What’s the Best Airline to Fly to Hawaii?

Hawaii’s beauty is somewhat unreal. Perhaps that’s why so many travelers inevitably make their way to its shores—to prove the impossible possible. Luckily, for that endeavor, getting a flight to Hawaii to see it all for yourself won’t be all that challenging. All you need is the right airline to get you there. So between the obvious choice and some strong competition, here’s everything you need to know about the best airlines to fly to Hawaii and how you can score the cheapest flights to paradise. 

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What Are the Major Airports in Hawaii?

While the Honolulu Airport on Oahu is the glittering gateway into Hawaii’s tropical wonderland, it’s far from the only entry point. You’ll find international airports on all four major Hawaiian Islands—even two on the Big Island! So whether you want to fly into flashy Oahu or low-key Kauai, you’ll find an airport waiting to give you that classic Aloha welcome. 

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

Several airlines fly to Hawaii, but which are the best? If you’re ready to find your way to the Hawaiian Islands, here are the six best airlines to nab your next ticket to paradise. 

1. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii’s flagship airline is the obvious choice for getting to the Aloha State. But is it actually the best airline to fly to Hawaii? The answer is a resounding yes. Hawaiian Airlines flies to all five major Hawaiian Airports from over 15 major cities, including nonstop flights from east coast highlights like Boston and New York (JFK), making it the most prevalent airline on the market. But numbers aren’t all Hawaiian Airlines has going for it.

Hawaiian Airlines flights deliver a proper Aloha welcome before you even step foot on the islands. Hawaiian music and island-themed uniforms set the scene, making it feel like the tropics have come to you. First class comes with free mai tais and plush lie-flat seats, available on some flights, while economy gets some major love, with free meals on every flight—sometimes even two! 

But if you’re not sold on the island experience that Hawaiian Airlines offers, you might be swayed by their stellar service. Hawaiian Airlines was ranked the most reliable airline of 2022, promising the fewest canceled flights, the lowest percentage of mishandled luggage, the fewest flight diversions, and no tarmac delays or denied boardings.

With such impressive stats, Hawaiian Airlines truly sits in a league of its own. The only foreseeable downside to flying Hawaiian Airlines to get to Hawaii is that the airline no longer provides flight service into Molokai or Lanai. However, as no other airline offers these routes, it’s not a knock against flying Hawaiian as much as it is something travelers might find themselves a bit salty over. The tasty island-flavored snacks might help you get over it, though! 

Pro-tip: Hawaiian Airlines is one of the only airlines to offer inter-island flights between the Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

2. Delta Air Lines

While Hawaiian Airlines inevitably takes the gold for first choice, Delta Air Lines puts up a good fight for the title of best airline to fly to Hawaii and comes in at a very close second. With eighteen daily nonstop flights to Hawaii, it’s another accessible option that better caters to travelers on the east coast thanks to some new additions. As of November 2022, Delta Air Lines flies daily direct flights from Atlanta, Detroit, and New York (JFK).

While the in-flight experience lacks a bit of island flair, passengers still have a pleasant trip to look forward to with Delta Air Lines. Flat-bed seats in the Delta One cabin guarantee a comfortable flight, while complimentary snacks and refreshments take the edge off in economy. And with Delta Studio comes hours of steady entertainment to make the hours between you and paradise seem slightly shorter.

With its reliable service, premium seat options, and rewarding loyalty program, Delta Air Lines is a clear winner for scoring great flights to Hawaii from all over the contiguous US. 

3. Alaska Airlines

Surprisingly, Alaska Airlines is one of the top three airlines to book your flights to Hawaii. While the name may make you think of cold beauty and snowy landscapes, the airline offers its fair share of tickets to paradise, with plenty of Hawaii flights departing from west coast cities:

  • Anchorage, AK 
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Portland, OR
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Seattle, WA

With the west coast focus, Alaska is not the best airline to fly if you live on the east coast, as you’ll definitely have to get a connecting flight rather than a nonstop one. In addition, there are some clear misses regarding the in-flight experience. For example, Alaska Airlines doesn’t have lie-flat seats in first class or free meal service in economy. However, for those who care more about rewards than in-flight perks, Alaska Airlines delivers. The airline has one of the best loyalty programs in the business, with miles accumulated based on the distance flown and miles eligible for use with partner airlines

And for those looking to fly to Hawaii on the safest airline possible, Alaska Airlines was the only US airline to rank in the top ten safest airlines in the world.

4. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is the only low-cost airline to fly to the Hawaiian Islands, making it the best airline to fly to Hawaii if you’re on a budget. It’s also the only airline, aside from Hawaiian Airlines, to provide inter-island flights between the four major islands. Both features quickly catapult Southwest Airlines to top-tier status for flights to Hawaii. After all, it’s hard to argue with cheap flights and convenient routes. But the deal gets even sweeter when considering Southwest’s generous bag policy promising two free bags per flyer.

The glaring drawback to Southwest is its accessibility, with no budget flights to Hawaii from the east coast. That said, Southwest certainly takes care of flyers on the other side of the US, with nonstop flights available from eight west coast cities:

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Sacramento, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Jose, CA

Between avid deal hunters and chronic over-packers, Southwest Airlines will likely be a first choice for many.

5. United Airlines

A solid choice for flights to Hawaii, United Airlines stands out from the competition by offering its passengers some unique perks. The first is more airport locations on the east coast. United Airlines flies out of Chicago, Newark, and Washington DC, along with providing flights to Hawaii out of Denver. With the most nonstop flights offered, United serves more passengers to Hawaii than any other airline. 

And its rewards don’t stop upon arrival to the Hawaiian Islands. In partnership with Hawaiian Airlines, passengers hoping to island-hop around Hawaii can earn MileagePlus award miles on qualifying inter-island flights with Hawaiian.

6. American Airlines

As the world’s largest carrier, American Airlines had to make an appearance among the best airlines to fly to Hawaii. The airline services both west and east coast cities, providing hubs unique from its competition. With American Airlines, passengers can fly from cities like Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dallas, and Oklahoma City, in addition to more cities on the west coast. Its more modern fleet also promises attractive perks, like lie-flat seats in business class. 

Like United, American Airlines also partners with Hawaiian Airlines, so travelers can earn AAdvantage® bonus miles when flying on Hawaiian as they explore the islands.

The Best Airlines to Fly to Hawaii: International Options

Americans aren’t the only ones scrambling to find flights for a taste of that Aloha magic. Hawaii’s enchantment spreads far and wide, and for visitors from outside the States, catching an international flight is almost as easy as catching a domestic one. 

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines offer lie-flat business and first-class seats from several cities in Japan: Narita, Haneda, Chubu, and Kansai.

A little closer to home, Air Canada is the only airline that offers nonstop service from eastern Canada to Hawaii, with flights from Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and several other Canadian cities. 

As for other international travelers, the following airlines provide Hawaii flights from around the world:

  • Qantas from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney
  • Air New Zealand from Auckland
  • Philippine Airlines from Manila
  • Korean Air from Seoul-Incheon
  • Fiji Airways from Nadi

Is It Worth Flying First Class to Hawaii?

Flying first class can be worth it for the right flight, specifically flights to Hawaii longer than four hours. Excellent food and more comfortable seats in the first-class cabin can make those long Hawaii flights from the east coast feel practically paradisiacal.  

However, it shows itself to be more extravagant than it’s worth when traveling on a short flight, less than three hours, to Hawaii. Shorter flights like those from the west coast don’t allow you to appreciate all the benefits of the first-class cabin before you’re already disembarking. In addition, if you’re traveling to Hawaii on a budget, your money will be better spent on more enjoyable perks like better accommodations and fun activities as you explore the wonders of the Hawaiian Islands.

What Is the Best Airline for Inter-Island Flights in Hawaii?

Only two major airlines offer inter-island flights after you arrive in Hawaii: Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Since Southwest’s introduction onto the inter-island scene, island-hoppers can score flights for as low as $39 one-way. While Hawaiian offers more daily flights, Southwest often provides more affordable pricing. The third option available to inter-island travelers is Mokulele Airlines. This small commuter airline offers flights to tinier airports on all six islands, including those located on Molokai and Lanai.

Let Next Vacay Land You the Cheapest Flights to the Aloha State

Flying to paradise doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can be cheaper than a regular mainland flight. With Next Vacay, you can get the cheapest deals delivered to your inbox. 

Forget searching high and low every day for the best prices or getting alerts from countless flight drop price tools. Next Vacay does all the searching for you and keeps your inbox clean with only the best deals delivered to your email. Each flight is hand-vetted, so by the time it arrives, you know it’s the real deal. 

No matter the island, no matter the airline, Next Vacay can get you there for the lowest prices time after time. So say Aloha to paradise with Next Vacay.

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