Southwest Comes to Hawaii!

Southwest Comes to Hawaii
Aloha, Southwest!

I’ve been hearing about Southwest Airlines’ plan to provide flights to Hawaii for over a year now.  They officially began marketing flights today!

Held up by the FAA approval process and, more recently, the government shutdown, Southwest has shown incredible resolve.  With the December approval of their Extended Operations manuals, there were just two major tasks left to do- simulations to test the carrier’s procedures for dealing with emergencies, and validation flights between the mainland and Hawaii with FAA inspectors on board.  This week, to the delight of many travelers, the airline announced that it finally received federal approval to begin making flights to Hawaii. Yeaah!!!

Starting with Cali cities; Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, and Oakland,  flights have been announced today!  How many flights per day, and to which islands will they be flying to?  I’m sure that information will be announced, shortly, as well.
“We have teams now finalizing our plans to offer service to Hawaii, and we’ll publicly announce our timing for inaugural flights and other services when we publish our schedule in the coming days.” Southwest officials stated earlier this week.

Less expensive flights to and from the “mainland”, is cool but what most excites ME is that the airline plans to provide inter-island flight service in the near future.  Finally, Hawaiian Airlines will have some healthy competition!  This should result in lower fares, making it easier for people to visit family and friends, on neighboring islands.  Not to mention visitors will be able to explore more of the unique beauty and culture each of the Hawaiian Islands has to offer, without being too cost prohibitive, during their visit.

So…  When are you coming to Hawaii?

Online flight booking

Are Airlines Jacking the Price on You?

With the advent of the world wide web, people can easily shop around for the best prices on items or services. Whether its shoes, a book, or airline tickets, it’s not uncommon for a consumer to look out for different sites in search of the best deals.   Have you ever noticed, when looking at airline tickets, the prices go up day-to-day, and in many cases moment-to-moment? I was curious about it so I dug around a bit. I found out about “Dynamic Pricing”.

“Dynamic Pricing”, also known as “Yield Management”, is a set of pricing strategies aimed at increasing profits. It’s not new, but add the technology and capabilities of the internet, and you have a powerful tool for, potentially, identifying customers that will pay a bit more.

Through the use of “Cookies”, websites have access to a great deal of data about their visitors. With that information, the site could automatically adjust the fair based on the collected data. The travel sites’ position is that the change in rates is based on inventory and not cookie data.  This is what I always thought, and it may be 100% true.  I’m skeptical of that 100%. Lol!  William McGee, an aviation adviser for Consumer Reports, conducted a study, in 2016, of 372 searches on nine airline ticketing websites.  What McGee and his team found was:

“Among the 372 searches, we found 42 pairs of different prices on separate browsers for the same sites retrieved at the same time (in theory there should have been no differences). In fact, all nine sites provided different airfares on separate browsers at the same time at least once, although it occurred most frequently on Google Flights (12) and Kayak (8). Out of the 42 pairs that differed, 25 resulted in higher fares (by as much as $121) and 17 resulted in lower fares (up to $84 less) for the scrubbed browser [meaning cookies/browser history removed].”

The technology is there, the incentive is obvious (mo $$$), and the discrepancies are fact, however, there is no admission from the airlines that they strategically employ “Dynamic Pricing” practices as a way of taking advantage of consumers based on their data.

What can you do?
I know it’s a little more work, but you can search for your flight in two browser windows- one that has no “cookie” data, and one that does. And go with the best results that serve your needs.

Browsers now have a “private” feature. Chrome has a way to browse the internet undetected through their “Incognito” feature. For your convenience, I’ve illustrated below how to do this in Chrome.

Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, offers a much more detailed look at “Dynamic Pricing”, in their blog.  READ IT HERE.  

Click here

Going Incognito in Chrome. D The Driver Blog
The Dropdown menu to open an “Incognito” window in Chrome.

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Hawaii hotel MLB

Mauna Lani Closes On Oct 1st!

A buzz topic amongst tourism industry personnel has been the forthcoming closing of The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows. In less than a month, October 1st, 2018 the hotel will close its doors.

MLB Mauna Lani entrance
Atrium at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

Officially purchased last August by DiamondHead Land (a partnership between California based ProspectHill Group and Patrick Fitzgerald). The new owners have carefully assessed the property and have announced the plans for a 100 million dollar make-over. The renovations are expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete. “We are honored to carry on the legacy of the Mauna Lani – hailed as an unparalleled destination and frequently cited as a model of thoughtful stewardship – and bring it into a vibrant new era,”, said Mr. Fitzgerald in a statement. “We are confident we can build on the Mauna Lani’s reputation as a world-class resort to offer even greater value to our cherished guests.”  Mauna Lani is also steward of the ancient Hawai’ian  Kalahuipua‘a royal fish ponds.

Mauna Lani Bay Back Lawn
Mauna Lani Bay

Although the 400 workers of the hotel will have to find another source of income, while the renovations take place, the new owners have vowed to assist them with finding employment and to bring them all back when the hotel reopens. I truly hope so. For a great deal of those workers, Mana Lani has been their second home for 20-30 years. guests who’ve been coming for years have developed relationships with many of the staff members.

Foot bridge over water at MLB

Ocean front pool MLB
Pool Time at Mauna Lani

With great change, trepidation and anxiety is expected.  Let’s hope that the changes turn out to be good for all involved; the workers, the guests, the new owners, as well as the continuation of the ecological stewardship and historical preservation that Mauna Lani has been known for.



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Is The Coast Clear?!

920x920
Is the coast clear?  For Kona, yes. For Hilo, not so much. Yes, Hurricane Lane, has been down graded to a cat 1 tropical storm, but the damage has been done.  Hawaii Islands’ East side experienced record breaking rainfall!

 

Hilo Bay map

The Waiakea Uka area of Hilo experienced a whopping 45.80 inches! Hilo International Airport (ITO) was soaked with 31.85 inches of rain.

The last 3 days have gone on record as the most rain Hilo has ever experienced in a three-day period. Wailuku river, overrun with rain, flooded Hilo’s Bayfront. The National Weather Service called the flooding “catastrophic.”.  Although Hurricane Lane has dumped the most rain that Hilo has ever seen, at 45.8 inches, the record for the most rainfall in the state, goes to Hurricane Hiki — drenching Kauai back in 1950 with 52 inches!

1808241906-Hilo-Bayfront-Under-Water-After-Hurricane-Lane-Hits

More than 100 residence were forced to evacuate. 6 shelters, island wide, have been opened to assist those in need. To find out how you can support, contact the Hawaii State Chapter of the Red Cross (808) 734-2101.