Hawaiian Airlines Launches Basic Economy Fares

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Hawaiian Airlines has just launched basic-economy fares, starting with three of its destinations in California. If you want to pay the lowest possible price for your ticket, you can opt-out of benefits like seat selection, upgrades, and the ability to change or refund your ticket.

Key Terms

On October 21st, flights from Honolulu and Los Angeles, Long Beach or San Jose will have a “Main Cabin Basic” option. For around $30 less than the Main Cabin fare, you can forgo the following:

  • a seat selection
  • early access to the overhead bins
  • a flight change
  • the possibility to upgrade class
  • earning bonus miles with HawaiianMiles.

You will still get your free meal and luggage allowance, which includes a carry-on bag and a personal item.

Hawaiian Airlines Main Class Basic Restrictions

These restrictions are very similar to United, Delta and American Airlines. Although the chart provided by Hawaiian shows that you won't earn bonus miles, a bit of further research seems to indicate that this refers to elite-status bonuses. In short, you should still earn the standard number of redeemable miles for a basic-economy ticket. (see “Conditions for Main Cabin Basic Fares“)

The good news here seems to be the policy for carry-on bags. Like Delta and American, Hawaiian basic-economy fares include a larger bag that can be stored in the overhead bin. United, by comparison only allows a personal item—which should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.

There is no reason to think basic economy will be limited to these routes going forward. This is likely an early rollout of new pricing that will eventually affect the majority of Hawaiian routes. While the option to pay less may sound good, the trend with other airlines has been to eventually charge the same price for basic economy as they used to charge for unrestricted, main-cabin economy. In other words, don't be surprised if six months from now, the cost of basic economy on most routes is exactly what you'll pay today for main cabin.

Our Take

I personally don't care where I sit on a plane, nor do I need to be the first to put my backpack in the overhead compartment. I'd be fine with saving $30 and going with the Main Cabin Basic fare. However, just as some purchase flight insurance, there are those who will want the extra benefits and flexibility. I think the main reason to skip the Main Cabin Basic fare would be seat selection, especially if you're traveling with anyone else and want to sit with them on the flight.

Of course, only time can tell if these fares will actually offer a discount compared with current pricing. If Hawaiian follows the industry trend of using basic economy as a tool for hiding an increase in “regular” economy fares, we'll all be worse off.

Hawaiian Airlines Launches Basic Economy Fares
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Comments

  • This is great news!

    I like having the option to save a few buck if it suits your trip.

  • Unless you are paying for a large group, this doesnt make a big difference in my cost. I would rather have the flexibility.

  • They also charge a fee when transferring points.

  • I’m sure they will follow industry trends on the pricing, just as they have followed industry trends in launching this concept.

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    For 30 bucks I’d prefer an isle seat. Maybe even get to chose a row with an empty middle seat?

  • I usually travel with cabin baggage and not too bothered about seat selection or upgrades so this is a great improvement.

  • I do not welcome the changes.

  • To save just $30 on a five hour flight and be stuck in a middle seat it’s just not worth it to me!

  • The latest in US airline “enhancements”

  • Love or hate, it’s the way domestic carriers (and soon many others) are going.

  • I’m sure this is a good move for Hawaiian, but basic economy is just not for me.

  • OMG basic economy fares are spreading out so fast.
    I don’t know if this is a good thing long term, as ticket prices don’t seem to be that cheaper with basic economy fares, and other fares look even more expensive…

  • Great to see more and more airlines offering this option. Thanks for the information!

  • The race to the bottom continues though we still have the option of buying the “regular” economy ticket

  • I hope they give better deals than they have in the past!!!!

  • This is not a good thing

  • For flights as long as these ones, I would rather pay 30 dollars more and get an aisle or a window seat. There are some people who will find this very useful and if it gives them the opportunity to travel to Hawaii, this is excellent.

  • These conditions actually don’t sound too bad.

  • The length of their flights make seating more of a priority than $30 for us.

  • I think it is good to have options, and would rather pay a few more bucks to choose my seat.

  • Basic tariffs with long-haul flights don’t go well together…

  • Nancy Cooke says:

    It’s already been shown that it’s a fare increase for normal economy. Jetsetter has screen shots of before and after. Also, if you compare routes on other airlines, Hawaiian’s normal economy fare is nearly identical to the competitors economy minus fares. It’s so obvious, I don’t know why people don’t see it.

  • I agree with others! I will spend the extra to get seat assignments. Even if my family was traveling, I would spend it to make sure we got seats. I do not like these fares. They are clearly here and being adopted by more and more airlines. if we like to avoid these fares then you’ll have to really read out what you’re getting.

  • I wonder if this will extend to international flights. It’s all becoming more like the low cost carrier model.

  • Basic economy fares don’t save money in the long run, they aggravate customers and drive people to airlines such as JetBlue and SOuthwest that don’t play these games.

  • This is great news! I love this airline.

  • This new program allows travelers more options!

  • These fees are making it hard to travel with a family or even a group of friend.

  • I’d seen this when checking out some flights from OGG to SJC and wondered what it meant. Great article and nice to have more options!

  • I prefer Hawaiian overall as a better product than United, so if I am flying basic economy on either, I’d choose Hawaiian first. Unfortunately, United has more choices with regards to hubs and direct flights.

  • I will pass … Worse way to start a vacation !!!

  • They all follow suit eventually with economizing. It’s up to us to decide what we value most and what we are willing to pay for such. They know some folks will pay and some won’t.

  • Sometimes basic econo is all you need to get you there

  • I am confused.. what do you mean by “bonus” miles?

    • We’re confused too! The Hawaiian website is not very specific about this at all. As I understand it, Basic Econ fare will still earn redeemable miles, but you won’t get more miles for being an elite. (If anyone knows more about this, please let me know)

  • Basic economy make Southwest flights much better buys since there isn’t seat selection for anyone before Southwest flights whereas now you have to pay more (NOT save money) if you want to select your seat on the main legacy airlines (i.e. American, Delta and United).

  • I guess it’s goid to have options but traveling with a family/ children and wanting to be seated together makes it expensive when it’s $30×5.

  • This concept is part of the game, like it or not. We will try to take advantage to whom this is possible.

  • Nathan Wiles says:

    I definitely want to sit with my family when I fly, this could get expensive.

  • I do not care for these basic offerings, especially to destinations like Hawaii. Perhaps if you live in Hawaii and need to find more economical ways to fly back and forth to the mainland, this might work. The savings isn’t that much, however. For those visiting HI, why start out the trip with more hassles of finding overhead storage space and perhaps not sitting with your travel companion(s). Though this article isn’t about SWA, one of the reasons we’re not planning to use them to HI anytime soon is because of the lack of reserved seats and the risk of not being able to sit together. Low cost isn’t always the best option. And if you’re going to go to HI, then one needs to understand that it can be an expensive destination, from flight to lodging to meals to activities.

  • Ignacio Medina says:

    Although some people would refuse to accept this “enhacement”, those who value the fact of being able to pay only for the ancilliary services actually used is a good thing. Also is following the trend of the competitors. It was high time for Alaska to made this change.

  • HA web site is not clear if seat selection is available at check in or if seat assignment is by gate agent. Has anyone flown Basic Eco who can answer? Thanks!

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