Flight Review: Southwest Airlines 737-800 OGG-KOA. Flying Southwest In Hawaii

A few years ago Southwest Airlines started flying to Hawaii. This is the first time I’ve ever flown or reviewed Southwest on an Hawaiian interisland flight, I can say I’ve been somewhat looking forward to this, but not sure why. When Southwest started flying to Hawaii, they had an issue, Southwest doesn’t fly red-eye flights. Most other airlines, when they fly to Hawaii they depart the Mainland in the late morning or early afternoon. Then a few hours after arriving, they depart back for the Mainland on a red-eye and land the next morning.

This presents an issue for Southwest, they cannot leave the West Coast early enough to get to Hawaii and back in a single day. So what do they do, they don’t want planes just sitting around in Hawaii for 16 hours with nothing to do. Southwest decided to add some interisland routes within Hawaii. Previously Hawaiian Airlines was the only full service airline on those routes, Southwest came in and gives them some competition.

If you’d like to check out the differences between the different airlines flying interisland Hawaii flights, here is a guide to all of your options. ​

Anyway, today we’re flying Southwest between Maui and The Big Island. OGG-KOA is not a long route and should be just about 40 minutes, gate to gate.

In This Trip

OGG Airport

OGG Airport

After walking over from our Mokulele Airlines flight, we had to go through security. We found the Precheck line and walked through.

After security we went upstairs to find our gate. Like much of Hawaii, the Maui airport is a blend of indoor and outdoor space.

OGG Airport Gates

Southwest uses standard gates here. So because these planes also leave Hawaii, you have to pass through agricultural inspections.

There’s also a good amount of construction right now here at OGG. These outdoor hallways connect to induvial gates areas that are indoors and air conditioned.

Southwest Airlines OGG Boarding

OGG Airport Gates Southwest Airlines

A few minutes of sitting at the gate and our ride over to KOA pulled in. The 737-800 in an all economy configuration is a pretty large plane flying interisland. In fact it’s the largest to regularly do so.

It was Halloween an the airport had drawings for kids. Some of them were taped up to the windows.

OGG Airport Southwest Airlines Boarding

Boarding is done in normal Southwest fashion, groups A-C 0-60. We were lucky to get A28-29.

Southwest Airlines 737 Hawaii Interisland Seats

Southwest Airlines Seating

We boarded and found our way to the exit row. We chose the row with only 2 seats for ourselves. It’s nice to not need to sit near someone, however as we soon found out, this plane is very empty. Less than 50 passengers.

These are the exact same as you would have on any other Southwest flight.

In our seats here at the exit row. I don’t think these seats have any extra leg room, but with two people, these are nice as you don’t have a seatmate.

No in-seat entertainment on Southwest. Not a big deal on a short flight, but this plane came from the west coast, 6 hours is a long way without entertainment. Southwest does have a streaming option with a pretty decent selection, so that’s nice.

But the issue is that there’s no power in the seat. So always bring a battery pack to charge your device.

Southwest Airlines Seating Exit Row

Turns out this flight is very empty, we could have sat in the better exit row seats without a seat mate. These seats do have a nice headrest.

The overhead panels are the same as most modern 737s. I don’t much like the air vents, they just don’t put out as much air as the older twist style ones.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Flight Review

Southwest Airlines aircraft

After a very short boarding process they did ask for 5 volunteers to move from rows 1-10 to rows 21+. Even large planes need to have weight and balance checks done.

After the safety briefing we were away on our 35 minute flight up to the big island. I’m honestly missing Mokulele at this point. They were somehow completely professional yet extremely casual at the same time.

Southwest Airlines Departure

Southwest is fine, but it’s not the island experience I want when I’m on vacation in Hawaii. Good looking United 777 sitting at the gate here in OGG.

Southwest Airlines Departure

A few rows behind us there are some really excited kids, it sounds like it’s their first flight. They are absolutely loving takeoff and the views over Maui.

Southwest Airlines Departure Rainbow

This is such a Hawaiian picture. The view is incredible, but nothing will compare to being eye level with the cliffs of Molokai.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii View

No service today on this flight, can’t help but think Hawaiian would get a lightning quick service out on this trip. In fact I know they do, we flew the reverse of this route on an Ohana by Hawaiian flight back in 2014. Operated on an ATR, great flight, sadly they have been discontinued.

Anyway, almost as soon as we stopped climbing, we started to decend into KOA. These are short flights.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii View

Southwest does offer free live TV on these short flights, it’s a stream to your own device service and works perfectly well out here in Hawaii.

The flight attendants made a one and only pass through the cabin to collect trash and do a final check before landing. Unexpectedly were landing to the south today. That’s extremely rare here in KOA.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Arrival

We soon arrived and pulled into our gate here at KOA.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Arrival KOA

Southwest Airlines 737-800 Hawaii

I love the KOA airport. There are no jet bridges at the entire airport. It’s perfect for me and who doesn’t love a great view like this on arrival.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Arrival KOA

I love using a ramp to board a plane. It’s especially fun on a larger plane like a 737. It’s even better on a plane like a 757 or 767.

KOA Airport Arrival

Southwest Airlines 737-800 Hawaii

Once back into the terminal, that’s entirely outdoors, we made our way to the exit.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Arrival KOA

No bags for us to re-claim, we’re carry on only people. Today we walked right out of the exit and to the rental car shuttle area.

Final Thoughts

Riding on Southwest Airlines in Hawaii is weird, not bad, but weird. Southwest Airlines a perfectly functional way to travel interisland in Hawaii. It’s just a little funny I think of Southwest as a way to shuttle me to Florida, not of a way to get around Hawaii.

This flight was perfectly pleasant, but it’s not as well polished as Hawaiian. It also wasn’t nearly as fun or fast(skip security) as Mokulele.

End of the day, Southwest got us to our destination on time. But really, I’m on vacation, I’d rather fly a different airline.

Follow This Trip

1: Hawaii Vacation: Delta 717 Economy Review and Delta 757 Economy Review

2: Delta 757-200 Economy Flight Review

3: Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay Review

4: Hawaii Vacation: HNL-MKK Mokulele Airlines Review

5: Hawaii Vacation: Hawaiian Airlines 717 Economy Review

6: Review: Hotel Molokai

7: Mokulele Airlines Review MKK-OGG

8: Southwest Airlines Hawaii Interisland Review: OGG-HNL

9: Review: Holiday Inn Express Kailua-Kona

10: Hawaiian Airlines Interisland: Boeing 717 First Class Review

11: Delta A330-900neo First Class (Delta One Suites) HNL-SEA Review

12: Flight Review: Delta 767-300 First Class (Delta One) SEA-ATL

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