United is making a big grab for the lucrative Hawaii market, adding 11 new nonstops from the mainland, and adding even more lie-flat seats on overnight flights. It is also making its Denver hub a major, year-round gateway to Hawaii from the midwest.
More flights usually results two things important to frequent travelers: lower fares and more opportunities to redeem points to get to paradise. However, demand for Hawaii trips has increased so much recently that the additional capacity might not result in significantly lower fares or redemptions. Time will tell. However, it never hurts to set up fare alerts and keep an eye out for cheaper mileage redemptions in light of this announcement.
With the addition of the 11 flights, United says that it now offers the most flights between the mainland and Hawaii than any other carrier.
But flights to Hawaii are not cheap! Looking at August roundtrips in United economy class, Chicago-Maui and Denver-Maui are running a cool $1,400. Houston-Maui is $930. Cheapest SFO-Maui is $460, and LAX-Maui is about $570.
Starting this summer, all overnight flights between Hawaii and Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark and Washington will have lie-flat seats up front. (Hawaiian Airlines is now offering lie-flat seats on some of its mainland-to-Hawaii flights. American recently added lie-flat seats on flights between Honolulu, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Delta flies lie-flat between ATL and Honolulu. United has had lie-flat seats on its SFO-Lihue 757 flights for a while now, but it appears that those flights, as well as most all non-Honolulu flights will be be served with 737s from SFO.)
Here’s what’s coming starting December 20 (these are in addition to existing Honolulu flights):
- Denver’s seasonal flights to Kona, Lihue and Maui will convert to daily, year-round service.
- From San Francisco, Maui nonstops increase from three to five times per day. Lihue increases to two per day. Kona increases from twice to three times per day.
- Chicago-Maui service increases to 5x per week, up from 3x.
- From Los Angeles, Kona and Maui get three flights per day, up from two and Hilo gets daily roundtrips
How do you fly to Hawaii? Have you been lately? How much did you pay…or how many miles did you redeem to get there? I recently snagged SFO-LIH for 45,000 United miles, which felt like a steal. You?