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Airline Tickets

Passengers on the same airplane pay a wide range of fares.  Tickets are sold for what the market will bear so smart
Hawaiian Air plane
Interisland Plane at Kona's Keahole Airport
shopping can save you a lot of money on airfares.  It takes some time and effort but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you got a bargain and can use the savings for lodging and activities in the Islands.  Note that sometimes your best buy will be a package deal that includes airfare, hotel, and car.  These are available from sources that can sometimes include two, or all three, things for less than either airfare or lodging would cost individually.  

Many airlines offer service to Hawaii.   We do not consider first-class, business-class, or full coach fares here.  Economy class fares will save you a lot of money that you can spend on other "needs" during your stay in the Islands.  These guidelines will reduce the cost when you purchase airline tickets individually or as part of a package.

Book ahead -- you will normally pay much less if you book at least 14-21 days ahead, but bargains are rarely found more than 3-4 months ahead.
A Saturday night stay is sometimes required for the lowest fares.
Avoid holidays -- The fares are usually more expensive around holidays and the airlines have black-out days so that you cannot use frequent flier miles or get discounts from coupons.
Pick the right days of the week-- generally the best fares are offered on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoon.  Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Friday travel generally costs more.
Season of the year-- tickets to Hawaii will generally be less expensive from mid-April through May and from September through mid-December.
Pick less popular flights that depart mid-morning or late evening.
Choose the same airline for all legs of your itinerary.
Keep your eye open for sales which are held periodically by the airlines.
Use the internet -- virtually all the airlines have web sites and at times fares are offered lower than those shown to their reservations agents.  Some airlines charge a fee for ticket purchase made by phone or at the airport. Many airlines offer e-mail notice of specials if you sign up for them on their web site.
Check with the airline on baggage weight, size, and the charges per bag. This information is normally available on their web site and charges per bag vary between airlines.  Also, the charges for bags over the weight limit (normally 50 pounds) or size limit can cost you an additional $25 to $80 depending on the airline.

Generally the cheaper your ticket, the tighter the restrictions.  You will almost always be charged a fee to change your flight schedule with the advance purchase discount tickets.  Make sure you know exactly what restrictions apply before you commit to buying.

Web Based " Travel Agents"
These are great because they are open 24-hours a day and don't get impatient with you if you want to make yet another change or check the price or availability for the 100th time.  Enter the dates you want to fly and the departure and arrival cities to receive fare and availability information.  Or, if you can be flexible in your schedule you will save considerably because some sites will list least expensive fares without regard to schedule so you can see how prices vary by date and time.  The least expensive fares are often less than 20% of the cost of full coach fares for the same airline and flight.  Realize, however, that some sites are biased toward specific airlines they have marketing agreements with and some do not display fares of cut-rate airlines.

We never rely on only one source to find the best fare.  Cheap Tickets, Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz are examples of internet travel sites.  We also use Kayak to research fares and purchase tickets.  Kayak searches the airline's web sites and displays
Fees charged by Internet travel sites Since airlines stopped paying commissions to Internet travel sites, Expedia, etc. charge fees of $5 to $18 per ticket to make a profit. Recently however, these sites are also advertising no booking fees added.  Many airlines advertise "you won't find a lower fare anywhere else" realizing other sources have to charge a fee.
their fares.  The advantage is that if an airline lists internet specials only on their own site, Kayak will show you those fares while other internet travel sites we have used do not.  You can do the same thing by checking 10-15 airline web sites, but using Kayak is much faster.  If you click the "Select" button for a flight, you are presented with a list of airlines and fares. When you click "Go" for an airline you are automatically connected to the airline's own web site to purchase the ticket.  However, continue to do your research because we still occasionally find lower fares on other sites.

Priceline can sometimes provide lower fares if you want to bid for your tickets.  We have not used the site
Save money with Split-ticketing: Unless we want to stop over in a city along the way, most of us would rather take non-stop flights. It may take a little time, but checking the cost of two round trip tickets instead of one non-stop flight can sometimes save you money. Here's an example:
  • If you're flying from Chicago to Honolulu, compare the cost of a round trip ticket from Chicago to Los Angeles or San Francisco, plus a second round trip ticket from there to Honolulu. The total of the two tickets compared to the cost of a non-stop ticket is sometimes hundreds of dollars less.
  • Even flying from the West Coast, we've seen numerous times when flying from Los Angeles, or an outlying airport, to San Francisco and from there to Honolulu is more than $100 less expensive than flying directly from Los Angeles to Honolulu. If the whole family is traveling, the $100 per ticket adds up quickly.
because of their "blind" booking method where you are told the airline and schedule only after picking dates and paying for the tickets, which are nonrefundable.  If your schedule is totally flexible, it might work for you. 

Interisland Airlines  
Four airlines offer scheduled service between the Hawaiian Islands.  Hawaiian Airlines is the old standby for inter-island travel since Aloha Airlines went out of business but Island Air, go! Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines also offer inter-island service between the major islands.  Flights to Molokai and Lanai are less frequent and cost somewhat more.  When you are traveling between several islands on one trip you can sometimes purchase coupon books for multiple flights at a discount. 
Hawaiian Airlines was Hawaii's first inter-island airline and offers jet service between the islands, as well as service from several mainland cities.  They fly Boeing 717 aircraft which are full-sized jet planes as opposed to the regional jets and turboprop planes used by the other inter-island airlines. 
Island Air flies Dash-8 aircraft that are turboprop and carry 37 passengers.  Although it takes a little longer to get between the islands, they fly lower than the jets and mention that passengers can see more of the scenery on flights.
go! Airlines
flies regional jets that seat 50 passengers, which is fewer than the Boeing 717's flown by Hawaiian Airlines.  There are no middle seats, it's two seats on each side of the aisle.
Mokulele Airlines  offers turboprop service between the islands.  Their commuter flights use Cessna Caravans that hold only nine passengers so some will not care to fly on a small propeller driven plane instead of a jet engine. 

Any of the airlines will do baggage transfer for you in either direction.  Just tell the ticket agent when you check-in you want to check your baggage through to your final destination.  However, on departing from a neighbor island and connecting to a mainland flight on another island be sure your luggage goes through the agriculture screening or you will have to retrieve your bags, have them screened, and recheck them.  This especially applies to the smaller airports so be sure to check because at Molokai, Lanai, and the West Maui airports, agricultural screening may not be available. 

We are pleased to see multiple airlines offering alternatives for inter-island travel.  We've seen a number of low-fare airlines come and go in Hawaii over the past 25 years.  When it was only Hawaiian and Aloha, the inter-island fares were high and not competitive. 

We've flown Island Air and were pleased with their service.  We've also heard good reports about go! and Mokulele, so you might want to give them a try. 

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