How to get to Hawaii in under 50… Dollars?

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX taking off from Las Vegas (Tomás Del Coro/FEDEX)

Southwest Airlines has recently changed the wall of expenses that has restricted flying to Hawaii, and forcing the surrounding market to change as they enter the Pacific for the first time.

Last month, Southwest Airlines decided to underbid the entire Hawaiian flight market, by “inaugurating” their first flights on March 17 from California to Hawaii with $98 round-trips.

Although these sales were at first limited to certain locations in northern California, sources at ABC News stated that Southwest is planning on taking these deals down to southern California as well.

These initial deals were part of a limited two-day sale starting March 4 for flights from San Jose or Oakland, but those offers disappeared in hours. Southwest also abruptly announced another sale on March 17 – the same $98 round-trips – to the same reception.

Southwest Airlines representatives have said they cannot immediately talk about any future pricing, especially when they will move towards Orange County. However, Southwest did say in its own press release that San Jose and Oakland were to be their “initial mainland gateways” from California, and outlets such as ABC News have already reported that Southwest “intends to fly to Hawaii from Sacramento and San Diego.”

Southwest is a Dallas-based airline, so it only recently started flying from California to Hawaii because of a green light by the FAA for pacific coast air travel. Since its approval this past Feb., Southwest has concluded its “initial plan” of servicing from San Jose and Oakland to Hawaii, and is now preparing to service from other Californian locations too – including Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ontario.

Although Southwest hasn’t done anymore $98 sales since March 17, this competitive “Wanna Get Away” sales strategy by the airline has proved incredibly successful, and has even created a large impact on the airfare market of Hawaii – a service that has been steadily increasing in cost for years.

Travelers have been paying even upwards of $500 recently for their round-trip ticket just to and from Hawaii. On top of that, any interisland flights average just above $100 per ticket, estimating from Hawaiian Airlines.

On April 6, ABC News claimed that “at this time last year you could expect to pay about $500 for a round-trip ticket in coach. This year the average price is $412.” Vacation goers can expect the price interisland flight to decline as well, as Southwest has underbid those prices – making them as low as $29.

Southwest will announce its newest non-stop Hawaii service locations by the end of April, and any substantial “Wanna Get Away” deals that will likely come with those new service routes. Until then, Hawaii is getting closer to anyone’s vacation.