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the ultimate Guide to Hawaii Interisland Flights
Over the years, I’ve created a lot of ultimate guides around here. Today, I will share the ultimate guide to Hawaii interisland flights. It’s such a simple thing, but I get so many questions about it that I thought it was time to write a guide on how to get between islands in Hawaii.
Hawaii isn’t like the continental US. You can’t hop in a car and drive over a bridge to reach different destinations. The distance is simply too far, and the water is too deep for bridges to connect Hawaiian islands.
The only available ferry will take you from the island of Maui to Lanai. That leaves Hawaii interisland flights when you are learning how to island-hop in Hawaii. Thankfully, there are quite a few interisland flight options available each day. And those flights are usually quick, with flight times of less than an hour.
It is best to plan your island hopping in Hawaii carefully. That way, you won’t lose precious vacation time sitting around waiting, whether in a plane, at the airport, or on the ground.
How many islands in Hawaii should you visit?
I always recommend choosing just one or two islands for your Hawaii vacation unless you have a lot of time. Although the flights are short, it often takes half a day to go from one island to the next. This is due to travel time to/from the airports, arriving at the airport early, going through TSA, and of course, the flight time itself.
Also, every island has so much to offer. Many Hawaii visitors think they’ll be bored visiting one island for a week, but that isn’t the case. Every island is unique and has a lot to offer.
If you’re looking to score a great flight to Hawaii, check out how to find a cheap flight to Hawaii in 2022.
DO I NEED A RENTAL CAR IN Hawaii?
No matter which island (or islands) you’ll be visiting, I recommend having a rental car; I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental.
The islands are relatively small (even the Big Island!) but spread out, and you’ll need a car to explore it all. Hawaii is not the destination where you spend all of your time at the resort.
You’ll find the best prices, excellent service, and free cancellation at Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You won’t pay until you arrive, so reserve early to get the best deal. Now, let’s get to the ultimate guide to Hawaii interisland flights.
Airlines Offering Hawaii Interisland Flights
There are currently three airlines offering Hawaiian interisland flights. Those airlines include:
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Mokulele Airlines
There were other airlines offering island-hopping flights in Hawaii in the past, but they have since stopped those flights or merged with these airlines.
Hawaiian Airlines currently offers an average of 170 flights between the Hawaiian Islands each day. A large number of flights is why this airline is the most popular amongst travelers.
Many people also choose Hawaiian Airlines for their flights over from the mainland. Since the airline is known for its excellent customer service, many travelers prefer to stay with an airline that will treat them well.
There is no arguing that Hawaiian Airlines has the prettiest planes! *Photo property of Hawaiian Airlines.*
Hawaiian airlines even offers non-stop service from some airports on the East Coast, including JFK (New York), BOS (Boston), and MCO (Orlando.)
The interisland flights you choose to take during your vacation in Hawaii will be dependent on which of the six islands you want to visit. 99% of visitors chose the main islands of Oahu, Big Island, Kauai, and Maui, and flights to these islands are easily accessible.
The current inter-island routes for Hawaiian Airlines include:
- Oahu to either Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island of Hawaii
- The Big Island of Hawaii to either Oahu, Maui, or Kauai
- Maui to either Oahu, Kauai, or the Big Island
- Kauai to either Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island
Hawaiian Airlines Neighbor Island Travel Plan
Hawaiian Airlines has a fantastic travel plan to assist with cost-saving measures when taking interisland flights. This plan can be connected to your HawaiianMiles account, which I will share more shortly.
The Hawaiian Airlines Neighbor Island Travel Plan allows you to choose from four different plans. The two lower-tiered plans are perfect for leisure travelers, while the other plans are better for business travelers.
Alahula and Kipa Hele plans
I will focus on the Alahula, and Kipa Hele plans since you probably won’t be taking the twenty-four or sixty one-way flights offered for the business plan.
With the Alahula travel plan, you receive four round-trip tickets for the islands of your choice. You must book your flights at least fourteen days in advance.
Your trip to the island must either include a Saturday night or be four nights in length. There are blackout departure times with this plan, and they are between the hours of eleven in the morning and two in the afternoon.
The Kipa Hele plan offers eight round-trip tickets to all the Hawaiian Islands. Booking is required at least seven days before your departure. This plan only requires you to stay for two nights or at least a Saturday night. The exact blackout times exist for this plan.
Both plans require you to use your round trip tickets within twelve months. The good news is that you will earn HawaiianMiles with these travel plans. So, you can save money on flights and earn miles for free flights simultaneously! I think I’m seeing another Hawaiian vacation in your future…
The HawaiianMiles Program
The HawaiianMiles Program allows you to earn miles according to the distance you fly instead of the money you pay for your tickets. Your miles with this plan will never expire, and they can be redeemed for any seat within the main cabin.
Another way to earn even more miles with HawaiianMiles is to sign up for their credit or debit card.
Southwest Airlines is one of the newer airlines offering inter-island flights in Hawaii. As a big-name airline in the US, it is not surprising to see why many people choose Southwest for their island-hopping adventures in Hawaii.
The current interisland flight routes in Hawaii via Southwest go between:
- The Big Island of Hawaii
Southwest Rapid Rewards Program
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Program will have you earning points every time you fly with the airline. Points are earned for every flight you take, and those points never expire. There are never any blackout dates for using your points either.
The number of points you earn for each flight will be dependent on what type of ticket you purchase. Business Select or Anytime tickets will earn you more miles than a Wanna Get Away ticket.
Earning more points with Southwest is easy with their Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card.
More than 120 flights each day between the Hawaiian Islands via Mokulele Airlines.
If you’re looking for a quick flight (and don’t have much luggage), Mokulele is the most convenient option. With no TSA check (you read that right), you can walk up to the gate and board Mokulele flights quickly.
Mokulele flies only small planes, with each seat being a window seat (and pretty large too!) The downside is that there isn’t much room for luggage, but if you’re a light packer – like me – you’ll love it.
Mokulele Airlines also flies lower than larger aircraft giving you a better view of Hawaii’s beauty. It’s almost like a helicopter tour, but cheaper. 🙂
The current Mokulele Airlines interisland flight routes in Hawaii include these islands:
- The Big Island of Hawaii
If you are ready to visit Kauai, you will need to take one of the interisland flights another airline offers. Mokulele Airlines does not currently offer service to that island.
‘Imi Loa Frequent Flyer Program
The ‘Imi Loa Frequent Flyer Program with Mokulele Airlines works differently from other airline programs. You must keep track of your flight information and then submit a form once you have personally made twelve one-way trips on Mokulele Airlines. Those trips must be made within fifteen months.
Your reward is a voucher for one free one-way flight. That flight must be taken within six months, and there are blackout dates.
Tips for Booking Hawaiian Interisland Flights
You may have become a pro at booking flights for vacations, but Hawaiian interisland flights are slightly different. Therefore, there are a few things you must keep in mind before purchasing your tickets.
Always Choose a Flight that Fits Your Schedule
Searching for the biggest bargain when flying may be the rule you go with most of the time. However, when searching for interisland flights in Hawaii, I recommend going with flights that fit your schedule. Generally speaking, the flight tends to be around the same price anyway.
It is better to consider your check-in and check-out times for your accommodations and travel time to the airport. You won’t want to leave one island early in the morning if you can’t check into your accommodations on the other island until late in the day unless you want to lug your suitcases around all day!
Although Hawaii is relatively safe, you’ll never want to keep personal belongings in your car, so I recommend that my clients travel mid-day, if possible.
Choose Your Seat Carefully
One of the best ways to see the Hawaiian Islands from a different perspective is to look at them from the window of an airplane. The planes that fly between the islands in Hawaii never reach high altitudes. Therefore, you can see the islands quite well during your flights.
A window seat will always be best, but did you know depending on where you are flying, the side you choose also matters? If you are flying from Oahu to either the Big Island of Maui, you should sit on the right side of the plane.
And if you are flying from either the Big Island of Maui to Oahu, you should choose the left side. And when you throw a flight to Kauai into the mix, there really isn’t a preference for which side you sit on.
Of course, on Mokulele Airlines, every seat is a window seat and it doesn’t matter where you sit! You don’t get to choose anyway, Mokulele Airlines assigns seats by weight.
Airports on the big island
The only island that has two major airports is the Big Island. My clients often ask me which airport to fly into, and it’s always Kona (KOA)! All of the resorts and tourist areas are on the “Kona side” or western side of the Big Island.
Hilo is more of a local town and while it’s worth a visit as there are plenty of things to do in Hilo, but it’s not somewhere where you’ll stay.
As I mentioned earlier, the islands are relatively small as as long as you have your rental car, it’s very easy to get around.
The ultimate guide to Hawaii interisland flights
This guide to Hawaii interisland flights should allow you to now understand how to island-hop in Hawaii. Did you learn anything new? Do you have even more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll make sure to answer!
While you’re here, don’t forget to check out some of my best Hawaii travel tips! Before you go, you’ll want to learn 10 things to know before going to Hawaii and 20 things you should never do in Hawaii. Learn a few Hawaiian words such as the meaning of Mahalo and other common Hawaiian words.
Want even more ultimate guides? I have those too!
- The Ultimate Guide to Maui Whale Watching
- The ultimate guide to the Road to Hana
- The ultimate guide to Upcountry Maui
Want an expert to plan your Hawaii vacation?
If you need some help planning your Hawaii vacation, reach out! I am a Hawaii Travel Agent and that is what I do. I am selective about how many clients I work with, so reach out as soon as possible for the best availability. You can contact me to learn more.
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