On October 11, 2017, Southwest Airlines announced its intention to fly to Hawaii. The goal was to start selling tickets sometime in 2018. At the time of the announcement, no date was given when flights would begin. However, most people expected Southwest to start flying to Hawaii in 2019.

Why Didn’t Southwest fly to Hawaii Sooner?

Although Hawaii was a long-rumored destination for Southwest Airlines, it was impractical given that Southwest’s entire fleet of airplanes is the Boeing 737. They just didn’t have the range to make it to Hawaii from the West Coast.

You don’t want to run out of fuel or lose an engine halfway to Hawaii. There is literally no place to land a plane in distress except the middle of the ocean.

With the release of the Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft, Hawaii (and other long-distance destinations) became a possibility for Southwest. These 4th generation Boeing 737 aircraft are more fuel-efficient and produce less noise than the older 737s in use.

What Cities Will Southwest Fly To Hawaii From?

There is great demand for flights to Hawaii from the West Coast. Initially, all non-stop flights to Hawaii will originate from California. The four airports chosen by Southwest are:

  • Oakland Metropolitan Airport (OAK)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
  • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)

Ironically, there is a big hole in the Los Angeles and Orange County markets for Southwest flights to Hawaii. There is huge population density in this market and Southwest may be alienating them.

I doubt that these SoCal travelers would want to connect in one of the four airports listed above. Nor would they want to drive more than 90 minutes to San Diego to fly to Hawaii when so many other options are available.

What Hawaiian Cities Will Southwest Fly To?

In late April 2018, Southwest announced that its initial plan is to serve four airports in the Hawaiian Islands:

  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu (HNL)
  • Kahului Airport on Maui (OGG)
  • Lihue Airport on Kauai (LIH)
  • Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on the leeward side of The Island of Hawaii

As Southwest develops their flight schedule, they will also begin inter-island service between the airports that they serve.

Why Has There Been A Delay?

As much as Southwest Airlines would love to begin flying immediately, they need to receive government regulator approval before selling tickets. While they wait for government approval, Southwest is feverishly upgrading their fleet to meet Extended Operations (aka ETOPS) standards. This article provides a deep-dive into what ETOPS is and why it is necessary for Southwest to fly to Hawaii.

Southwest is waiting for ETOPS 180 certification before they can start selling tickets. ETOPS 180 means that the airplane is within 180-minutes (3 hours) of an airport when flying on one engine.

When Will Sales Begin?

To better answer the question ‘when will Southwest fly to Hawaii’, I think we should take a look at when ticket sales will begin. Everyone is waiting for Southwest Airlines to begin selling flights to Hawaii.

Although Southwest likely will not meet their target of selling tickets before year end, ticket sales are coming soon. At a Wings Club event in New York last week, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelley said that they are on track to begin ticket sales this winter.

Mr. Kelley said that the process would take 12 to 18 months from when they announced the Hawaiian flights. If Southwest can start selling flights to Hawaii by March 2019, they will be within the 18-month timeframe of their October 2017 announcement.

While this doesn’t specifically answer ‘When will Southwest fly to Hawaii?’, it does provide an idea of the timeframe.

How To Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Quickly

If you need to stock up on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points, you have a few options. You can earn points from flying on Southwest, booking rental cars or hotel rooms with their partners, and shopping via their portal.

However, the quickest and most lucrative way to earn Rapid Rewards points is through credit card sign-up bonuses. Southwest has several co-branded Southwest credit cards to choose from. Points earned through the Chase co-branded cards are eligible for the Southwest Companion Pass® qualification.

New consumer card cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Additionally, Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to Southwest’s loyalty program. However, transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest will not count towards the Southwest Companion Pass® qualification.

Southwest Credit Cards

There are 3 personal (consumer) credit cards and 2 business cards Southwest offers:

Related: Best Southwest Credit Cards

I recently upgraded my Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card because I think it offers more value. Although the annual fee is higher with the Priority card, it offers a $75 annual flight credit, four priority boarding passes each year, and 7,500 bonus points every year that I renew the card.

Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

Southwest has been a transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program for years. If you have one of the premium credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer points to Southwest Rapid Rewards on a one-to-one basis.

Some Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, but you cannot transfer them to airline or hotel partners unless you also have one of the premium Ultimate Rewards cards. These are the credit cards that need to be paired in order to unlock the transfer functionality:

  • Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
  • Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

The premium credit cards that allow you to earn Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to Southwest are:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

When Will Southwest Fly to Hawaii Summary

When will Southwest fly to Hawaii? We don’t have an exact date yet. However, with so many options to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points, you’ll have plenty of points to book your flights as soon as Southwest starts selling them.


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15 Comments On "When Will Southwest Fly To Hawaii and Where Will They Fly to?"
  1. Ben|

    “There is literally no place to land a plane in distress except the middle of the ocean.”

    Relaying what my pilot friends have told me: There is no such thing as la water landing. There is such a thing as crashing into ocean. :-)

  2. Linda Maloney|

    Would like to know if Southwest will be flying from HAWAII to Tampa, Florida by May 1, 2019. Would like to fly home from Hawaii SWA in May. Can you let me know when you open up those flights?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Not sure if they will be flying there by then. I’m guessing it will be June or July

  3. John Degnan|

    I’m interested in Flying SWA from Hawaii to Boston in late October 2019. Will that be possible?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      It’s possible but you would be stopping in CA


    When will Southwest fly from Oakland to Maui Hawaii, I have a trip planned in mid 2019.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      No one knows for sure but there’s a chance they could be flying by May or June

  5. Nathalie Brochstein|


    Any idea if there is a chance that Southwest will be able to fly Oakland to Hawaii (Any of the islands) by spring break?

    What is the best way to get information as quickly as possible to purchas tickets when they go for sale?

    Thank you

    1. Johnny Jet|

      No chance. Sign up to SWA’s newsletter and they will definitely send

  6. J|

    Feb 20, 2019 – Saw Southwest counters in the Honolulu airport, but obviously nobody working them yet. Getting closer!!

  7. Vicki Keffler|

    Please sign me up on SWA’s newsletter, we are planning a reunion in Kona this June.

  8. Michele Flowers|

    will southwest be flying from Hawaii to Atlanta

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Never. There planes aren’t big enough

  9. Robin|

    when can I fly from San Antonio/Austin to Honolulu or Kona Hawaii

  10. Sherry dmitrenak|

    Wondering if they will ever fly to Hawaii from columbus ohio

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