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Bad News Detroiters: Delta’s Detroit to Honolulu Direct Flight is No More?

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Delta Ends Detroit to Honolulu seat

Delta Ends the Detroit to Honolulu Direct Flight

Well this is a real kick in the teeth for Midwest people who connect through Detroit and Metro Detroit flyers in particular.  For unknown reasons Delta ends the Detroit to Honolulu direct flight a little over one year after the route was launched.  I have not seen an announcement or press release anywhere but it appears that is the case.  Although they could be shutting this down to an extremely limited seasonal route.  Like only a few weeks over the holiday weeks in December and January.  We will have to wait and see for now.


I wasn’t aware that this change had happened until a member of our Facebook Group, Kevin, told me about his issues with the route. He had a flight booked on the route for January that was rebooked. Kevin was sent a notice that he was rebooked since the route is being discontinued on September 2, 2019.  He was put on a flight that connects through LAX. The change adds hours to his trip and gets him to his destination much later than originally planned.

I searched the web and could not find any announcement or article about this which I found weird.  The inaugural flight on the route was June 29, 2018.  So a little over one year into the route they are pulling out of it.  That is surprising since the launch came with a lot of fanfare and press.  It looks like the withdraw from the route was done very quietly.

Since there was no press release that I could find I decided to fire up some Delta searches to double check things.  Every search I did for a non stop flight after September 2nd showed no results.  I also reached out to the Delta Twitter team and they said they were seeing the same thing but never came out and said the route had been dissolved.

Delta Ends Detroit to Honolulu
The beautiful view of a rainbow over Honolulu as seen from the top of Diamond Head.

Why This Matters

This DTW to HNL route made getting to Hawaii easier for anyone that flies out of or connects through Detroit.  The DTW airport is the second busiest airport in Delta’s network which made this route an option for many.

The route also opened up another lie flat bed route to Hawaii since the planes were equipped with a Delta One cabin.  There are not that many lie flat beds that fly to Hawaii so this was a big plus.

And if you maximized the Virgin Atlantic and Delta partnership you could fly that Delta One lie flat bed for only 37,500 miles.  That offers a pretty great redemption.

Final Thoughts

Personally, this is a big blow since I planned on using this route for an upcoming trip in the summer of 2020.  Whenever an option is taken away it is a bad thing.  This route opened up another direct route to Hawaii that skipped needing to connect on the West Coast.  Now only New York and Atlanta remain as direct routes to Hawaii east of Minneapolis on Delta.  It also opened up another option to fly in a lie flat bed to Hawaii which already had slim pickings.

Without a press release or article of any kind on the cancellation it is unclear why Delta ended the route. I assume it is revenue related but that is just a guess. Maybe something will come out about the decision in the near future.  I also asked the Twitter team if it was going to a seasonal route but they couldn’t tell me either way.


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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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    • Yeah it appears they bring the flight back for a few weeks during the holidays each year and that is it.

  1. The first flight was actual on June 29, 2019 and it stopped just over two months later. It was supposed to be season for the summer months but they didn’t launch it for 2020.

  2. I don’t understand Delta’s “rationale” (assuming there is one!) for not having the DTW-HNL nonstop as a pretty much no brainer. Having to connect thru ATL is a major pain, and unless you can get the early flight out of LAX, everything else connecting from the west coast, SLC and MSP(when that operates) has been shifted to a narrow body. We used to go thru SLC because at least it was a 763, butDelta seems to want to reduce wide body service to HNL with a few notable exceptions. Dropping the route from DTW was almost certainly NOT a revenue decision – you could fill that flight every day all year. Unfortunately for DTW’s DELTA customers (most of whom where probably NWA prior to the buyout – sorry “merger”), the airline appears to treat us as second class passengers compared to ATL or JFK.

    • I agree with you 100%. The only thing I can think of is that they wanted to use the planes somewhere else that was more profitable maybe. But the plane was full every day so I don’t understand it either.

  3. I’ve lived near Detroit for 35 years and flown out of DTW to Hawaii 1-5 times per year for the past 25 years, always on Northwest then Delta. I call the DTW-HNL route the Honolulu Hokey Pokey.. NW/Delta have put the route in, pulled it out, put it in, pulled it out so many times I’ve lost count. When they add it, it never sticks more than a year so I’ve learned not to get excited when they make the big announcement.

  4. This was never a year-round route; it was initially scheduled as a seasonal route through Sept. 2nd. There must have been decent demand (I was on the flight) as they switched from 763 to 764’s. However, I haven’t seen anything suggesting they are renewing the route or ditching it.

    • They may only have it around the holidays like they do the flights from NYC. But it appears, for now at least, it won’t be how it was over the last year.

  5. JFK-HNL is not a haul I’d want to do on a Delta 767 that they have scheduled around Christmas.

    Thought you were pulling my leg that there was even a Delta option out of NYC.

  6. This has been loaded into the system for a couple months.

    Only a few months in the first half of the year had any nonstop flights anyhow; returns around the holidays briefly.

    MSP-HNL also disappears for a few months at the end of August.

  7. I know the JFK-HNL route on Delta is seasonal. Perhaps Delta changed the DTW-HNL to seasonal too? I see flights for DTW-HNL starting in Dec 21st .

    • That could be the case – they were not able to tell me that. It is what I was hoping would happen but not sure why Kevin’s January flight would be canceled then. Unless they go to really limited days too I guess?

    • I think that may just be a system error. Looks like two weeks of sporadic flights and then a few random one offs for 2 months and then nothing.

  8. I’m really surprised that they would have added this flight. I doubt there’s that much nonstop traffic between HNL-DTW. now that plane can move elsewhere.


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