Hawaii's Airfare Pricing Games Begin

As the East Coast gets ready for nonstop flights from New York and Washington, D.C. to Hawaii (courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines and United, respectively), other airlines are looking to remain major players in the game, increasing service from the West Coast to the islands. This week, Alaska Airlines announced new nonstop daily service between Oakland and San Jose and Hawaii. The airline operates flights from both cities to Kauai, Maui and Kona on Hawaii Island, with 35 flights a week from the Bay Area and Sacramento to Hawaii.

Allegiant Air, meanwhile, also announced flights from their Las Vegas base and Fresno to Honolulu. Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said that the addition of these flights will help to provide additional direct flight access to the state and is estimated to provide $29.8 million in visitor expenditures and $3.25 million in tax revenue.

Hawaiian Airlines, which won't begin flying to the East Coast until June, responded with a 36-hour flash sale—raising an interesting question: Allegiant's main appeal is in its low costs, but the airline charges for carry-on baggage and is decidedly no-frills, whereas Hawaiian promotes itself as the only domestic airline that still offers complimentary hot meals on flights to and from the mainland across all classes. Since the flight from California to Honolulu is not insignificant (approximately five to six hours), will visitors be willing to save money on their ticket only to make up for it in baggage and food fees onboard? And will the difference in fares be significant enough to convince East Coast travelers to fly from the West Coast rather than paying for a nonstop flight? The pricing games have begun—who will win? Sound off in the comments below.

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