Honolulu airport in Hawaii: domestic flights to the islands and international routes

Whether you will be flying from overseas for your holiday in Waikiki beach or you are trying to configure an itinerary that allows you to visit the different islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, chances are that you will land in Daniel K. Inouye International airport (HNL) -commonly referred to as Honolulu airport– when you fly into Hawaii.

HNL airport in Hawaii is considered as its primary air passenger terminal because of its privileged location on the capital of the state in Oahu island. While there are several ways for arriving travellers to commute from Honolulu airport to the downtown and the popular Waikiki beach resort area, in order to transfer from Oahu to other islands in the archipelago like Maui, Lanai, Kauai and Molokai, domestic flights operated by Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele or Southwest are the fastest and most effective means of transportation.

Continue reading below to find out how you can get to your hotel or resort in Hawaii after collecting your bags in Honolulu, which airlines run inbound services from international airports in Asia, Australia and the United States and what you can do while you are in the terminals.

Terminals of Honolulu International airport in Hawaii

Daniel K. Inouye airport has three terminal buildings: the domestic T1, the international T2 and T3. If you are flying from an overseas airport –either directly or aboard a connecting flight- it is very likely that you will land in terminal 2 of Honolulu airport, whereas you will need to go through terminal 1 when departing or arriving on a domestic flight. All three terminals are connected by a courtesy shuttle on the landside; as for the airside, you can take a shuttle or walk between terminals 1 and 2 since all gates share a common space. However, bear in mind that you will undergo hand-luggage inspection when going from terminal 1 to terminal 2.

Hawaiian Airlines has its home in Terminal 1 of Honolulu airport, although its international routes are handled from Terminal 2 alongside with those by Air Asia, Air Canada, Asiana, Delta, JetStar, Korean Air, Qantas, Scoot and United, to mention but a few. Terminal 3 is used by Mokulele Airlines exclusively.

Travelling from Honolulu airport to Waikiki beach or the downtown

Several ground transportation options are put at the travellers’ disposal upon arriving in Honolulu airport:

-Public bus routes 19 and 20 depart from the upper departures level towards central Honolulu and Waikiki.

-The Roberts Hawaii Express is an on-demand shuttle service offering private transportation to your final destination in Oahu island every day of the year.

-Taxi dispatchers outside the baggage claim area will guide you to an official vehicle for a quick, convenient taxi ride to your beach resort in Waikiki.

-The car rental offices in Honolulu airport –operated by Avis, Advantage, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National- are located in Terminal 2 on its ground level.

At present, the construction of a railway network linking the airport terminals of HNL to the downtown is underway, and travellers should be able to start using it by 2025.

Domestic flights from Honolulu airport to the Hawaiian islands

Flights between Oahu and the rest of the islands in Hawaii are operated by Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Mokulele Air. Hawaiian is the one handling the highest number of routes –from Honolulu airport to Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Kaulapapa, Kapalua, Molokai, Hilo, Lihue and Lanai-, but Southwest and Mokulele are equally valid options offering connections to Kahului and Kailua Kona in the first case and also to Hilo airport, Lihue and Lanai in the latter.

Find international flights to Hawaii

A good number of airline companies operate seasonal routes to and from Hawaii for holiday goers, but below we will mention those offering flights all year round as part of their calendar of regular scheduled operations. Thus, you can fly to Honolulu International airport from Kuala Lumpur (with Air Asia); Beijing Capital (Air China); Auckland (Air New Zealand); Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego; san Francisco and Seattle (Alaska Airlines); Dallas Fort Worth and Phoenix Sky Harbor (American Air); Seoul Incheon (Asiana); Taipei Taoyuan (China Airlines); Shanghai Pudong (China Eastern); Atlanta, Nagoya, Osaka-Kansai and Tokyo Narita (Delta and Japan Airlines); Melbourne and Sydney (Jetstar or Qantas); Seoul Incheon and Tokyo Narita (Korean Air); Manila (Philippines Airlines) and New York Newark, Chicago O’hare, Denver, Houston International and Washington Dulles (United).

What to do in Honolulu airport

While in Daniel K. Inouye airport you will find both practical amenities to enhance your travel experience and interesting things to do during your waiting time before boarding the plane. To get equipped for the journey ahead, get a phone card, a charger or a power adapter for your stay, a pillow or an eye-mask for the flight or a souvenir to take home with you.

Also, you will find business facilities across the buildings, as well as an accessible free WiFi network available. If you would rather stay offline and enjoy the last moments of your vacation in Hawaii, visit the Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese Gardens situated near the check-in area and the walkway towards Terminal 2.

Have you got everything sorted out for your vacation? There might be other options you should be aware of, such as ferry services to certain islands, direct flights to minor airports from the USA or recommended places to stay in Molokai, Kailua, Honolulu or Maui. For further info, visit our recent post about planning an independent trip to Hawaii.