Honolulu, HI

Whatever Happened to Those Non-stop Southwest Flights Between Austin and Honolulu?

Melinda Crow

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Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

AUSTIN, TEXAS-- In April, we reported on the launch of a new non-stop route from Austin Bergstrom to Honolulu. Flights HA81 and HA82 (the return) were to operate non-stop between Texas and Hawaii through the first week of August at fares that were quite reasonable.

The company had a big Texas-style shindig at the airport and the first flight departed on April 29. It's unclear how long the non-stop route remained operational, or how many Texans were able to take advantage, but at some point, the flights simply disappeared. Today, in the midst of the travel season peak, no flight HA81 departed for Honolulu.

We checked both the flight status tool on the website for the specific flights and for all flights between the two cities today. All flights involve either one or two stops, and all with plane changes. And the company's route finder shows non-stop flights to the Hawaiian Islands originating in Phoenix, Las Vegas, or the six West Coast cities that have always carried the bulk of the island transfers.

If you don't mind changing planes, the fares are still quite reasonable. A roundtrip ticket can be had for as low as $600 per person for the rest of July, before dropping to as low as $450 per person roundtrip for select dates in August. Beyond August, fares steadily climb to as high as $1,500 per person for peak travel dates, but with occasional lower fares for mid-week travel.

Hawaiian Airlines still serving non-stop flights

The other player in the picture is the popular Hawaiian Airlines, which does still offer non-stop flights between AUS and HNL. Of course, the fares are a bit steeper. Our search for non-stop flights next week turned up $1,300 as the lowest option in the main cabin, plus baggage fees, which Southwest does not charge (for the first two bags). As with Southwest, late July and August had far better fares. We found roundtrip fares as low as $436 scattered throughout the late summer and early fall calendar.

COVID testing lifts today for vaccinated travelers

Flying to Hawaii gets easier as of today for passengers with a valid vaccination card showing full vaccination status fifteen days prior to travel. Unvaccinated passengers must still provide proof of a negative test result prior to arrival. You can stay up to date on all protocols for flying to the islands here.

But then there's the car rental dilemma

We checked car rental prices for Honolulu and found the sticker shock was not quite as bad as we had expected. There were cars available throughout the rest of July, with rates beginning in the $100 per day range. Oddly, as the price of flights drops in August, the cost of renting a car seem to rise. We found rates beginning in the $130 range throughout August, before dropping slightly for September and October. Rates for November jump back up to the $140 range for the smallest compacts.

Don’t rule out flying to Kona

Unless you have your heart set on the sites of Oahu and Honolulu, consider hitting the Big Island of Hawaii instead. It's possible you could save a few dollars, and the island as a whole is far less touristy and crowded than Oahu. Flights between Austin and Kona are as low as $400 roundtrip in August on Southwest. Since you can't get to Hawaii non-stop on Southwest from here anyway, you might as well pick your island.

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Waco, TX
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