Hawaiian Airlines passengers now face an extra decision when booking their flights: Is it worth paying a little extra for a seat assignment, earlier boarding or flight flexibility? The carrier’s long-promised basic economy fares went live this week, forcing that choice.
The new fares launched on three routes travel starting on 21 October. Flights between the carrier’s home base at Honolulu and mainland gateways Los Angeles (LAX), Long Beach (LGB) and San Jose (SJC) now offer the fare option.
We are now offering a full range of fare options to our guests on these routes with the addition of the best-value Main Cabin Basic product in the industry – one that combines our lowest fares with our award-winning Hawaiian hospitality, including complimentary meals and in-flight entertainment, delivered in the comfort of our modern fleet.– Brent Overbeek, SVP Revenue Management and Network Planning
First announced in December 2018, Hawaiian’s basic economy program was expected to be live in the second quarter of 2019. The carrier missed that target owing to technology challenges on the implementation side. During the Q2 earnings call in July executives promised to have the product on sale soon and passengers flying with it by the end of the year. With today’s move that goal was realized.
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A $30 fare increase
Initially launched by Delta Air Lines as (theoretically) a competitive response to the Ultra Low Cost Carrier segment, basic economy products are now flying at every US-based carrier except Southwest and JetBlue. The Blue version is coming soon (5 November is one rumored launch date) as the company brings its revised fare families online. And, across the board, the net result for passengers has been paying more for the same services previously on offer. And Hawaiian’s approach is no different.
Looking at fares filed for HNL-LAX it is relatively trivial to see the $30 increase for “M”ain cabin fares as the “B”asic fares take effect on the 21st (second to last letter in the fare filing indicates Basic or Main; otherwise the fare rules are the same).
Of course, that won’t stop the company from touting the new fares as increasing options for customers rather than admitting it is raising fares. But a fare increase is most definitely what it is.