Big news today out of San Francisco: Virgin America announced they’re (finally) starting service to Hawaii’s two largest airports. Service from SFO to Honolulu starts November 2 and SFO to Kahului takes off on December 3. Rumors of Virgin’s desire to enter this market had been swirling for years. I myself spoke with many optimistic inflight team members as far back as 2011 about the possibility of these routes. As of this morning, seats were available starting at $199 each way, but it wasn’t long before the prices began to climb higher as people started snapping up the seats.
It looks like Virgin’s main competition on these routes will be Hawaiian Airlines, the only other carrier who has an inflight experience that even comes close to matching Virgin’s. But it’s already quite clear Virgin intends to price their seats higher than Hawaii’s hometown hero. And until Hawaiian decides to put a better first class offering on the table, Virgin will definitely stand out among carriers serving this route in terms of quality. It’s also worth noting that Hawaiian doesn’t offer direct SFO-Kahului service, though they do fly there from both San Jose & Oakland and it’s usually not hard to find round-trip flights in the sub-$400 range:
As you can see, right now the lowest economy fare available on Virgin in December is $782 dollars just for the outbound flight during the holiday season. Those are more than twice the rates currently on offer at Hawaiian. Bear in mind, the wildly dynamic nature of airline seat pricing will probably cause these to fluctuate and drop back down to a less jaw-dropping price later on, but this gives you an idea of how quickly people snatched up the seats Virgin made available at the introductory rate. And as of right now, you can’t find these flights on OTAs to comparison shop because they’re so new. It’ll be really interesting to see what they’ll charge if/when they introduce service to Hawaii from Los Angeles, which has far more competition for the same routes (though again, on not nearly as nice hardware).
I won’t lie, I’m one of this airline’s biggest fans and would love nothing more than to be on that first flight to Maui. Heck, a couple years back I even wrote little story that ended with a marriage proposal and a Virgin America flight to Hawaii. (Side note: I’m totally aware of how embarrassing it is that a native Angeleno doesn’t have enough industry friends to make a script into a real video) Today’s news was like a dream come true! But chances are I’ll be putting my fantasy on hold for awhile since we’re not exactly flush with walking-around money right now. So instead I’ll start building up my Elevate miles balance for two tickets to paradise. If you haven’t signed up for the Virgin America Visa yet, now may be a good time. (FYI I don’t get any compensation whatsoever for providing the link)