The wait is over. After a long FAA approval process and several weeks of test flights, Southwest finally launched its new routes to the Hawaiian islands from California with a huge sale on tickets. Taking off for the first time on March 17, the flights are on sale now with fares as low as $49 one way.
The new routes includes service from Oakland (OAK), San Diego (SAN), and San Jose (SJC) in California to airports including Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Kahului on Maui, and Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. While Southwest’s website says it will also be flying from Sacramento as well as to the airport in Lihue, Kauai, those flights aren’t searchable yet.
To give you an idea of just how cheap these tickets are, we were able to find one-way fares from Oakland to Honolulu in late March for as low as $49. With return fares priced just as low, this means that you’ll pay less than $100 for a round-trip ticket (including taxes). In comparison, nonstop flights between those two cities at the same time on Hawaiian and Alaska airlines are currently in the mid to high $400s.
Nonstop flights from Oakland to Maui launch in April with the same $49 one-way fares. (If you have your eyes on the Big Island, you’ll be able to start flying from Oakland to Kona, with a connection in Honolulu, in May for as little as $158 round-trip.)
Flights from San Jose are on sale now, with departures starting in May for $79 one-way to Honolulu and $49 return fares, for a round-trip total of less than $130. To fly that same route on Delta would cost you about $340 with layovers or around $440 for a nonstop flight on Alaska or Hawaiian.
Southwest also launched inter-island service so customers can island hop within Hawaii. Fares from Honolulu to the airports in both Maui and the Big Island are currently on sale for as low as $29 one way.
As with any fare on Southwest, all of these deals include two free checked bags and no change fees. While these $49 fares aren’t likely to be the norm for Southwest’s flights to Hawaii, financial experts predict that the low-cost carrier could eventually lower the cost of flights to Hawaii from the West Coast by around 30 percent on other airlines as well, making it easier than ever to take a tropical trip. >> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Hawaii