Kauai Hawaii from above

How to Get Cheap Flights to Hawaii

Hawaii on your bucket list? While it’s a beautiful place to visit, it’s also very remote. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean around 2,000 miles from the U.S mainland, Hawaii is the only U.S state that’s geographically located in the tropics. 

It takes around 6 hours to fly there from Los Angeles, 11 hours from New York and 8 hours 15 minutes from Dallas. That’s if you don’t have a stopover! 

Due to the relatively long flight time, flights to Hawaii can be rather expensive. So if you want to visit but you feel like you can’t afford the steep prices, then you might want to consider the following tricks.

In this guide I’ll show you how to get cheap flights to Hawaii, as well as providing some helpful information for surviving the flight. 

How Much are Flights to Hawaii?

Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

So how much does a plane ticket to Hawaii cost? Flight prices tend to vary according to the time of the year and where you’re flying from. 

In order to find out the prices of flights to Hawaii I ran a quick search using Google Flights. 

Flights to Honolulu from NYC cost anywhere from $484 to $1247 round-trip. Most flights seem to cost around $650-$750 round-trip.

Flights to Honolulu from Los Angeles cost from $257 to $668 round-trip. Most flights seem to cost around $300-$450.

There are of course lots of factors that affect the flight prices; the best thing to do is be flexible with your dates and look out for flash sales. 

What is the Cheapest Time of Year to Fly to Hawaii?

Oahu Hawaii

When figuring out how to get cheap flights to Hawaii, it’s best to consider the seasons. The cheapest time of year to fly to Hawaii is January and February, which is a good time to visit if you want to escape the harsh winter in other states. 

Temperatures in Hawaii are cooler during this time though, with daytime temperatures hovering around the mid-60s and 70s. There’s usually more rainfall and cloudier skies, but it’s a good time of year for surfing.

Summertime from June to August is the busiest time to visit and therefore the most expensive for flights and hotels. These months bring plenty of hot, dry weather with a lot less rainfall compared to other times of the year. 

If you want to enjoy nice weather but also score a good flight deal, then consider flying to Hawaii in spring or fall. The months of April, May, September or October are generally warm and pleasant. November and March are cheap but they’re the wettest months, so if you travel during these months you’ll need to bring a rain jacket.

What are the Main Airports in Hawaii?

There are five major airports in Hawaii. These are:

  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, also known as Honolulu International Airport, on Oahu. (HNL)
  • Kahului Airport on Maui. (OGG)
  • Lihue Airport on Kauai. (LIH)
  • Hilo International Airport on Big Island. (ITO)
  • Kona International Airport on Big Island. (KOA) 

Hawaii also has a few smaller commercial airports mainly servicing inter-island flights. If you’re traveling to Lanai you’ll fly into Lanai Airport (LNY). If you visit the island of Molokai you’ll fly into Molokai Airport (MKK).

What is the Cheapest Island to Fly to in Hawaii?

Na Pali mountain range Hawaii

The answer to this question usually depends where you’re flying from.

The cheapest international airport to fly to in Hawaii is usually Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Honolulu International Airport), which is located in Oahu. Honolulu airport is Hawaii’s largest and busiest airport and a major hub for both US and international airlines.

If you’re flying internationally, airlines such as Air New Zealand, Air Canada, ANA, Japan Airlines, Fiji Airways, Korean Air and Qantas all fly into Honolulu.

Many people choose to fly into Honolulu and then catch inter-island flights to other islands, which are usually fairly cheap.

After Oahu, the next cheapest island to fly into is usually Big Island. You can find some great flight prices to both Hilo and Kona. 

While Oahu and Big Island tend to be the cheapest Hawaiian islands to fly to, that doesn’t mean you can’t find cheap deals to other islands. Maui and Kauai are also popular and see some great fares.

Running a quick flight search for flights to Kahului from Los Angeles or New York, Google Flights is currently showing cheaper flights than when I search for flights to Honolulu. So if you’re flying from certain U.S cities, you may find that Maui is a good option.

Where is it Cheapest to Fly to Hawaii From?

Since the west coast is closest to Hawaii, it makes sense that west coast states are the cheapest to fly from, ie. California, Washington and Oregon.

You’ll find the cheapest flights to Hawaii from cities such as Seattle, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego.

Don’t live on the west coast? You can also find some good deals from major east coast cities, such as New York and Boston, as well as hubs such as Atlanta and Salt Lake City.

How to Get Cheap Flights to Hawaii

Use Flight Comparison Sites to Find the Cheapest Airlines

Google flights screenshot - how to get cheap flights to Hawaii

Before booking flights I always use flight comparison sites to find the cheapest deals. If you want to get cheap plane tickets to Hawaii, your best bet is to use Google Flights. I love Google Flights because it’s easy to use and their fare calendar makes it easy to find the cheapest dates to fly. 

From New York, the cheapest airlines that fly non-stop to Hawaii are: United, Hawaiian (codesharing with JetBlue) and Delta. 

From Los Angeles, the cheapest airlines that offer non-stop flights to Hawaii are: Hawaiian, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines. 

Aside from Google Flights, I also often check Kayak and Skyscanner. It’s worth using all three to see if you can find any cheaper deals. 

Collect Air Miles

The best way to get cheap flights to Hawaii is to collect air miles. Signing up for an air miles credit card is the quickest way to collect air miles fast. 

Personally I am loyal to Delta –  I have the Delta Skymiles Platinum Credit Card as well as the Delta Skymiles Gold Business Credit Card. This enables me to rack up air miles fairly quickly just through everyday spending. I use Delta Skymiles Shopping to get extra points when I buy stuff online and I also regularly fly with Delta. 

With Delta you can get round-trip flights to Hawaii starting at about 60,000 miles and just $12 in taxes. 

Of course, you could also sign up for frequent flyer programs with other airlines such as United, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. If you plan on being loyal to a particular airline, I recommend choosing whichever airline has the largest presence at your closest airport.

If you don’t want to sign up for an airline branded credit card, you could sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, which allows you to transfer your miles to several different airline partners. You could transfer your miles to United Airlines or Southwest and use the points to fly to Hawaii.

The American Express Gold Card is also a great option as you can transfer membership rewards points to a wide selection of airline partners, including Hawaiian Airlines, Delta and JetBlue.

By being savvy and collecting air miles, you can easily get free flights to Hawaii – you just have to pay the taxes.

Sign Up For Flight Clubs

Scott's Cheap Flights homepage screenshot

Aside from checking for flight deals yourself, you can also sign up for flight clubs, such as Scott’s Cheap Flights or Jack’s Flight Club. Scott’s Cheap Flights is U.S based whereas Jack’s Flight Club is UK based. 

Both are essentially email newsletters that send you flight deals direct to your inbox. They’ll find flash sales, cheap deals and mistake fares then send you an email with details on how to book. These types of email newsletters work best if you’re very flexible on when you’re able to fly. 

Be Flexible

In order to get cheap flights to Hawaii you’ll need to be fairly flexible with your dates. If you can be flexible with what day of the week you fly and which month you go, you’ll have a much better chance of finding a cheap fare.

It’s also a good idea to be flexible with your departure airport. You may find it’s much cheaper to fly out of a secondary airport that’s a little further away from home.

Book in Advance

You’ll also need to book well in advance. Generally the best time to book flights to Hawaii is about two to six months before departure. Prices often start steadily rising 5 months before departure but then dip around 1-2 months beforehand.

Flight prices rocket considerably in the days before departure, so don’t leave it till the last minute. Plan ahead, keep monitoring the flight prices and if you see something that looks like a good deal, make sure you jump on it.

Monitor Flight Prices

Kayak flight price alerts

When looking at flights I like to set up price alerts and monitor the prices. Google Flights, Kayak and other search engines will allow you to enter your email address in order to receive updates when the price changes.

When searching on Kayak you’ll also see a little advice box in the top left hand corner that tells you whether it’s a good time to buy or not. 

When searching flights on mobile I really like using the Hopper app as it tells you whether it’s a good time to buy the ticket, or whether you should wait. There’s also a feature that allows you to pay a small fee in order to freeze the price until your expiration date.

Avoid Peak Season & Weekends

Like most places in the U.S. the busiest time of year to visit Hawaii is from June to August when kids are off school for the summer. Flight prices tend to be at their highest during these months. December (especially around the holidays) is also a busy time, when travelers are looking to escape the depths of winter and travel somewhere warm. 

If you want the cheapest flights to Hawaii, you’ll therefore need to avoid Christmas, Thanksgiving and the summer months of June to August.

The cheapest months to visit Hawaii are January and February. Fall (September-November (excluding Thanksgiving) is also a good time to find affordable airfares to Hawaii. You may also want to consider spring (April-May).

As a general rule, flying on weekends tends to be more expensive because people use their weekends away from work to travel. If you want to get a good deal, consider flying on weekdays. 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are typically the cheapest days of the week to fly to Hawaii. They’re also the cheapest days of the week to fly home.

Use Southwest’s Low Fare Calendar

Southwest Airlines low fare calendar

Southwest Airlines started flying to Hawaii in March 2019 and was even advertising $99 fares. The airline offers some great fares to Hawaii but doesn’t advertise any of its prices on the flight comparison sites, so you’ll need to go directly to the Southwest Airlines website.

Southwest flies to Hawaii from west coast cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Las Vegas and Phoenix. 

The airline flies to a variety of destinations in Hawaii including Hilo, Kona, Kahului, Honolulu and Lihue.

When searching for flights with Southwest Airlines it’s best to click on the ‘Low Fare Calendar’ so you can see the cheapest days of the month to fly. 

Plan a Trip to Los Angeles First

Los Angeles California

If you’re coming from the east coast then you could book two separate tickets with different airlines; one round-trip flight to Los Angeles and then a second round-trip ticket from Los Angeles to Honolulu or wherever you want to go in Hawaii. 

This could work out cheaper than booking a direct or indirect flight with one airline. As an example, you could fly say Jetblue or United to LAX and then fly Southwest Airlines to Hawaii.

Plus, you could spend a few days enjoying Los Angeles so you get to visit two places in one trip.

The flight to Hawaii is very long, so at least this way you’ll be able to break up the journey instead of spending 11-15 hours flying.

Try Using Incognito Mode or a VPN

When you visit an airline website or a flight comparison site they use cookies to track you. If you keep searching for flight prices, they may start to increase the price to create a sense of urgency for you to book.

Before searching for flights you may want to clear your browser cookies or enter incognito mode. The best way to do this is by downloading Google Chrome and then opening a new incognito window. You can do this by  pressing Control if using a PC or Command if using a Mac followed by Shift + the letter N. 

You could also download a VPN and change your location to see if you can get better flight prices when browsing from a different country. I personally use NordVPN and love it but other good VPN services include ExpressVPN and Surfshark.

What Island is Better to Visit in Hawaii?

Coastal road in Oahu

Each Hawaiian island is unique so you’ll need to spend some time researching. Are you a foodie? Do you prefer hiking? Are you a surfer or a beach bum? There’s no “best” island so you’ll need to think about the things you like to do. 

Oahu has lots to see and do and is very popular with first-time visitors. You can relax on the shores of the famous Waikiki Beach, visit the Pearl Harbor historic sites and dine at a wide range of acclaimed restaurants.

Big Island is the largest of the islands and has a little bit of everything. It has some good resorts, lovely beaches and excellent snorkeling. The island is home to Volcanos National Park, where you can hike the volcanic moonscape, catch a glimpse of steam rising from the vents and even see lava flowing. The towns of Kona and Hilo are smaller than Honolulu but they both have plenty of shops, bars and restaurants.

Maui Hawaii

If you prefer a more laid-back vibe then you may prefer Maui, which is home to some beautiful beaches and numerous luxury resorts. Many people visit Maui to drive the famous Road to Hana, which is a 64-mile stretch of road that winds down the east of the island.

Kauai is best for nature lovers. If you’d prefer a more wild and scenic island with secluded beaches and rugged scenery, this is the island to visit. Top things to do in Kauai include hiking the Kalalau Trail and taking a helicopter ride over the Na Pali mountain range.

Will Flights to Hawaii Get Cheaper?

Post-pandemic flight prices really shot up due to rising oil prices and other factors. As travel resumes and airlines start recouping money I anticipate that prices will start coming down a bit. Of course this is all speculation and this could all change if there’s a recession but I anticipate that we’ll start seeing more affordable flight deals to Hawaii. 

A Final Word on Finding Cheap Flights to Hawaii…

I hope you found my guide on how to get the cheapest flights to Hawaii helpful. If you’re flexible and you know what you’re doing, you can fly to Hawaii without breaking the bank. While flights usually account for a large portion of the trip cost, hotels and accommodation are also a large expense. Consider staying in Airbnbs or check out my guide on how to get cheap hotels in order to find the best hotel deals. 

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