This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
In the summer of 2016, Boeing’s 737 MAX was merely a fascination for aviation professionals and enthusiasts — this Wednesday, Southwest took the plane mainstream. Late last night, the carrier took Twitter by storm after it posted a simple graphic on the social platform:
That’s right! Come 2018, everyone’s favorite Companion Pass carrier will fly to Hawaii. It isn’t yet clear which routes Southwest will fly first, but several will surely originate in California, likely from airports with a significant Southwest presence, like San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC) and Santa Ana (SNA). Beyond The Golden State, Las Vegas (LAS) and Phoenix (PHX) are possible candidates. As for destinations in Hawaii, we’ll surely see Honolulu, while a Southwest executive suggested Kauai and the island of Hawaii as well.
What’s more clear is the aircraft variant Southwest will utilize here — it’ll almost certainly be the new Boeing 737 MAX 8. Southwest has a whopping 170 copies on order, along with 30 MAX 7s. The airline has begun flying the MAX 8 within North America — in fact, TPG’s Emily McNutt was on the very first flight, which traveled from Dallas Love Field (DAL) to Houston Hobby (HOU) on October 1.
While it can’t operate service until it receives Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) certification from the FAA, once Southwest completes that process the MAX 8 will have more than enough range to make it from the West Coast to Hawaii.
Boeing lists the variant’s range at more than 4,000 miles, and more than 4,400 miles for the MAX 7. Theoretically, that would enable nonstop flights from Dallas and Houston, though ETOPS and other requirements for reserve fuel place those cities a bit out of reach.
Emily found the 737 MAX’s seats to be pretty comfortable, but her trip from Dallas to Houston was only a few minutes long — it’s hard to say how comfy they’ll seem after a six-hour flight from the West Coast to Hawaii.
Another potential shocker for those new to Southwest is the lack of seat-back TVs — while there’s a full-size tray table and a literature compartment, each MAX seat is otherwise bare. Instead, Southwest offers free streaming live TV and on-demand TV and movies on your own device.
The carrier also offers paid Wi-Fi on many flights, and the MAX 8 will soon be powered by Panasonic’s next-generation modem, which is expected to deliver far better performance than we’re seeing today.
Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 is one of the most comfortable narrow-body planes flying today. It’s not equipped for long-haul travel, but even six-hour trips from the West Coast to Hawaii would be doable. I can’t wait to hear more about what Southwest has planned for our 50th state!
For more on Southwest’s new Boeing 737 MAX 8, see:
- A First Look Inside Southwest’s Boeing 737 MAX 8
- Flight Review: Southwest (737 MAX 8) Inaugural Flight From Dallas to Houston
- Which Hawaii Routes Will Southwest Launch?
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 points! With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 60,000 point sign up bonus worth up to $1,200 in value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards