Hawaiian doubles up on Japanese partners, but it isn’t about Japan

Hawaiian Airlnes' A330 (N375HA) inbound
Hawaiian Airlnes' A330 (N375HA) inbound

Hawaiian Airlines will soon have not one but two partners helping it to deliver more service into Japan. Both JAL and Jetstar are joining the Aloha spirit, though the partnerships differ significantly on many levels.

The Jetstar deal, announced last week, is a simple interline agreement. It allows for connections between the two carriers on a single ticket and also for baggage to be transferred between the two at Hawaiian’s Japan gateways. This is the most basic level of partnerships between two airlines.

In Japan, the interline agreement allows Jetstar customers departing from Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Takamatsu, Okinawa and Kumamoto to connect on Hawaiian’s non-stop flights to Hawai‘i from Tokyo, Sapporo or Osaka.

The JAL partnership is not new news but it is also significantly more involved. The two carriers first announced their intentions to increase coordination in September 2017. Ultimately the two plan to establish a joint venture covering flights from the US to Japan and beyond.

That effort is being rewarded with the first codeshare flights now filed for 25 March 2018.

The arrangement includes:

  • Granting Hawaiian “full access to JAL’s domestic network, which includes Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai and Aomori.”
  • JAL customers will have access to Hawaiian’s interisland flight network and the flights between Hawaii and Japan.
  • JALPAK, JAL’s package tour arm, will sell seats on Hawaiian flights to the islands
  • Reciprocal lounge access will be granted.
  • Frequent flyer points earning will be available on codeshare flights initially with broader earn and redeem options coming at a later date.

We are delighted to partner with Japan Airlines for our long-term future in Japan. Japan Airlines embodies the welcoming culture of Japan and is renowned for the quality of its services. Our partnership will greatly increase travel choices for those in Japan looking to travel to Hawaii as well as for those in Hawaii looking to travel to Japan. – Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley.

So, with so much invested in the JAL relationship why bother at all with the Japanese Jetstar interline agreement? Mostly likely because of action a few thousand miles further south. Jetstar also has significant operations in New Zealand and those routes are also part of the interline deal:

Jetstar New Zealand’s domestic flights from Wellington, Christchurch, New Plymouth, Dunedin, Palmerston North, Napier, Nelson and Queenstown will now connect in Auckland with Hawaiian Airlines’ non-stop flights to Honolulu.

And access to those routes is far more significant to Hawaiian as it increases from three to five weekly trips into Auckland in March. And easing onward connections within the country is a significant boost to the booking potential for the route. Sure, the transfer between the international and domestic terminal at Auckland still stinks. And no loyalty reciprocity between the two, either. But at least the trip can be coordinated as a single ticket to offer some protection in case of delays.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. JAL owns a third of Jetstar Japan, so this is sort of a combination of extending the JAL relationship while adding a Jetstar relationship.

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