After many years of speculation, sixteen months ago Southwest finally announced they would fly to Hawaii. How long have we been waiting? In December 2010 they advertised for an ETOPS manager suggesting they were planning long overwater flights.
They have yet to begin selling tickets but details of their plans have been trickling out ever since. Last year they confirmed several Hawaii routes: Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento will see Hawaii service and they’ll fly to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and Kona.
And we know they think their credit card will get a whole lot more attractive when people can spend their points to fly to Hawaii. Nearly 14% of the airline’s seats are taken up by passengers redeeming Rapid Rewards tickets.
Southwest Airlines no longer serves peanuts but I do like getting Wheat Thins with drink service, pretzels not as much.
The airline had said that even though they’re introducing Hawaii flying, the service elements would remain the same. Their galleys aren’t equipped with ovens so hot meals are out of the question without a major retrofit of aircraft, and while they sell cocktails on board they don’t offer food for sale.
Southwest has flown cross country flights, and the length of West Coast – Hawaii is similar. They didn’t see the need to change up service for Baltimore – Los Angeles, Oakland – Honolulu flight is only 80 miles farther.
Still it turns out that Southwest will bolster their complimentary snack service a bit, offering:
- “a snack bag filled with Wheat Thins, pretzels, cheese spread, fruit snacks and … Tic Tacs.”
- an hour prior to arrival Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies
- new Hawaii-inspired drinks on board: Minute Maid pineapple orange juice, Blue Chair Bay coconut spiced rum, and Kona Longboard Island Lager.
According to an internal Southwest Airlines memo they’re doing this because “customers will want to be immersed in the Hawaiian culture as soon as they board our aircraft.”
It’s not Zoës Kitchen and you’re definitely going to want to eat before your Southwest flight to Hawaii or bring something on board with you. But it’s nice to see them differentiating their soon-to-launch service to the Islands.
United Airlines used to offer glamorous service to Hawaii and indeed until just a few years ago most flights featured the “Halfway to Hawaii game” where you could win a bottle of champagne.
Passengers would be invited to guess the exact time they’d be halfway across the ocean to Hawaii. Some would just take a close enough guess by listening to the pilot’s announced flight time, cutting it in half, and adding that to the departure time.
However others took it as a more complex math problem factoring information from the captain such as the altitude they’d be flying; flight time; takeoff time; total trip distance; air speed; and headwinds. There was even an app for calculating this. At one point they would give away a Fodor’s travel guide. I’m not aware of the game being played any longer.
United went looking for a sponsor to pay them to do this during the Smisek era effort to cut $2 billion in costs that was given the Newspeak name ‘Project Quality.’
That’s too bad. Passengers are usually in a festive mood as they head out to Hawaii. There’s something special about these flights. And it’s nice when airlines recognize that, even in a modest way.