13 February 2013

Airlines - Hawaiian Airlines to Asia with a free stop in paradise

When you think of travel to Asia, Hawaiian Airlines doesn't normally come to mind.  After all, there is a lot of water between Hawaii and the islands and mainland of east Asia.

Yet Hawaiian Airlines has been slowly but surely adding service to Asia (and Australia) and now offers a nice array of destinations served nonstop from Honolulu including Tokyo (Haneda airport), Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Seoul, Manila, Sydney, and Brisbane.  Service to Taipei begins in July.

Hawaiian Airlines route map   (link to map on airline's website)

From the mainland, Hawaiian offers flights to Honolulu from all major cities on the west coast, plus Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and a very long nonstop flight from New York Kennedy.

Nonstop flights from the west coast to Asia and Australia are very long, ranging from 11 to 14+ hours.  On the one hand it's nice to get to your destination in one big bite, but for many people it is simply too long to be cooped up in the air.  Breaking the trip into two pieces, results in two smaller bites: 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours to Honolulu from the west coast gateway airports, and then 9 to 11 hours from there to Asia or Australia.

Hawaiian Airlines sweetens what for some would be a disadvantage in having to make a connection (or in some cases a forced overnight due to flights from the mainland not scheduled to connect with flights to Asia), by allowing a free stopover in Honolulu both coming and going.

For those of you who haven't read my Airline Fare School chapter about stopovers this means that instead of paying two separate fares (for example: San Francisco to Honolulu and then Honolulu to Seoul) you would pay the through fare (San Francisco to Seoul).  This is good, because breaking the fare into two pieces often results in a higher total price.

Normally for international travel, a stop of more than 24 hours means that the fare must be broken, but with the free Honolulu stopover it won't matter.  (You will incur some small additional cost in extra tax, however.)

Think about how nice it would be to break a long trip with a stop in Honolulu.  Or maybe you have a business trip to Asia that on the return you would like to cap with a Hawaiian vacation.

One limitation to be aware of is that the fare routing only allows for travel through Honolulu.  If you wanted to go to Maui, Kauai, the big island, etc., you would need to fly in and out of Honolulu, and purchase separate inter-island connecting flights.