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I’m not sure there is a longer-standing airline route rumor than when it comes to Southwest and Hawaii. Just as an example, there has been an active “Southwest Hawaii Rumors” thread on Flyertalk since at least 2008, and I’m sure rumors of the potential of service to Hawaii probably pre-date that thread. At first, there were more reasons speculated why it wouldn’t work than why it would, but for a while now the general consensus has been not if Southwest will serve Hawaii, but rather when it will happen. Heck, the Southwest CEO basically said that word for word on their July earning’s call.
Southwest already serves many international destinations such as Aruba, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Mexico, and more, plus they have started to receive their new Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft. Some of the other technical hold-ups to Hawaii service reportedly have fixes in process, or at least could be in process in the near term. So, really all things were already pointing to Hawaii happening sooner rather than later, especially since Southwest has publicly said that Hawaii is a priority.
None of that is new information, but what is relatively new is the revelation that Southwest is a headlining sponsor of the Hawaii Global Tourism Summit happening this week in Honolulu. You don’t have to be a fly on the wall of an airline CEO’s office to know that when an airline sponsors a tourism summit to somewhere that it doesn’t currently operate, that it probably points to them flying there much sooner rather than later. Othwerise, that is probably money that is not very well spent. The current speculation is that a service announcement might be made at the conference.
There is virtually an endless amount of online speculation about this announcement ranging from those who keep tabs on the future of Hawaiian Airlines stock prices and have lots of Freedom of Information Requests tracking developments, to those who are keeping an eagle eye turned towards FlightAware to see if Southwest operates a ferry flight to Honolulu tonight with one of their new aircraft.
We will know soon enough if this is the big Southwest – Hawaii announcement happens this week, but even if it doesn’t happen this week for some reason, it still looks like Southwest flying to Hawaii from the West Coast is a very real 2018 possibility with a late-spring/early summer launch date likely making the most sense in terms of timing and demand.
Of course, this will likely only increase the value of the Southwest Companion Pass since who wouldn’t want to fly a friend or family member to Hawaii with them virtually for free? Southwest could always change up the rules of the Companion Pass when it comes to Hawaii, but that seems very unlikely to me since they don’t do that for their international destinations and have basically made a name for themselves by keeping things simple and straight-forward.
Along that train of thought, the 60,000 point Southwest credit card offers that I believe are scheduled to end in early October may now be even more interesting, especially if you finished off the spending requirements at the tail-end of the three-month window so that the points post to your account in 2018. This would get you a great jump start at the 110,000 points necessary in a calendar year to earn a Companion Pass. If you earned the pass in 2018, it would be good all the way until the end of 2019!
I’ll be following the news from the Hawaii Global Tourism Summit closely, and will update if anything interesting comes out of Honolulu this week!
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