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Southwest Airlines has started selling tickets for trips to Hawaii, with the first flights taking off March 17th. This introductory fare is less than a quarter of the price for the same route by their competitors.

The initial flights will be between Oakland and Honolulu, with additional flights from Oakland and flights between San Jose and Honolulu, Kona and Maui being added in April and May. Tickets for these new routes are available on Southwest's website.

According to Southwest's website, introductory fares start at $49, one way, for travel into mid-June; with the cheapest fares being available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fares for peak summer travel range from $189-$214 each way.

Southwest has a low-fare calendar to help find their cheapest fare.

The starting dates for other Hawaii routes, according to Southwest's website are:

  • Oakland-Maui: April 7
  • Oakland-Kona May 12
  • San Jose-Honolulu: May 5
  • San Jose-Kona: May 12
  • San Jose-Maui: May 26

Hawaii service was delayed because of government shutdown

Southwest initially dangled the prospect of flights beginning in late 2018.

Southwest executives said the airline was nearing the final phase of its efforts to get so-called ETOPS (extended range twin engine operational performance standards) certification from the FAA, with flights due to start Feb 1st, when the federal government shut down a few days before Christmas.

ETOPs certification (a lengthy process involving new flight manuals, procedures, training and exercises and test flights with FAA officials) is required for twin-engine planes on routes where alternate airports aren't in close range, should flight troubles arise.

The airline's last test flight was from Maui to Dallas on Tuesday, Feb 19th on a Boeing 737. Southwest has no plans to fly from its Dallas home base to Hawaii.

Southwest Priority Card Benefits

The priority card may have the highest fee but it comes with the best additional benefits. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card was only introduced back in July 2018. The Priority Card has a $149 annual fee and offers:
  • A 7,500 point anniversary bonus each year
  • 2 x points for every $1 spend on Southwest Airlines
  • 1 x points on everything else
  • A $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • Four upgraded boardings per year when available
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and wifi
The 7,500 points given during each anniversary covers more than 2/3 of the annual fee; you can redeem Southwest points for a fixed 1.5 cents per point so you can easily earn back the cost of the annual fee with all the benefits.

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