Is a trip to Hawaii on your bucket list? Hawaii is often a trip of a lifetime but like all good things, it can be very expensive. Your plane ticket can be a significant part of the total cost of your Hawaiian vacation and knowing how to find the best flights to Hawaii helps you to stay in budget. Here are 5 tips for finding the cheapest flights to Hawaii.
Tip #1 Be Flexible with Your Dates
The more flexibility you have in your schedule, the easier it is to find cheap flights! Don’t schedule your vacation around a holiday. Avoid flying around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. That’s when demand is high and the airlines don’t discount. If you must go over a holiday, experts recommend flying on the holiday itself to get the cheapest fare.
Schedule your vacation to Hawaii for the off-peak travel season. Fares are typically lower between October and February. The cheapest flights to Hawaii are in January and February, that quiet shoulder season between the winter holidays and spring break for most schoolchildren (and college kids). Hawaii is still warm during those months which they are coldest on the mainland.
Schedule your flights to arrive and depart midweek. Weekend travel to and from Hawaii is in highest demand and therefore more expensive. If you can travel weekday to weekday (and stay over a Saturday night), you tend to get lower fares and the flight may not be as full. Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the busiest days. Not only are airports packed and delays likely, the airlines take advantage of the high volume by putting high price tags on tickets for these days.
Tip #2 Be Flexible with Airports
Oahu (Honolulu) and Maui (Kahului) tend to be the two most budget-friendly airports to fly into from the continental United States, but this may not be the case for your particular route. Always compare airports and consider tailoring your vacation itinerary if a different arrival airport offers better savings. Then, hop around! Intra-island flights on Hawaiian Air, Island Air, and Mokulele Airlines are affordable, quick, and convenient.
(Check accessibility when booking inter-island flights. Island hopper planes are smaller aircraft and are not capable of accommodating aisle chairs or wheelchairs of any sort. The only access is via small stairs. This is not true of all inter-island flights. Just a word to the wise.)
Tip #3 Book your hotel and flight together
Hotels in Hawaii have seen a decline in occupancy and there are frequently low-priced packages that bundle airfare and accommodations. This can significantly bring down the overall cost of your vacation. Websites such as Expedia and Priceline and the Hawaiian agency Panda Travel also are excellent resources for comparing Hawaiian vacation packages.
Tip #4 Watch for a Fare Sale
Yes, flights to Hawaii do go on sale! Most airlines announce their sales on Tuesdays or Thursdays, but they may change it up and announce a 24-hour sale or a deal on one specific route for a limited period of time. Use cost-comparison websites such as Bing, Kayak like Expedia or Travelocity. These websites make it easy to change your search in order to play with the dates of your vacation to see when it will be most affordable to fly to Hawaii.
Once you find the best price, I recommend going and booking directly through the airline. If anything happens while you’re traveling you have much more leverage when dealing with them directly instead of having to go through a third party
Tip # 5 Monitor Flight Prices
The only way to know you got the best airfare deal is to monitor price trends. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you have to sit at your computer and hit “refresh” every minute, waiting for a flight’s price to drop! Sign up for email alerts 5-6 months before your trip.
I like to use Airfare Watchdog and the Hopper mobile app to monitor flight prices. Both have some nice features for price tracking and monitoring. Set up a fare alert from your departure airport to your favorite Hawaiian island. Then we’ll watch that flight for you, notify you when prices change, recommend the best day to book your flight, and suggest alternate airports, if it looks like there’s a better deal out there.
When you come across a deal, snag it. Purchase as quickly as possible as it could be gone the next day or even the next hour. Be ready to book airfare around 4 months out. This is the prime booking window so once you’ve monitored the trends for a couple of months, be ready to book fast! Once you pass this window, prices will usually only rise.
Follow these 5 tips for finding the cheapest flights to Hawaii and your trip of a lifetime just got more affordable!