Southwest’s First Test Flight to Hawaii Is En Route — Here’s How to Follow It

Feb 5, 2019

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Southwest’s first-ever test flight to Hawaii is officially underway.

The carrier confirmed it would operate its first test flight to Hawaii on Tuesday, the next step it must take in order to get certified to fly over the ocean to the islands. An airline flying twinjets, like Southwest does, needs to go through an Extended Range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration to launch flights over oceans.

The test flight, #WN8725 operated by an 6-year-old Boeing 737-800, took off from California’s Oakland International Airport (OAK) just after 11am PST. It is slated to land in Honolulu (HNL) at 2:27pm local time, according to tracking site FlightRadar24.

The plane will only have FAA inspectors and crew members from Southwest’s ETOPS team, including ETOPS-trained pilots, on board, and the goal is to demonstrate in real life Southwest’s long-range navigation and communication procedures and equipment. It is “not a regular, scheduled flight,” the airline emphasized.

FlightRadar24 showed the Southwest flight venturing into territory where no Southwest flight has been before. You can track the flight here.

As TPG‘s Summer Hull reported in January, Southwest said to expect roughly a six-week to two-month window from when the FAA resumes the ETOPS process 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.

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.

With Hawaii coming closer and closer into range with Southwest, it could be a good idea to apply for one of the Southwest co-branded 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.

Photo courtesy of Southwest.

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