OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- The first Southwest Airlines flight to Hawaii took off from Oakland International Airport on Sunday morning. People aboard were pretty excited, but it will also affect everyone traveling to the islands.
When the flight lifted off on its way to Honolulu, it marked the beginning of Southwest's service to Hawaii. But before that, there was a traditional "Aloha" sendoff including music and dancers, a traditional "lei" greeting and even a ceremonial island blessing of the flight, including the aircraft itself.
But what had everyone so excited were the prices. It's called the "Southwest effect"--anywhere the airline flies to, prices drop.
"I've watched some of the airlines that compete with Southwest or that have been flying to Hawaii and they've dropped their prices already in HALF!" said Robert Carner, a Southwest frequent flier.
Executive Vice President Andrew Watterson said he believes the cost of Hawaiian flights will eventually decrease by about 20% because Southwest has entered the market. On Sunday, tickets were as cheap as $49 each way.
"We actually issued a press release and the seats were sold out within seconds," Watterson said. "So, we were going to have a whole marketing campaign for the sale, but the seats were gone, so we just celebrated!"
Nino Terrenal sent his partner Jolyn Ching, who's from Hawaii, on the mad dash to buy tickets.
"When I heard about it, like, her phone's blowing up…so, I just said, 'Get the tickets!'" Terrenal said.
They missed out on the $49 deal but got theirs for $99 instead, along with another popular Southwest perk: two free check-in bags.
Southwest estimates normal ticket prices will hover around $200. But it's also a great deal for Oakland International as people will fly in from all around the country to hop the cheap flight to the islands.
On Sunday, Hawaiian Airlines reportedly added a daily flight from Honolulu to San Francisco International Airport, which will begin service in October using a new Airbus A321neo aircraft. This will be the third daily flight between Honolulu and SFO, according to The Garden Island, a newspaper in Kauai.
"We are delighted to offer our Bay Area guests another option to experience our award-winning hospitality on the way to Honolulu aboard the comfort of new Airbus A321neo aircraft," said Brent Overbeek, senior vice president of revenue management and network planning at Hawaiian.
The airline said it currently serves 500,000 fliers yearly to Hawaii from the Bay Area.
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