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Southwest Airlines’ first test flight in its quest to launch routes to Hawaii landed at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) Tuesday afternoon local time.

The Boeing 737-800 was being tested as part of the Extended Range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration to launch flights over oceans. There were only FAA inspectors and Southwest ETOPS crew on the flight.

A Southwest Airlines 737 800 flight lands for the first time at Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
A Southwest Airlines 737 800 flight lands for the first time at Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)

Flight WN8275 landed at HNL at 2:50pm local time after taking off from California’s Oakland International Airport (OAK). When the plane stopped on the tarmac, Honolulu’s iconic Diamond Head volcanic cone was visible off in the distance.

Southwest employees greeted the 738 with Hawaiian leis and group cheer.

Southwest Airlines crew celebrate their inaugural flight to Hawaii at the Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
Southwest Airlines crew celebrate their inaugural flight to Hawaii at the Honolulu International Airport. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
Southwest Airlines crew celebrate after landing for the first time at the Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
Southwest Airlines crew celebrate after landing for the first time at the Honolulu International Airport. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)

The airline even had a local cultural practitioner, Kalama Cabigon, to give the aircraft a Hawaiian blessing.

Hawaiian kahu Kalama Cabigon, a cultural practitioner, gives a Hawaiian blessing over the Southwest Airlines flight that landed for the first time at the Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
Hawaiian kahu Kalama Cabigon, a cultural practitioner, gives a Hawaiian blessing over the Southwest Airlines flight. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
Hawaiian kahu Kalama Cabigon, a cultural practitioner, gives a Hawaiian blessing over the Southwest Airlines flight that landed for the first time at the Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
(Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)

It seems like everything on the flight, which was to demonstrate in real life Southwest’s long-range navigation and communication procedures and equipment, went according to plan. Though, that is officially for the FAA to decide.

Next up in the certification process after Tuesday’s test flight, the carrier needs to perform more tabletop exercises with the FAA to demonstrate its full ETOPS procedures followed by additional ETOPS validation flights.

Hawaiian kahu Kalama Cabigon, a cultural practitioner, gives a Hawaiian blessing over the Southwest Airlines flight that landed for the first time at the Honolulu International Airport, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)
(Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)

But it seems that Southwest will not begin selling Hawaii tickets until all the ETOPS steps have been successfully completed.

“Once we pass all phases of the ETOPS application process to the satisfaction of the FAA and receive our ETOPS authorization,” an airlnie spokesperson told TPG, “we will announce further details of timing for selling and operating flights.”

As TPG’s Summer Hull reported in January, Southwest said to expect roughly a six-week to two-month window from when the FAA resumed  the ETOPS process after the government reopened to when Hawaii operations can begin. So if that holds true, that would mean the airline’s Hawaii flights will be taking off with passengers sometime in very late March or April.

With Hawaii coming closer and closer into range with Southwest, it could be a good idea to apply for one of the Southwest cobranded credit cards while all three personal cards are offering new card holders a valuable Companion Pass as part of the sign-up bonus (after hitting the spending requirement).

Official application links: Earn the Companion Pass and enjoy 2-for-1 travel for the rest of 2019 with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.

All photos by Marco Garcia/The Points Guy.

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