Hawaiian Airlines: 7 things to know before you fly


Money expert Clark Howard says that competition in the airline industry has made Hawaii a hot destination right now for travelers looking for a good deal. If you’ve searched online for a ticket, no doubt you’ve run across Hawaiian Airlines.

Just in the last decade, Hawaiian Airlines has gone from a small island-focused carrier to a premiere airline for flights to Hawaii from North America, Asia and the lower Pacific.

Hawaiian started in 1929 as Inter-Island Airways, taking fliers on short sightseeing flights over Oahu. Nearly 90 years later, the airline is in the midst of its 13th straight year of passenger growth and going through an unprecedented fleet expansion that will give it an even bigger presence on West Coast routes to the Pacific.

Looking to fly Hawaiian Airlines? Here are 7 things to know before you book your flight

According to the airline, 53% of its passengers come from North America, underlining the island’s strong appeal as a tourism destination. If you’ve never flown Hawaiian Airlines or you’re thinking of booking a ticket again in the near future, here are some important things to know about the carrier:

1. Where does Hawaiian Airlines fly?

Hawaiian offers nonstop flights to Hawaii from 12 major “gateway” cities: Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New York City (JFK), Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. The airline also services routes to and from JapanSouth KoreaChinaAustraliaNew ZealandAmerican Samoa and Tahiti. Between the Hawaiian islands alone, the airline has about 170 flights every day. There are more than 250 daily flights system-wide.

When it comes to international flights, Hawaiian offers nonstop service to these 10 Asian and South Pacific destinations from Honolulu: Auckland, Beijing, Brisbane, Osaka, Pago Pago, Papeete, Sapporo, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo.

The company is absolutely giddy about its new partnership with Japan Airlines, which will give the American airliner a boost in Asian markets. A code-share pact gives Hawaiian Airlines full access to Japan Airlines’ domestic network and Asian gateways.

2. Where is Hawaiian Airlines based?

The airline’s corporate headquarters as well as principal hangar and cargo maintenance facilities are located at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

Unlike other major carriers, Hawaiian Airlines does not operate under the typical hub city business model. Honolulu and Maui simply don’t have the populations to support a built-in network of constant travelers. The airline is largely dependent on fliers from the mainland. As a result, the carrier relies on extensive code-share agreements with partner airlines to provide customers access to international destinations that are are not served by Hawaiian Airlines.

3. How are Hawaiian Airlines’ booking fares classed?

Hawaiian Airlines has two main fare classes for booking: First Class and Economy. First class, as per usual, receives in-flight amenities like complimentary meals and beverages (yes, cocktails, beer or wine) and complimentary use of headsets for audio/visual entertainment.


For the Economy seats in the main cabin, passengers also receive complimentary meals and beverages (sorry, no cocktails, beer or wine) and you can typically rent headsets for audio/visual entertainment.

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For more money, passengers can choose Extra Comfort seats, which gives them more legroom. If your flight is not full, you may be able to benefit from this upgrade for free.

4. What is HawaiianMiles, Hawaiian Airline’s frequent flyer program?

Hawaiian Airline’s frequent flyer program is called HawaiianMiles, which offers perks like the ability to manage your trips online and earn miles to redeem them for flights. You can even share them with friends and family.

Because of frequent flyer agreements, you can also earn miles on the following carriers: All Nippon Airways, China Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Korean Airlines, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia airlines.

5. How much does Hawaiian Airlines charge for bags?

Baggage fees: Your first checked bag will cost $25 and your second checked bag will be $35. If you’re a HawaiianMiles member, you get a discount on your first bag ($10 off) as well as the second ($15 off) if traveling wholly within the state of Hawaii.

Your checked bags can’t weigh more than 50 pounds and must fall under the following maximum dimensions: (length + width + height): 62 linear inches (157 cm). The fee is $50 for three or more checked bags.

Carry-on bags: Travelers can bring on board one full-sized carry-on bag plus one personal item free of charge. The carry-on must be no larger than 22″ length x 14″ width x 9″ height (45 linear inches) and weigh under 25 pounds.

If you’re traveling with small children, you’ll get some carry-on exemptions for strollers, car seats and infant carrying seats.

What is Hawaiian Airlines' baggage fee?


6. How do customers view Hawaiian Airline’s service?

Hawaiian Airlines continues to receive stellar marks for customer service. In its 2017 investor report, Board of Directors Chairman Lawrence Hershfield said that over the past 12 months the airline had “maintained our position as the most punctual airline in the United States and continued to receive acclaim for our unparalleled hospitality. As we say in Hawai’i, ‘it’s a kakou thing,’ that is, ‘we all contribute’.”

Hawaiian has been a perennial leader among U.S. carriers in on-time performance for more than a decade as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Figures from a January 2018 DOT report show the airline was only bested by JetBlue.

7. How to save money on Hawaiian Airlines

Because Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, savings are typically dictated by seasonal factors like time of year and holiday travel patterns. So you might be asking “When is the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii?” Here are some ways to save money when flying Hawaiian.

  • Fly in January, February and March: Weak demand during the winter months of the first quarter means you’ll most likely to score a low airfare. The airline says in its annual report: “We may adjust our pricing or the availability of particular fares to obtain an optimal passenger load factor depending on seasonal demand differences.”
  • Don’t fly in June, July, August and December: Hawaiian Airlines is increasingly dependent on these four travel months to meet its bottom line. You’ll find fares higher in the summer and during the December holidays. To save money, fly any other time of year.
  • Special offers: Frequently check Hawaiian Airlines’ Special Offers page, which gives you fares from key mainland cities as well as days to travel for the lowest prices. There’s also a deals page for travel among the Neighbor Islands.

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