This report is covering a Hawaiian interisland flight I took on Southwest Airlines, from Kahului to Honolulu. Personally, I live in the Seattle area, but my family and I visit the Maui area for vacation every so often. The day before we left (we took a Delta 757-200 from SEA to OGG and back), we decided to take a day trip to Honolulu to see the island and visit my aunt, who lives on Oahu, so I started looking for flights there. Being 4 days before departure, I wasn’t sure that fares were going to be very cheap, but I decided to look anyways.
Changing gears a bit, Southwest started flights to Hawaii on March 17, 2019 with much fanfare. In late April, they started interisland flights as well from Honolulu to Kahului and Kona, with four flights each. At the time of my flights, Southwest had these two interisland flights, plus Honolulu/Kahului-Oakland/San Jose, although they will start service to Hilo and Lihue and more mainland flights this winter. When shopping for flights, I was personally hoping to take Hawaiian in order to get another ride on the elusive Boeing 717, but I was open to taking Southwest instead, given the novelty of flying them interisland because of how new they are to the market. Upon a cursory search of Google Flights and Southwest’s website, I learned that Hawaiian was in the $120-140 round-trip range, but Southwest was only $78 RT, so my choice was obvious, and I immediately snapped up these tickets for my parents and I.
My itinerary for this day trip was as follows:
June 29, 2019: WN 325, dep. OGG 8:15 am, arr. HNL 8:55 am, Boeing 737-800 June 29, 2019: WN 319, dep. HNL 7:45 pm, arr. OGG 8:30 pm, Boeing 737-800
On the day of departure, I woke up at about 5:30 am. After getting ready, my parents and I got to the airport, parking at Kahului Airport's on-site lot at about 6:45. At this time of day, the terminal wasn't terribly busy. The vast majority of flights were other interisland Hawaiian flights, and the only Southwest departures were my flight and an Oakland one. Since we weren't checking bags, check-in went by rather quickly. Security took about 10 minutes, so we were airside by about 6:55 am. Needing breakfast (and energy because I was planning on hiking up Diamond Head in a few hours), I stopped at Starbucks for an egg sandwich and coffee. Kahului Airport is partially open-air, so there was good views from the terminals. The downside of this though is that it can get very warm in certain areas at times, like it was before my redeye flight home. Afterwards, I proceeded to my gate about 15 minutes before boarding started. Here's my 7 year-old 737-800 that took me to Honolulu, N8309C. It had recently gotten painted in Southwest's new livery and retrofitted with the new cabin. The gate area was a bit crowded, so I was glad that I waited at Starbucks for as long as possible.
Southwest Flight 325: OGG to HNL
At 7:50, I boarded. I had paid $15 for EarlyBird check-in to get a good boarding spot, and getting A21, I chose seat 9A forward of the wing. I personally like Southwest's new seats, they feel comfortable, have good legroom, and look aesthetically pleasing. We pushed back 4 minutes before schedule, at 8:11 am. During our taxi to the runway we got treated with some more nice views of the Maui countryside. There was no line for takeoff, and at 8:19 am we rocketed out from Kahului Airport, passing the coastline about 15 seconds into flight.
As you might have noticed in the video, our takeoff and climb-out was quite steep. We hit 10,000 feet about 3 minutes into the flight, and cabin service started 5 minutes in. For this short hop, plastic cartons of Ocean Spray juice, some poured cups of ice water on a tray, and bags of pretzels were being offered, which I found adequate and competitive with Hawaiian, who served POG (Passion-Orange-Guava) juice and water on the same route (not that anyone's really choosing who to fly on such a short route based on the snack offerings). You could tell that the FAs were working hard to serve everyone in the ~15 minutes they had to do so, and they finished during descent right before approaching HNL, which was quite impressive. Passing by the northwestern tip of Maui. Flying over the island of Lanai, population 3,102, about halfway through the flight. Just for kicks, I decided to check out Southwest's streaming entertainment. They had a selection of streaming movies and TV, and a moving map, but given the flight time I just glanced at the map for a minute or two. Before I knew it, we started our descent into the Honolulu area. Turning on final to HNL. First view of Oahu, about a minute before landing. We approached Honolulu from the west on this flight. Flying over what I believe is Hickam AFB, located on HNL property. At 8:40, after 21 minutes in flight, we touched down at Daniel K. Inouye Int'l Airport.
We parked at gate G7, a newly-renovated part of Concourse G at HNL specifically for Southwest flights. These were hardstand gates, but as an avgeek I didn't mind. Deplaning. A few terminal shots of Southwest's Honolulu facilities, which are much more modern than the rest of the airport. After meeting up with my parents, we all took the Wiki-Wiki shuttle bus to baggage claim (my only gripe with the Southwest terminal is that it's so far away from the rest of the airport), headed over to the cell phone lot, met up with my aunt, and we were off on our way. I'll include some photos of Diamond Head and Oahu below in the bonus section if you'd like to check that out. To wrap up this report, I'll share the FR24 stats and routing of my flight.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Kahului - OGG
Honolulu - HNL
All in all, I really liked flying Southwest on this trip, and I think they're a formidable competitor to Hawaiian in this market. The fares offered on this route are incredibly reasonable, and the FAs were friendly and provided good service. I particularly found their determination to serve all passengers food and drink on a 21-minute flight quite impressive, and given how many times they thanked the passengers for flying with them, you could tell that they were still very enthusiastic about their much-publicized Hawaiian flights. Some may lament the lack of assigned seating, but it isn't very important on short interisland flights IMO and Southwest offers EarlyBird as a work-around to that problem. The terminal facilities were also fine overall, with Kahului's being unremarkable and Honolulu being new but isolated. I wouldn't hesitate to fly Southwest on this route again, and I think that they'll slowly but surely build up a niche in the Hawaiian market over time. Thank you for reading my Flight-report, and feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comment section.
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