LONDON – Southwest Airlines has obtained Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for flights to Hawaii, both verbal and written.
February has been a busy month for the carrier in this respect, with its Final ETOPS Tests as well as the certification notification too.
We are now waiting on Southwest to announce the date of its ticket sales start date and flight operations start date as well, with it being expected to be late March to early April this year.
In a statement, the carrier commented on the approval.
“The FAA officially authorized Southwest to operate ETOPS or Extended Operations flights that, among other potential routes, will technically allow us to serve Hawaii, as previously announced. We have Teams now finalizing our plans to offer service to Hawaii, and we’ll publicly announce our timing for inaugural flights and other service when we publish our schedule in the coming days. To learn more about our service intentions, Customers can visit Southwest.com/Hawaii.”
Flights to Honolulu and Maui look to be the first on the agenda when operations do begin.
As we look towards the Summer, we expect inter-island flight extensions from Maui and Honolulu to Kona and Lihue, with Los Angeles flights to Hawaii also expected too.
Direct flights to Kona and Lihue could also become a reality with the possible addition of inter-island flights including Hilo for further connectivity.
According to the Beat of Hawaii, there is a summarised update of where these operations currently stand.
We obviously know that approval has been given already and that the carrier is ready to begin operations as soon as feasibly possible.
The new terminal at Honolulu Airport has been completed, meaning Southwest will be on the ground floor using boarding ramps, with dual-door boarding becoming possible.
Finally, there will be entertainment on-board the flight using the inflight entertainment portal, including a flight tracker, gate information, games, free live TV, on-demand TV, free movies and messaging as well as wifi for paid web browsing.
We do know that Southwest aircraft will not be based at Hawaii but depicting a scenario where planes arrive one day, spend a day inter-flying then returning to the mainline United States the next day.
In terms of legroom, 32 inches will be on offer as standard pitch on all seats, offering the most legroom in economy of any carrier across the Pacific.
The airline also believes that operations will begin with up to eight flights daily at the beginning before transitioning to 10 to 15 flights thereafter.
Services will commence from Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento to Maui and Honolulu initially before any inter-island services are announced.
Such inter-island services will start “once we build up our network and have enough frequency to make it meaningful”.
Into the future, it looks like Southwest have been strongly hinting at Los Angeles, Las Vegas and perhaps Ontario or Long Beach.
Services will begin with the 737-800 aircraft, before transitioning to the MAX8 and MAX7 aircraft to bring the likes of Denver and beyond into range, offering further connectivity.
The product will offer two free checked bags, no seat assignments and early boarding options for $15 extra.
No meals will be for sale with only drinks and snacks being customary for the airline.
It goes to the whole no-frills element also as well with no charger ports, with recommendations for Anker charger packs.
In-flight entertainment will be available on your own devices only, with fee based Wi-Fi being offered at either the launch date or later into the operations.