Many Southwest Airlines Travelers Left With No Return Flights Home
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
Many travelers from Baltimore, Chicago, and St. Louis trying to purchase roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for Southwest Airlines ran into a frustrating problem this week. They were able to purchase flights to Hawaii, but couldn’t find any tickets for the return flight home. Angry customers flocked to Southwest Airlines’ Facebook and Twitter pages to demand answers.
The issue wasn’t a glitch or due to sold out flights, but was due to Southwest’s scheduling options. According to USA Today, the airline’s limited flight schedule doesn’t get passengers into California in time to catch Southwest flights to most cities east of Cali.
For example, flights from Honolulu to Oakland arrive in Oakland at 5:50 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time. The last flight from Oakland to Chicago is 4:50 p.m., not giving passengers an adequate connecting flight option.
“When developing these schedules, our primary focus was to offer the best possible timings for local customers (in Hawaii and California),” said a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines in response to traveler concerns on their community message board. “As we continue to add service to Hawaii and increase some of our technical capabilities, we will only see more cities gain connections to the state.’’
At the moment, the only way for travelers outside of the West coast to travel to and from Hawaii is to buy a series of separate one-way tickets. You would have to buy a one-way ticket to Hawaii, a return ticket from Hawaii to California, and then California back home.
Southwest’s new Hawaii flights will begin for travel starting March 17 and flights are selling out quickly. With introductory fares purchased for as low as $49 each day, it may be worth the slight hassle until Southwest can offer a more convenient flight schedule to and from Hawaii.