It seems odd to us that Hawaii would continue to have that distinction. After all, once on the ground, Hawaii is usually more expensive in every way when compared with the mainland. But not when it comes to airfares, and at least not for now when you travel interisland.
This all comes as another fare war was started today between bellwether Hawaiian Airlines and still relative Hawaii newcomer Southwest Airlines. The lowest mainland price now begins at $119 each way from the west coast, and we predict they can go lower.
So why does Hawaii get the cheapest airfares in the USA?
By their very nature, Southwest and Hawaiian aggressively compete, especially on coveted interisland service.
You might remember in a past update that the pilot head of SWAPA (Southwest’s pilots’ union) has described their Hawaii expansion strategy this way: “Predatory and opportunistic—which we like.” A photo of a shark labeled “Southwest” sits in one of the company’s offices.
$36-$39 Hawaii airfares are the cheapest in the US. Deals extended into 2023.
It’s been months since Southwest announced $39 for every seat on every interisland flight through 2022. That was shocking in itself and is unquestionably a loss leader. Hawaiian Airlines immediately stepped up and largely matched the fares, at least on flight times that competed with Southwest. The cost for any airline to provide interisland flights is multiple times these ridiculously low airfares we love. The lowest fares (other than ultra-low-cost Spirit or frontier) on the mainland start at $49 from San Francisco to Las Vegas and climb to $69 from Chicago to Dallas.
The $39 airfares were, in theory, to end on December 31.
Earlier this week, we checked and found the lowest priced airfares interisland were poised to start at $55 each way in January. But as December 31st looms, that’s simply no longer the case. We aren’t sure who started that, whether it was Hawaiian or Southwest. We suspect it was Southwest. They are offering $39 airfares again in 2023 with these current but quickly changeable caveats.
- Southwest is pricing interisland at $39 each through January 2023, then at $49.
- Hawaiian is pricing most interisland at $36 each way into May 2023, then $48 in May and $59 after that.
How to get the best deals on Hawaii flights.
If you are traveling interisland in 2023, try to book those seats now for $39 if you can. We’ll see later if Hawaiian and Southwest can agree not to disagree. That would allow prices to rise to a higher and more sustainable level for the airlines.