United adds even more flights to Hawaii, bringing its summer 2021 route total to 21

Feb 12, 2021

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If you’re looking for an island escape, United has you covered with 21 routes to Hawaii this summer.

On Friday, the Chicago-based carrier announced its newest Hawaii route between Orange County, California, and Honolulu, which is set to take off on May 6.

The Orange County flight will fly once daily in each direction on a 126-seat Boeing 737-700, taking off at 8:30 a.m. local time and arriving in Honolulu (HNL) at 11:30 a.m. The return flight is slated to depart at 12:50 p.m. and arrive in California at 9:10 p.m.

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Flights will be available for purchase starting on Saturday, Feb. 13, at United.com or through the carrier’s mobile app.

Flyers based in Southern California looking for a summer escape will likely appreciate the new United connection. Orange County hasn’t had nonstop Hawaii service in nearly nine years, per Cirium schedules.

Turns out, United was the last carrier to operate flights in the market, technically making Friday’s announcement a route resumption.

United inherited two legacy Continental routes, one from SNA to HNL and another from SNA to Maui/Kahului (OGG) when the carriers merged in 2010. United stopped the Maui flight in January 2012, followed by the Honolulu one six months later.

Now, the carrier is relaunching the flight in the midst of a pandemic that’s dealt a devastating blow to the industry. Many airlines, United included, have added a host of point-to-point routes bypassing traditional hubs in a bid to capture the limited amount of traffic flying these days.

The Orange County to Honolulu connection technically fits the bill — neither airport is a United hub. However, unlike the carrier’s 17 new seasonal routes to Florida, this one is slated to operate year-round.

United is betting that there’s enough demand to warrant a daily nonstop in the market. (Three of the carrier’s new Florida routes were cut earlier than planned.)

Two United pilots celebrating the launch of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program (Photo by Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

More: United’s return to New York-JFK has been delayed a second time

Department of Transportation data analyzed by Cirium showed roughly 50 daily passengers flying between SNA and Hawaii in 2019, paying an average fare of $260. Of course, that’s much less than the capacity of a 737, but with most international countries closed and travelers looking for outdoor-focused destinations, perhaps United can make it work. Plus, the route may appeal to flyers based in the greater Los Angeles metro area who live closer to SNA than LAX.

In addition to Orange County, United is doubling down on Hawaii from two of its hubs. First announced in September 2020, the carrier has reaffirmed its commitment to start flying two brand-new domestic long-haul routes, one from Chicago (ORD) to Kona (KOA) and another from Newark (EWR) to Maui.

Both flights will begin on June 3 and will be operated four times weekly on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Additionally, United is planning to resume two of its flagship Hawaii routes come the summer. Service from both Newark and Washington/Dulles (IAD) to Honolulu was suspended due to the pandemic, but both are on the docket to take off once again. United confirmed to TPG that the Newark route restarts on Saturdays in March, while the Washington route is slated to resume in the summer.

More: Here’s everything visitors to Hawaii need to know

The boost in Hawaii flying comes as the state is once again open to tourism. Travelers looking to avoid the mandatory 10-day quarantine need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken from a state-approved provider within 72 hours of departure of the final leg to Hawaii.

United’s “Travel-Ready Center” and CLEAR’s new Health Pass are two mobile-friendly tools that aim to streamline the pandemic-era travel experience. For Hawaii flights, travelers can book eligible tests through the United portal, and then upload them to the Health Pass to generate a QR code that acts as a pre-approval to skip the quarantine.

Featured photo by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

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