Chosing a window seat when flying to Hawaii gives the best views

Flying to Hawaii Tips: Everything You Need to Know Before Your Trip

Are you planning a trip to Hawaii?

If so, then read on! We’ve got some great tips for flying to Hawaii that will help make your vacation the best one yet. Whether you’re going with family or friends, we have something for everyone.

We will discuss flying options, what items you need to bring on the flight, what you need to wear on the plane, and so much more.

So sit back and relax as you read our handy tips on how to best prepare for your trip. Before you know it, you’ll be relaxing in paradise!

Here are some tips that we’ve learned from our own experience with flying to Hawaii, as well as other places around the world. We hope they help you enjoy your trip!

How Long is the Flight to Hawaii?

The flight time will depend on what city you are flying from to get to Hawaii. 

For example, flying from New York to Honolulu will take you 11 hours non-stop, but flying from Los Angeles to Honolulu will take you about 6 hours.

One thing to also keep in mind is if you are flying direct or have a connecting flight. The more connecting flights you have, the longer it will take for you to get to Hawaii.

Also, this will depend on which Hawaiian airport you are flying into to get there.

If you prefer direct flights, you are in luck as all four of the below Hawaiian airports offer flights to and from the mainland United States.

Hawaii’s International Airports:

Oahu: Honolulu (HNL)

Maui: Kahului (OGG)

Kauai: Lihue (LIH)

The Big Island: (Kona (KOA) and Hilo (ITO)

Enjoying some Volcano views on the Big Island of Hawaii

Which Airline Is The Best to Fly With?

People have asked me this question countless times, and my answer is always the same; it will depend on where you are flying from, which island you are going to, and your personal preferences.

I have seen many people recommend Hawaiian Airlines as the preferred airline when flying to Hawaii, and I don’t necessarily agree with this statement.

I have personally flown with them numerous times and love the airline, but since I am based on the east coast of the united states, Hawaiian isn’t always the best choice for me.

If I want to fly nonstop from Atlanta, I find more flight options with Delta because Delta has a hub in Atlanta and offers more options in Atlanta than Hawaiian Airlines.

On the contrary, if I were flying from Denver, United Airlines would be my first choice since they offer more options than Delta. Anyway, I hope you get the point here.

So when you are searching for flights to Hawaii, make sure that you research the different airline carriers that offer service within your area, and then choose one that is more suited for where you are departing from and one that offers the best deals.

Here is a tip when flying to Hawaii. We always chose the window seat when flying to Hawaii. It gives the best views

Which Airlines Offer Interisland Flights in Hawaii?

Hawaiian and Southwest offer the majority of the interisland flights in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines

Without a doubt, Hawaiian Airlines is the leading airline when it comes to interisland flights. If you are taking a trip around the islands, the chances are that you will be flying with Hawaiian Airlines.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest also offers some interisland flights on the Big Island, Kauai or Maui. I have only flown Hawaiian because they just had so many options to choose from, and since I have never had any issues with them I always pick them as my preferred interisland airline.

Also, interisland flights within Hawaii are affordable, so if you are a budget traveler, this is one less thing you have to worry about in terms of expenses. I know a trip to Hawaii is expensive and I am here to help you save some money so you can afford to travel more.

Other Airlines

There are also smaller airlines that offer unique destinations such as: Mokulele Airlines (offering flights to Hana and Lanai), Lanai Air (offering flights from Honolulu to Lanai), and Makani Kai Air (offers small charter flights from Kauai, Molokai)

Note: One thing I will say about interisland flights is to make sure you read the fine print very carefully. Confirm if the ticket you are purchasing offers a free check-in bag.

We often purchase basic economy tickets when flying, and we end up paying to check in a bag. Overall, the total cost has always been less than $70 for us. This is when flying from Oahu to Maui and the Big Island in 2021.

Obviously, prices will depend on the time of the year you are traveling to Hawaii, so be sure to check with the airlines directly.

Which Airlines Fly Non-Stop to Hawaii?

Multiple airlines fly non-stop to Hawaii. The below tables show a breakdown of which airlines fly into Hawaii and what airports they depart from.

Flying to Honolulu (HNL)

Atlanta (ATL)Delta10 hours
Charlotee (CLT)Hawaiian10 hours
Chicago (ORD)American and United9 hours, 10 minutes
Dallas (DFW)American8 hours, 33 minutes
Denver (DEN)United7 hours, 14 minutes
Houston (IAH)United8 hours, 31 minutes
Las Vegas (LAS)Hawaiian6 hours, 30 minutes
Long Beach (LGB)Hawaiian and Southwest6 hours
Los Angeles (LAX)American, Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian, Sun Country and United6 hours
New York (EWR)United11 hours
Oakland (OAK)Alaska, Hawaiian and Southwest5 hours, 45 minutes
Orlando (MCO)Hawaiian10 hours, 30 minutes
Phoenix (PHX)American and Hawaiian6 hours, 45 minutes
Portland (PDX)Alaska and Hawaiian6 hours, 15 minutes
Hawaiian and SouthwestSacramento (SMF)5 hours, 50 minutes
Salt Lake City (SLC)Delta7 hours
San Diego (SAN)Alaska, Hawaiian and Southwest6 hours, 25 minutes
San Jose (SJC)Alaska, Hawaiian and Southwest6 hours, 25 minutes
San Francisco (SFO)Alaska, Hawaiian, Sun Country and United5 hours, 25 minutes
Santa Ana (SNA)United (starting May 6)6 hours
Seattle (SEA)Alaska, Delta and Hawaiian6 hours, 30 minutes
Washington (IAD)United10 hours, 43 minutes

Flying to Maui (OGG)

Chicago (ORD)United9 hours
Dallas (DFW)American8 hours, 20 minutes
Denver (DEN)United7 hours, 20 minutes
Las Vegas (LAS)Hawaiian6 hours, 15 minutes
Hawaiian and SouthwestLong Beach (LGB)5 hours, 45 minutes
American, Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian and UnitedLos Angeles (LAX)6 hours
UnitedNew York (EWR)11 hours, 10 minutes
Alaska, Hawaiian and SouthwestOakland (OAK)5 hours, 35 minutes
AmericanPhoenix (PHX)6 hours, 53 minutes
Alaska and HawaiianPortland (PDX)6 hours, 10 minutes
Hawaiian and SouthwestSacramento (SMF)5 hours, 35 minutes
DeltaSalt Lake City (SLC)6 hours, 49 minutes
Alaska and HawaiianSan Diego (SAN)6 hours, 15 minutes
Alaska, Hawaiian and UnitedSan Francisco (SFO)5 hours, 25 minutes
Alaska, Hawaiian and SouthwestSan Jose (SJC)5 hours, 35 minutes
Alaska, Delta and HawaiianSeattle (SEA)6 hours, 25 minutes

Flying to Kauai

Denver (DEN)United7 hours, 51 minutes
Los Angeles (LAX)American, Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian and United6 hours, 10 minutes
Oakland (OAK)Alaska, Hawaiian and Southwest5 hours, 35 minutes
Phoenix (PHX)American6 hours, 49 minutes
Portland (PDX)Alaska6 hours, 25 minutes
San Diego (SAN)United, Hawaiian8 hours, 25 minutes
San Francisco (SFO)United5 hours, 52 minutes
San Jose (SJC)Alaska and Southwest5 hours, 50 minutes
Seattle (SEA)Alaska and Delta6 hours, 20 minutes

Flying to Kona

Chicago (ORD)United9 hours, 20 minutes
Dallas (DFW)American8 hours, 35 minutes
Denver (DENUnited7 hours, 22 minutes
Los Angeles (LAX)American, Alaska, Delta , Hawaiian and United6 hours
Phoenix (PHX)American6 hours, 30 minutes
Portland (PDX)Alaska6 hours, 20 minutes
San Diego (SAN)Alaska6 hours, 10 minutes
San Jose (SJC)Alaska and Southwest5 hours, 45 minutes
San Francisco (SFO)United5 hours, 23 minutes
Seattle (SEA)Alaska and Delta6 hours, 20 minutes

Flying to Hilo

Unfortunately, there are limited non-stop flights that fly into Hilo. United offers a non-stop flight from LAX to Hilo (ITO). Another option would be to fly into Kona and then drive over to the Hilo side (about a 2-hour drive).

If you are considering going to the Big Island and want to know the difference between Hilo and Kona, check out the below article about Hilo Vs. Kona.

Delta airlines is one of the airlines that fly's non stop to most Hawaiian islands. The best tip when flying to Hawaii it to chose an airline that's based in your city or one that offers more flights from your city.

How Do I Book the Best Flights?

Here are some tips on how you can get the best flight to Hawaii:

Always book directly with the airline

Make sure to book your ticket directly with the airline to eliminate the middle man. Doing this will eliminate any hassles when there is a change in flights or problems with your tickets.

It is much easier to deal directly with the airline than with a third-party travel agency.

Be flexible with your travel dates

If you are flexible with the time of year you want to travel, you will have a better chance of finding the best ticket prices.

This is because airlines offer sales or discounts to fill up seats during off-season or peak times, so being flexible with your date range will increase your chances of getting the best deal.

Use Seat Expert or Seat Guru

If you want to ensure you have a great seat when flying, be sure to check out Seat Expert and Seat Guru.

These sites will allow you to search for the exact seat you would like, and then they will tell you if that seat is available or taken.

One of the best features of these sites is it will allow you to search for a seat with extra legroom and tell you if another customer has selected that specific row.

This way, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a middle seat when flying! Make sure to check it out before your next flight!

Decide if flying direct or connecting is the best option for you

If you book direct flights to Hawaii, you won’t have to worry about connections or layovers. This will ensure that you get to your destination much faster.

If you are on a tight schedule, then direct flights might be the best option. However, if you are not in a hurry and want the best ticket price, I recommend searching for connecting flights (preferably no more than one connection).

You will often find amazing deals on these connection flights. Just do your research ahead of time.

One thing to note about connecting flights is that If you take a connecting flight, you run the risk of getting stuck with a delayed or canceled flight, which can be very inconvenient if you have a connecting flight with another airline. This is something that will always be a risk when flying with multiple connections. So keep in mind if considering this option!

I have flown both non-stop and have had multiple connecting flights to Hawaii, and to be honest, I have not had any problems with either option.

These days, I usually have a layover in LAX for a few days or a few hours to see some friends before heading over to Hawaii.

I only do this because I am not on a tight schedule and have some flexibility with my time.

The Big Island of Hawaii has some of the best sunsets. You might be able to catch this view while flying in and out of Hawaii if you are lucky.

Dealing with Jetlag

Depending on where you are flying from, Hawaii might be anywhere from 4-8 hours+ different than your current time zone within the US. So you might start the day with a negative sleep cycle which will not be fun for anyone!

There are a few things you can do to help with jetlag. My two personal favorites are listed below.

Stay on your local time while in Hawaii

I have done this numerous times, and it has worked well for me. I still have my 9-5 job and work Eastern Standard Time (EST) while in Hawaii. That means I wake up around 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM Hawaii time to start working, which is around 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM EST. 

Note: Hawaii does not have daylight savings time, so the time will stay the same all year round

I understand that not many people can wake up that early, but if you are already up by 4:00 AM Hawaii time, why not get started with your day?

If you are already up, go out and watch the sunrise and take in some of that beautiful Hawaiian sun. If you are in Kona, be sure to check out some of the best sunrises on the Big Island.

This process also works well when going to popular attractions. There are generally fewer crowds the earlier you get to them. One of my favorite and best beaches to go to in Oahu is Lanikai Beach, and as many of you know, this beach can get very crowded.

Luckily for me, I always go there after sunrise and it’s not crowded at all.

Adjust your body clock

Another thing you can do is adjust your body clock before you leave. Before your trip, you can change when you go to bed and when you wake up to better align with Hawaii’s daytime hours.

For example, if you are coming from California, you can get on the Hawaiian time zone about five days before your trip. To do this, you’ll want to go to sleep around 3 hours later than your usual time and wake up about 3 hours late as well.

When should I Upgrade or Splurge on a Flight?

Flying Direct

If you are traveling to Hawaii for your honeymoon, anniversary, or simply because it’s your dream destination, why not splurge a little and upgrade if you can afford it?

As mentioned before, you will need to decide if flying direct or connecting is the best option for you. This might be a good area for you to splurge if your time is limited and you want to get to Hawaii in less time.

Seat Upgrades

Seat upgrades are also another thing that I recommend if this is important to you. Flights to Hawaii are generally long from the mainland, and if you prefer to be as comfortable as possible, I suggest considering a seat upgrade.

My husband sometimes pays for Comfort Plus to be able to spread out and relax. With him being 6′ 3″, economy seats can sometimes get uncomfortable for him on longer flights.

This might not seem like a big deal, but it makes a difference when flying for a long time.

Seat upgrades can be purchased during the booking process or when checking into your flights!

Nice Aircraft

Sometimes the cheap airline might not always be the best. I know you want to save money, but what is better than saving your precious time and getting to Hawaii stress-free?

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay more with a reliable airline that offers many flight options and newer planes. It might cost a little more upfront, but it is worth it to make sure you are comfortable.

Flying to Hawaii: Tips and Tricks

Check in online within 24 hours of your departure

This is a great way to save time and stress when going through the airport. Generally, it’s easier to check in online than doing it at the airport during busy times.

You don’t want to be rushing and panicking when trying to check in at the last minute.

Make sure to hydrate

I cannot stress this importance enough. It’s so important to stay hydrated, especially when traveling! Also, as you may know, you should drink more water than usual when traveling as your body can get dehydrated from the different climates.

So keep those water bottles full and always bring an empty water bottle with you. We always bring two empty water bottles and refill them at the airport.

You probably know that most airlines don’t offer enough water unless you are flying first class. Sure they will give you a cup of water, but most of us need more than that. You can always ask for more, but I would rather bring my own than ask for one often.

Don’t overpack

This is another mistake I see many travelers make. Make sure your check-in luggage isn’t over the limit provided by your airline. I will be the first to admit that I have made this mistake multiple times, and yes, I was that person at the airport pulling things out of my suitcase to stay within the weight limit.

Always pack light and avoid bringing too much stuff with you. If you need recommendations on what to pack for your Hawaii trip you can check out my other article about a Maui vacation packing list.

Charge devices before you leave

This might seem like common sense, but some people forget or don’t think of it. This tip will help keep your stress level down as you know that your phone, tablet, etc., are charged and ready!

Don’t forget to pack chargers for all of your devices!

Bring those old-style headphones

You’ll want to be able to use your wireless headphones on the plane. Make sure you pack your old-style headphones! They may not be the most fashionable things, but they work and that is what matters.

Download all your favorite things

Make sure you download all of the entertainment you want to watch on the plane before boarding.
Yes, some newer planes offer TVs; however, there is no guarantee that your favorite shows or movies will be available.

Bring your favorite books

Bring something you can enjoy on the plane ride over, whether it be a book, tablet, kindle, etc. This will help make the time go by faster.

Try to relax the night before your flight

I know it’s hard to relax the night before your flight, but try to do something relaxing. For instance, take a nice bath and go to sleep early (unless you’re planning on adjusting ahead for the time difference). This way you will be more ready for the morning!

Also, make sure everything is done and organized. You don’t want to have anything left over the day of your departure because it will just stress you out.

Enjoying the day at south point on the Big Island of Hawaii. One of the best tips when flying to Hawaii is to make sure you are relaxed. Do this before flying out of Hawaii too
South Point, Big Island

Bring snacks and food

It can be easy to get hungry, and we all know airline snacks are just too expensive for no reason. So pack some healthy snacks like nuts or granola bars with you to help make sure you don’t get hungry.

I also always make sure I have a full meal before boarding my flight. I always leave enough time to eat at the airport, but sometimes take my food on the plane.

Yes, some airlines offer meals and snacks on flights, but it’s not always guaranteed to be something you like. I am very picky with my food, so I always make sure I do what I need to not go hungry.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes

Flights to Hawaii can be pretty long, and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable.
So make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes as those long flights can take a toll on your feet.

I also always bring my fuzzy socks with me as I find them very comfortable, and they keep my feet warm, which is always a plus!

Bring a warm jacket or a blanket

Some flights can be quite chilly, and you don’t want to be freezing on a long flight.
So make sure you pack a light jacket or a blanket with you! You will want it on those long flights, especially if you are the type to get cold easily.

I never get on a plane without a warm jacket, and I have used it about 99.9% of the time.

Bring a travel pillow

Another important thing you want to do is bring a travel pillow with you.
Flying can take a toll on your neck and back, so you want to make sure you are comfortable at all times.

I always make sure I bring my travel pillow because it’s nice to adjust them however I need. It keeps my head nice and supported, which helps me sleep much better.

Don’t be shy to walk around/go to the bathroom

Sitting around for too long is not good for our health. Make sure not to sit around the entire time of the flight. Walk around, go to the bathroom, whatever you need to do to keep your body active!

Frequently asked questions about flying to Hawaii

Below we will answer some additional FAQs:

What is the cheapest/best time to go to Hawaii in 2021 and 2022?

Generally speaking, the cheapest time to go to Hawaii is the off-season which runs from September to November and March to May. However, you might be able to score some cheap flights during peak season as well by doing some travel hacking.

How long is the flight to Hawaii from California?

The flight to Hawaii from California is about 5 hours.

We enjoyed a chill day at the beach on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Wrap Up

The best way to enjoy your flight is by making sure you’re prepared, well-rested and relaxed before the trip. Remember to pack light and wear comfortable clothes on the plane. You should also bring food or snacks because airlines don’t always provide enough.

If you follow these simple tips, you should get through your flight without any stress and enjoy the incredible views you will see along the way!

So fly safe, have a good time, and remember to explore while you’re there!!

Until next time, Aloha!


Before you go, be sure to check out the below articles related to Hawaii travels.

Big Island vs Maui: Which one to choose?

Oahu vs Maui: Which Island is the Best to Visit?

Which Hawaiian Island Is The Most Affordable to Visit?

Hawaii in September

Which Hawaiian Island is the Best to Visit