The inter-island flight market was served almost exclusively by Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines until the mid-2000s years. When Aloha filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and shut its doors, ticketed passengers were denied their flights and the Hawaiian airline industry was thrown into disarray. In the ensuing years, go! and Island Air have stepped in to pick up the passenger load. Today, you'll find small bargain carriers and reliable prop planes in addition to the major Hawaiian carriers.
A new entrant into the Hawaiian air market in 2006, go!'s frequent flights connect the four main islands, Hawaii, Maui, Oahu and Kauai, and provide turbo-prop plane service to the smaller islands, Molokai and Lanai. Like some other regional carriers, go! operates by an open-seating policy. However, on go!'s small planes, every seat is either a window or an aisle. The airline's online booking system is confusing and difficult to use; make reservations by phone instead. Go! offers up to 100 inter-island flights per day, as of 2010.
The original inter-island carrier, Hawaiian Airlines began in 1929 under the name Inter-Island Airways, specializing in sightseeing flights. Though the planes are larger and the routes more mainstream, Hawaiian Airlines aims to continue your Hawaiian vacation experience throughout the flight. The crew wears Hawaiian shirts or dresses with the familiar plumeria patterns and serves POG--pineapple orange guava juice--a popular Hawaiian drink. You can also arrange a traditional lei greeting at the airport through the Hawaiian Airlines Concierge service. As of 2010, Hawaiian Airlines offers 165 inter-land flight daily.
Originally specializing in prop planes, in 2006, Island Air started flying large carrier aircraft and expanded its route to include seven major airports on six islands. The airline now serves Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai and Hawaii. Since its beginnings as a resort shuttle, Island Air has offered extra amenities to provide a more comfortable and exclusive experience. All planes have leather seats and the crew serves Hawaiian coffee, with flavors changing daily. As of 2010, Island Air offers over 50 flights daily. Be careful not to confuse Island Air with Island Airlines, which serves Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.
Pacific Wings services only Maui's county airports, Honolulu and Kaunakakai, Molokai. Though it is cost-prohibitive on many routes, the Kahalui to Molokai flight is guaranteed at $29 per person, as of 2010, down from $50 in 2008. The flight can be cheaper and easier to schedule than the inter-island ferry, and the low-flying planes offer excellent sightseeing. Pacific Wings offers over 25 flights daily, as of 2010.