OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - A special Southwest test flight took off from Oakland International Airport Tuesday, a move that could eventually lower airline prices to one of the world's best vacation destinations: Hawaii.
Just after 11 a.m., a Southwest airliner left Oakland, bound for Hawaii, showcasing for the Federal Aviation Administration that Southwest can do long-haul, over ocean flights just like other larger airlines that serve the Hawaiian Islands.
Currently, Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines dominate Hawaii service out of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose airports. Soon, those airline giants will have a new competitor with Southwest Airlines.
“I'm all for it. I think they are a pleasant airline to use. They have a lot options for purchase, and the flight, your fare, includes 2 bags,” said frequent Southwest passenger Kathy Godwin.
What's important about this is what the industry now calls the “Southwest Effect." That's the increase in airline travel originating from a city after service to and from that city is started by Southwest or another airline that improves service or lowers costs.
“I shop fares in every airport I fly into and, almost universally, if Southwest is flying there, they're the lowest,” said Godwin.
Southwest will travel to and from Hawaii out of Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego for starters. The Hawaiian Islands to be served will be Oahu, the big island of Hawaii and both Maui airports.
The planes Southwest will fly have a range a 1,000 miles beyond the Hawaiian Islands. U.S. News & World Report rates Hawaii as one of the top destinations in the world, as does Business Insider and Travel and Leisure Magazine.
Southwest has proven to be an aggressive competitor and will expand to wherever the business is.
“I have four kids, eight grand kids and it's about time we got some way to get over there without hawking our house,” said Southwest passenger Karin Schubert.
Once Southwest passes all its certifications, it says it will announce specific flights and fare