Kauai got a lift on Oct. 28 when Alaska Airlines launched nonstop
service between Seattle, Wash., and Lihue Airport on Kauai, making
it the only carrier to fly that route.
I joined the inaugural festivities, which began at Sea-Tac
Airport with hula dancers and a spread of tropical snacks and
beverages. As we deplaned six hours later, Kauai Visitors Bureau
representatives greeted us with orchid leis, live Hawaiian music
and plenty of aloha spirit.
Attending travel industry officials shared their feedback with
me after the trip. Brent Mayes, president of All About Hawaii in
Tigard, Ore., said his company is seeing strong interest in the
direct Seattle-Kauai service. “Demand for these flights is coming
not just from Seattle and Portland but eastern Washington, northern
Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alberta,” said Mayes. “The
biggest challenge is finding seats for everyone.”
“Having the ability to fly nonstop will bring additional demand
for Kauai,” said Apple Vacations’ vice president and general
manager Mark Noennig. “The onboard service was positive, which is
helpful on a long flight like this.” Jeannie McGinnis, director of
Washington marketing for Doug Fox Travel and Cruise, praised the
carrier’s comfortable seating, among other things.
“My only concern is that there weren’t enough digEplayers. If
you pre-booked one you were fine, but if you wanted to buy one
onboard, they ran out,” she said.
McGinnis noted that most of her agency’s Hawaii-bound clients
still request Maui, but she feels optimistic about Kauai’s
“I surveyed our agents and Kauai is generally requested by
second-time visitors to the islands, while first-timers want Maui
and Oahu,” she said. “I think the Alaska flights will do well as
long as our agents educate the public on the benefits of staying on
Kauai. The island has so much to offer without the
commercialization and crowds.”
The return trip to Seattle is a red-eye, which Alaska Airlines
national tour accounts manager Brenda Spivey called an
“The schedule gives clients an extra full day on Kauai, since
the flight home doesn’t leave until 9:15 p.m.,” said Spivey.
“That’s all the more time to enjoy the Garden Island.”
New nonstop service between Seattle and Lihue, Kauai, departs at
4:20 p.m. and arrives at 7:45 p.m. Return trips leave Lihue at 9:15
p.m. and land in Seattle at 5:55 a.m. Alaska flies Boeing 737-800
aircraft on the route.