Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States.
Featuring gorgeous beaches, tropical weather, and friendly people, the group of islands has been a tourist destination for decades.
As Hawaii continues to innovate itself as the go-to vacation spot, tickets to get to the group of islands are becoming more and more expensive.
It may have you wondering why that’s the case.
Here are 10 reasons flights to Hawaii are so expensive.
Why Are Flights To Hawaii So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Longer Flights
Hawaii is far from the rest of the country.
If you live in New York, for example, then the group of islands is clear on the other side of the country.
That means you’re going to have an expensive ticket.
The further you are from Hawaii, the more expensive your ticket is going to be.
That’s because airliners have a lot of costs they need to cover for long trips.
Not only does the plane need to undergo maintenance to ensure it can make the long trek, but the staff also needs to be paid.
They’re working extra hours to ensure everyone arrives safely at their destination.
Food costs also add up on a long trip.
There needs to be enough food for all the passengers to eat.
That includes those with special diets.
The crew also needs food to stay energized, healthy, and alert.
Fuel is another factor for longer treks.
The plane is going to need to make a few stops or have a large gas tank to make it to Hawaii.
Essentially, the further you are from Hawaii, the more expensive it is to run the plane.
Tickets from the East Coast, the South, and certain parts of the Midwest are always going to be more expensive than those from the West Coast.
2. Seasonal Traffic
Whenever there’s a holiday season, you can expect tickets to Hawaii to be expensive.
That’s because many people want to vacation in Hawaii.
Those who want to get away from cold temperatures and snow can find relief in the group of islands.
Because they have a tropical climate, it’s warm all year.
Others find Hawaii romantic.
It’s their ideal location for Valentine’s Day, weddings, and honeymoons.
The problem with trying to buy tickets to Hawaii during the holidays is that everyone is trying to do the same thing.
With a limited number of tickets available at any given time, the scarcity drives ticket prices way up.
That’s true the closer you get to the departure date, too.
3. Fuel Costs
In general, it costs a lot to fuel up a jet plane.
Jet fuel is expensive because a plane needs a lot of it.
Whereas your car may only use a few gallons, a plane goes through a gallon of gas every second.
No matter where you’re located in the country, you’re going to need to travel a long distance to reach Hawaii.
The further you are, the more fuel that the jet is going to need to reach the destination.
The average price of gas in the last few years has been around $3.17.
Yet due to the recent global pandemic, it made the fuel costs plunge to $1.43.
That’s because no one was traveling.
Those who did travel likely found cheap tickets as a result.
Since global traffic is starting to resume, gas prices are starting to climb once more.
One way that you can estimate how much the fuel is going to cost a jet is to consider its passengers.
- A single passenger on a Boeing 767 plane costs $209.
- A single passenger on a Boeing 757 plane costs $176.
- A single passenger on a Boeing 737 plane costs $160.
If the plane carries 100 passengers, then you can see how quickly the cost of fuel rises.
Passengers determine how much a jet will need fuel because of its weight.
That’s why you need to weigh yourself and your packages when you board a plane.
The airline needs to run a few calculations to know how much gas they need to purchase to make the journey.
The more weight that a plane has, the more fuel they’re going to go through.
Larger planes that go to Hawaii are going to need a lot of fuel which means ticket prices are going to be expensive.
4. Fuel Costs In Hawaii
Fuel costs in Hawaii are a whole different reason ticket prices are expensive.
Fuel is expensive in Hawaii.
That’s because they have a limited supply.
They have their own local refinery, but it’s responsible for producing gas for those who live on the island.
It isn’t used for airlines.
That fuel comes from gas that they import from countries like Asia, South America, and the Caribbeans.
Since they need to import it, they need to pay any taxes or tariffs that the suppliers add to the overall cost of the gas.
Because they buy their gas, they need to make their money back.
To do so, Hawaii increases the price of the imported gas and sells it to airlines.
In 2021, the price of gas in Hawaii was $3.37.
The most expensive recorded gas was $4.19.
Keep in mind that these figures also come out of a global pandemic.
Few people were traveling around in Hawaii let alone to Hawaii.
The state needed less fuel which means it didn’t need to import as much.
For Hawaii, $3.37 is likely considered cheap.
Some people who live in Hawaii say that they’ve seen gas prices rise to as high as $7.00 before.
The problem is that airlines need to refuel in Hawaii before returning to the mainland.
With high gas prices, the cost to fly the plane increases.
To offset this and make a profit, airlines need to increase ticket prices.
5. Weekend Trips
A lot of people try to visit Hawaii on the weekend.
It makes sense since many vacations start during the weekend.
The problem is that a lot of people try to visit Hawaii on the weekend from the West Coast, too.
Those who live on the West Coast can easily jump over to Hawaii whenever they feel like going.
The problem is that this increases the price of tickets.
With vacationers and weekend visitors, the number of tickets available to the islands becomes scarce.
With fewer tickets to go around, the price of each one increases.
You’ll find that traveling to Hawaii on the weekend is more expensive than traveling during the week.
6. Booking A Charter Jet
One of the ways that you can travel to the Hawaii islands is on a charter jet.
These are smaller planes that usually emphasize privacy and luxury.
The problem with using a charter jet is that you can expect extremely expensive tickets.
They’re geared towards executives and affluent people.
Ticket prices usually range between $60,000 and $100,000.
The perk of using a charter jet is that you’re not surrounded by other people.
Sometimes, you’re the only one on the plane.
You’re also served fine food and drinks.
The pilot aims to make the experience as luxurious and relaxing as possible.
That comes with a steep price tag.
Owners of charter jets need to pay their crew.
They also need to keep their planes in fine condition and looking attractive for clients.
Since they have a limited number of seats, the owners need to make sure to cover the cost of the flight.
Expensive tickets are the result.
For some, paying this extra cost for their ticket may be worth it.
For others, you may want to put up with the dozens of other passengers for a bit longer.
7. Booking Time
The time that you book your ticket also influences the price.
Those who book several months before their departure date will have cheaper tickets than those who book their tickets only a few days ahead of the departure date.
That’s because airlines need to fill their planes.
A flight needs a certain number of passengers in order to make a profit.
To encourage passengers on a flight, the airline will first sell tickets cheap.
These tickets are available months in advance.
Once the number of passengers reaches that profit threshold, airlines will increase the price.
This happens closer to the departure date.
Another reason booking time influences ticket price is availability.
When tickets release initially, there’s a large number of them.
As passengers buy tickets, the number of seats decreases.
With enough demand for that plane ride and little supply, the prices start to increase.
You’ll have a harder time finding a ticket to Hawaii at an affordable price if you choose to buy only a few days ahead of your departure date.
The airport that you fly into and leave from can influence the ticket’s price.
The Inouye airport is in Honolulu and the Kahului Airport is in Maui County.
Both of these airports are large and can process passengers and planes quickly.
They have the capacity, staff, and processes to make entering and leaving the islands fast and easy.
Because they’re large airports, they have everything they need to handle visitors.
They have large fuel tanks which can carry a large amount of gas to fuel up jets.
They have large landing areas which can support several planes.
Since everything is ready to handle large numbers of people, airfare is cheaper.
That isn’t the case with regional airports in Hawaii.
Flying out of or into a regional airport is more expensive.
One of the reasons is that they’re smaller.
It costs more for them to handle large numbers of people.
Since they don’t deal with a lot of traffic regularly, they often have to take on heavy costs to support traffic.
There’s also a shortage of pilots who work with regional airports.
They don’t always offer great pay.
With a shortage of pilots, there are fewer planes taking passengers to regional airports.
With fewer planes available, tickets are scarce and become more expensive.
Using a regional airport can make your ticket to Hawaii more expensive.
9. Non-Stop Flight
There are different types of flights to take to Hawaii.
One is a connecting flight or layover.
This means that the passenger’s airplane is going to stop in a city on the way to its final destination.
The passenger will need to find and catch their next plane which will take them the rest of the way to their destination or another layover.
Layovers can be as short as a few minutes and as long as a few days.
They’re the cheapest way to fly since it takes a long time to reach your destination.
The next type of flight is a direct flight.
In this case, the passenger will have a stop or two along the way to their destination.
The plane usually refuels at these stops and allows some passengers to leave while it takes on other passengers.
If you have a direct flight ticket, then you don’t switch planes.
The original plane that you got on is the one that will take you to your destination.
It’s faster than a layover, but it’s still not the fastest way to reach your destination.
It’s also the second most expensive way to fly.
The most expensive way to fly is with a non-stop ticket.
If you buy a non-stop ticket to Hawaii, then that means your plane never stops.
It carries you from your starting location to your ending destination.
Unless it’s an emergency, the plane won’t stop to refuel either.
This is the most expensive way to fly.
It’s usually geared towards business individuals and executives.
While buying a non-stop ticket to Hawaii will get you there the fastest, it will also be the most expensive way to fly to the group of islands.
The final reason your Hawaii ticket is so expensive is the airline that you choose.
Certain airlines are more expensive than others.
That’s because those airlines offer other features and special services that you can’t find with the cheaper versions.
When you’re flying to Hawaii, the cheapest airlines to use are:
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
The expensive airlines to use are:
- Alaska Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
The prices for each also fluctuate based on where you’re flying out of.
For example, a ticket with Southwest Airlines from Georgia to Hawaii may only be a little more expensive than a ticket from United Airlines from Rhode Island to Hawaii.
The perks of choosing to pay for expensive tickets is that you can sometimes have better food and access to drinks.
The chairs may also be more comfortable and have more space.
Within each airliner, you also have a choice between economy class and business class.
Economy class is the cheapest type of ticket that you can buy.
An economy class ticket on an airline like Alaska Airlines may be about the same price as a business class ticket for something like American Airlines.
Business class offers a bit more luxury during your traveling.
You tend to have more privacy, better food, and a calmer experience.
It’s also the most expensive ticket.
If you want to travel in comfort, then you’re going to need to buy an expensive business class ticket with one of the expensive airliners above.
Otherwise, if you want to go cheap, then take a look at a comparison between different airlines to see who has the best deal.
How To Make Your Hawaii Tickets Cheaper
Hawaii vacations are already expensive.
Here are a few ways you can save money on your Hawaii tickets.
1. Travel West
Before you take a plane to Hawaii, you should try to travel West as much as possible.
Ticket prices decline the farther West that you go.
You may be able to find a great deal that carries you from your state to the West Coast.
From there, you’ll only need to pay around $200 for a ticket to Hawaii.
You may also want to consider taking a train to the West.
There are tons of luxury train lines that are far cheaper than a plane ticket to the West coast.
You can also always drive, but that isn’t suitable for those who live farther east in the US.
The price of gas for your car will exceed the price of a plane ticket.
2. Fly Economy
Although it may be tempting to splurge and fly in comfort, you’ll save a lot of money by choosing to fly in economy class instead.
Economy class will still get you a meal and drink if the distance qualifies.
You’re also only onboard for a few hours.
You’ll be happy you saved money for your actual vacation once you land.
3. Don’t Use A Charter Plane
When you arrive at the West Coast, you’ll have a choice to fly on a standard airliner or to hire a charter plane.
The charter plane may give you some privacy and a chance to relax, but it’s considerably more expensive.
Choose a regular airliner instead.
The price is going to be cheaper than a charter plane.
You could save thousands of dollars.
Tickets for flights to Hawaii are expensive because of Hawaii’s distance from the rest of the country.
Fuel also plays a major factor in how expensive a ticket becomes.
If you want to save money on your ticket to Hawaii, then follow the tips above and book your ticket early.