August 22: Hawaii Files Photo of the Day
There is nothing like flying between the Hawaiian Islands on a bargain airfare. The latest bargain price being offered to travelers between the islands is $39 one way. Southwest Airlines recently started offering $39 tickets for all of their flights between Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines stepped up to the challenge by offering some seats for $39 on selected routes and times.
For the traveling public this is a good thing. Who doesn’t like to fly between the islands for cheap?
The long term concern is whether or not both airlines can sustain this low fare “war” remains to be seen. Hawaiian prides itself on being a “quality” airline. People who fly on Hawaiian get good service and a mostly premium product, at least for flights in and out of Hawaii from various points on the U.S. mainland and across the Pacific.
While their inter-island fleet of Boeing 717’s have been proven to be very safe and reliable, the value of flying on those planes went significantly down after Hawaiian ripped the soft and comfy reclining seats that came with the planes in 2001, and replaced them with cheap, bench-like chairs in 2015. Legroom was also reduced to squeeze in more passengers.
Southwest is known as a discount carrier. They do have a lot of perks such as no change and no baggage fees. That really helps budget minded travelers.
They fly newer Boeing 737 NG and 737-Max jets between the islands. Their jets have comfortable, wider and reclining seats with more legroom. I think most of their planes also have free wifi that you can use in flight. Hawaiian’s Boeing 717 does not.
NOTE: If you are traveling to Molokai or Lanai, the only airline with scheduled service to those islands is Mokulele Airlines.
News and industry sources question whether or not each airline can survive with such cut rate prices. If you have been in Hawaii for any length of time, you will remember discount carriers that drove each other out of business. Mid Pacific Air, Mahalo Airlines, Mesa Go!, Aloha Airlines and Island Air were nameplates that once flew inter-island. All are gone, due to fare wars, cash flow problems and mismanagement.
With Southwest starting and possibly sustaining these new, low fares, can Hawaiian survive in the marketplace in the long run? Time will tell.
Today’s photo of the day was pulled from the Hawaii Files Archive. It was taken several years ago and shows the city of Honolulu on a morning flight away from the island. Photo copyright to Melvin Ah Ching.