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.

Southwest focus cities within range of Honolulu.

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.

Bottom Line

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:

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.