Southwest Airlines, WestJet Getting Friendly

Southwest Airlines has made a deal to partner up with WestJet, which is the Southwest Airlines of Canada. This has me thinking about a number of things, but chiefly about Hawaii.

I tend to think about Hawaii a lot, anyway, because it’s nice to think about. Sometimes in very long, meetingful meetings at the office, I think about Hawaii with great vigor.

At this moment, I’m thinking about Hawaii because WestJet flies to Hawaii and Southwest does not. So when Southwest announced its plan to sell tickets on WestJet through a code-sharing agreement starting next year, I had to wonder, what about Hawaii?

Southwest used to have a code-sharing agreement with ATA, which flew to Hawaii. But ATA went kaput. One naturally wonders what WestJet can offer, Hawaii-wise.

Maybe not much. Most Americans don’t want to fly to Vancouver to catch a flight to Hawaii. And the U.S. government won’t allow a foreign carrier to fly between two U.S. destinations. (See Virgin America, trials of.)

Southwest could fly that route itself, but not easily. Southwest has an all-737 fleet but it doesn’t have the 737-800 models with the range for a Hawaii flight. (WestJet does.) As the Southwest blog explained, the company’s planes are not equipped and its crews are not trained for flights over large bodies of water. Also worth noting — Southwest doesn’t do red-eye flights, which keep Hawaiian routes moving.

“I don’t know if Hawaii will ever make sense for us,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly recently told the Chicago Tribune.

So maybe another partner? But who? I guess we’ll see.


3 thoughts on “Southwest Airlines, WestJet Getting Friendly

  1. Cranky Flier

    The US government won’t even allow Southwest passengers to connect over Vancouver. Since the itinerary is between two points in the US, it has to be flown solely by a US airline. If there’s a true stopover in Vancouver both ways, maybe that could work, but even then I’m not so sure if it could still be on the same ticket.
    I tend to think Southwest won’t bother with Hawai’i. It’s such a hassle to have the separate subfleet of aircraft that are capable of flying overwater like that. And Hawai’i isn’t exactly a big money maker. Now that ATA is gone, I can’t think of a good way for Southwest to be able to make that work.

  2. James

    Southwest Current Fleet of 737-700 can fly to Hawaii easily. Aloha Airlines did. They even used Southwest 737-700 in the very beginning to get FAA certification. A 737-700 can fly between LA and Maui no problem or Oahu.
    I have no idea why Southwest Airlines don’t fly there especially with Aloha out of the way. Makes no sense on Southwests part.

  3. Jeanne Leblanc

    Granted that the extended range version of the 737-700 can make that trip, and that’s what Aloha was flying. But Southwest doesn’t fly those. They fly the standard 737-700, which doesn’t make the distance between LAX and HNL (4100 km).
    Also, Southwest is not equipped or ceritified to fly over open water – no rafts, etc., on its aircraft. There’s an explainer in the Southwest blog here:


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