Southwest Airlines becomes latest carrier to trim Hawaii flying
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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Would you be willing to wear a tracking bracelet for a vacation in paradise?
Southwest Airlines doesn’t necessarily seem to think many of its passengers would, if recent changes to its Hawaii schedules are any indication.
The Dallas-based carrier cut a chunk of its Hawaii flying over the weekend for March 2021 to May 2021, per Cirium schedules and confirmed by the carrier, seemingly in response to the state’s stringent entry rules.
Specifically, the airline won’t fly from the mainland to Lihue, Kauai for the three aforementioned months. The routes that were cut include:
- Oakland (OAK) – Lihue (LIH)
- San Jose (SJC) – Lihue (LIH)
This leaves just one interisland route — from Honolulu (HNL) to Lihue (LIH) — as the carrier’s only service to Kauai from March to May. For now, the mainland routes are slated to resume in June, but that’s, of course, subject to change.
Though most Hawaiian islands will exempt you from a mandatory quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test, Kauai is an exception. The lush Garden Isle of Hawaii opted out of the state’s pre-travel testing program in early December, meaning that all travelers to the island would be forced to undergo a 10-day quarantine.
However, in early January, Kauai launched a “resort bubble” concept, somewhat easing the quarantine requirements.
As part of the program, travelers still need to get a pre-travel test. After arrival, you’ll be transported to one of six designated resorts, where you’re free to move around the property for the first 72 hours on the island. However, you’ll need to wear a tracking bracelet to ensure you don’t leave the resort.
After the 72 hour mark, participants can get another coronavirus test on the property at their expense. If they are negative, then they’re free to move about the rest of the island — a process that TPG’s Clint Henderson recently experienced firsthand.
This arduous system has clearly suppressed much of the demand to travel to Kauai. In November 2020 — the last month with publicly available data — the island saw 28,487 visitors, roughly 73% fewer than a year prior.
As such, it’s no surprise to see Southwest continue to cut its Lihue flying. If you’re still committed to getting to the island, Southwest will continue offering multiple one-stop options through Honolulu.
Southwest’s competitors have also made similar moves to trim flights to Kauai. American Airlines just loaded its March 2021 schedule this past weekend and cut over 30% of its Lihue routes, leaving just Los Angeles and Phoenix with daily connections, according to Cirium schedules.
From January 2021 to March 2021, U.S. carriers, save for Southwest, have scheduled nearly 60% fewer mainland flights to Lihue than the same time period in 2019, well before the pandemic.
Maui, on the other hand, hasn’t seen nearly the same level of reductions. Comparing the same periods, flights are down just 14% compared to the pre-pandemic highs.
As such, it’s pretty clear that airlines don’t think flyers are ready to don a tracking bracelet for a few days at the beach.
Featured photo by Angel DiBilio/Shutterstock
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees