Hawaii’s on sale with cheap flights from United and Hawaiian Airlines

Winter may not have officially started yet, but it certainly feels like it has. With temps in the double, and even single, digits and snowstorms covering the country, there’s no denying that a tropical vacation sounds pretty darn good right about now. Luckily escaping to the warmth of Hawaii this winter will be surprisingly cheap thanks to two great airfare sales.

Book a ticket through the Hawaiian Airlines sale by December 16 for travel January 5 to March 11 and April 6 to June 10 and you could fly for as little as $288 round trip (plus taxes). Seattle or Portland to Honolulu, and Portland to Maui are the cheapest routes at $288 round trip. Los Angeles and San Francisco to Honolulu are $368 and Seattle to Maui is $318.

Rates are even lower through United’s sale, which ends a day earlier on Dec 15. The travel dates are more limited – just January 12 to March 4 – but there is a wider variety of cities to choose from. For example, Chicago to Maui is $302, LA to Honolulu is $261, San Francisco to Kona is $265, and Denver to Maui is $285.
And if you need a reason to go to Hawaii this winter (other than “it’s warm there!”) Hawaiian Airlines offers a few more. January to April is whale watching season, now is the perfect time for surfers to catch huge waves formed by storms, and in February there are several Chinese New Year celebrations and the Big Island’s Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival. Plus, did I mention, it’s warm there?

If you can’t afford the flight, check out Portland International Airport’s website by January 2 and enter to win a pair of tickets from Portland to Maui. Okay, actually you can choose Maui or Chicago, but let’s be real – you’ll choose Maui.

Hawaiian airlines offers free flights to the mainland

Hawaii seems like a beautiful place to live – great coffee, awesome surf conditions, nearly perfect weather at all times. But, hundreds of miles out in the Pacific, I imagine it starts to feel a bit isolated, especially with the high cost of flights from the islands back to the mainland US. But for those Hawaiian islanders looking to get away to the rest of the US for a while, Hawaiian airlines, has a pretty great deal.

For every inter-island round trip flight you book on Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll get a discount on your flight from Hawaii to other destinations in the US. The discount starts at 10% (for one round trip flight) and goes all the way up to 100% (yep, a free flight!) after you’ve taken 10 round trip flights around the islands.

Inter-island flights began racking up points towards the discounts on August 3 and will continue through December 31, 2009. The discount can be applied towards flights booked for now through June 15, 2010.

The discount applies to flights to select cities in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

Shark shutdown looms in Hawaii

Some native Hawaiians are looking to bring an end to shark tours, despite their popularity among tourists. They cite cultural concerns, according to a report by MSNBC, while surfers and environmentalists are worried that the animals could begin to associate people with lunchtime. Meanwhile, federal regulators are doing what they do best … investigating.

Of course, tourists don’t respond all that well to arguments made from cultural sensitivity. But, the notion that they could wind up fish food is gaining some momentum. George Burgess, who researches sharks at the University of Florida, believes that sharks will go where they are fed daily, which could deplete other forms of marine life in these areas … and leave populations elsewhere unchecked. There is conflicting research from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Federal law generally doesn’t allow shark-feeding off Pacific island territories and Hawaii, but this doesn’t stop the tour operators, which claim to be operating within the law.


Hawaii safer than ever (in the sky)

Air tour accidents are down according to a bizarre measurement. For the current decade, crashes are down from the 1990s. However you stack it up, though, this can only be seen as a positive development. For the past 10 years, there has been an average of 2.5 accidents per year. The decade before, it was 3.6 a year.

Last year was a below-average year (a good thing), with only two accidents. A plane crash on Mauna Loa killed three, and a forced helicopter landing in Hilo in February 2008 led to five minor injuries.

The improvement shows that a solid track record can still get better. Hawaii‘s 2.5 accidents/year is well below the national average 13 (down from 18). Stricter FAA rules, technological advancements and a “better dialogue between tour firms and regulators” are credited with the success.


The most on-time airlines

Tired of waiting on the tarmac? I don’t think anyone likes flight delays, but they’re a way of life, right? Maybe not. Forbes Traveler recently put together a list of the most on-time airlines. Curious what airlines made the list? Here are the top 10 timeliest airlines in the United States:

  1. Hawaiian Airline: On-time 93% of the time
  2. Aloha Airlines: 92.4%
  3. Southwest Airlines: 80.4%
  4. Frontier: 79%
  5. AirTran: 77.2%
  6. Delta: 76.9%
  7. SkyWest: 75.4%
  8. Continental: 74.8%
  9. ExpressJet: 74.2%
  10. Mesa Air Airlines: 73.7%

Interesting, huh? If you want to know what airlines scored the highest in other countries, check out this article.