How to Get a Hawaiian Airlines Refund

Even if you purchased a refundable fare, you must pay a service fee to get a cash refund for flights you cancel.
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Written by Sally French
Lead Writer/Spokesperson
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Edited by Sam Kemmis
Senior Writer
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Traveling on Hawaiian Airlines might mean you’re set for a relaxing getaway to Hawaii. But if you have to call off your trip, the change and cancellation policy generally is not all that relaxing.

Are Hawaiian Airlines flights refundable? While most Hawaiian airfares (excluding Main Cabin Basic) don’t incur change fees, the policies around making the change can be complicated — and you may not receive the full value of the original fare when you make a change.

In most cases, you’re only eligible for a full Hawaiian Airlines refund if you purchased a refundable airfare. Even if you’re open to paying for a more expensive refundable airfare, comparing those prices with the nonrefundable options isn’t the most user-friendly experience.

Here’s how to know whether you’re entitled to Hawaiian Airlines ticket refund — and how to actually get it.

Hawaiian Airlines cancellation policy

All Hawaiian flights can be canceled within 24 hours of booking (assuming the booking was made at least seven days in advance of the flight’s scheduled departure time) for a full refund to the original form of payment. For cancellations made after that, it depends on the fare you bought.

Here are the Hawaiian Airlines ticket refund rules for changes and cancellations outside of the 24-hour window:

Main Cabin Basic airfares

Main Cabin Basic fares are nonrefundable and non-changeable.

If you need to reschedule your flight, you’ll accept the sunk cost of your airfare in most scenarios (exceptions include if Hawaiian cancels the flight, which you can read more about below).

Main cabin airfares

If you purchase a standard airfare in Hawaiian’s main cabin, you unlock benefits that the Main Cabin Basic folks don’t get, including the ability to select your seat at booking, earlier boarding and, yes, the ability to change your flight with no additional fee.

Though unless you purchased a specific refundable airfare (more on that below), even these tickets are generally nonrefundable.

That said, it's helpful to be able to change main cabin airfares without getting dinged. Keep in mind that if your new flight is more expensive than the original, you’ll owe the difference.

Should you upgrade from Hawaiian Main Cabin Basic to the standard main cabin?

The difference in fare price between Main Cabin Basic and standard economy fares with Hawaiian varies by exact flight. But a NerdWallet analysis of more than two dozen Hawaiian Airlines flights across 2023 found that Hawaiian’s standard economy fares, on average, were 13.5% more expensive than the basic, non-changeable versions.

First class airfares

Like most main cabin airfares, Hawaiian’s first class fares give you the ability to change your flight with no additional fee. But for full refunds, you’ll need to have purchased refundable airfare (which is more expensive).

Refundable fares

Refundable fares are exactly that: If you opt not to fly, then the fare plus other charges (like taxes and fees) are returned.

That said, even refundable fares on Hawaiian Airlines aren't fully refundable.

Flights for fares within the state of Hawaii will incur a $25 cancellation fee, and flights for fares within the continental U.S. or between the continental U.S. and Hawaii incur a $100 cancellation fee.

You can avoid the fee by electing to take a travel credit for future flight bookings instead, but the credit is only valid for one year from the date of issue.

How to request a refund on Hawaiian Airlines

The refund process depends on when you booked your Hawaiian Airlines trip and when the flight was canceled. Automatic refunds are given if you cancel the booking within 24 hours of purchasing a ticket.

Beyond this 24-hour window, you’ll need to be mindful of a few steps to get a refund from the airline. You can call Hawaiian Airlines reservations; however, to avoid long hold times, you can also submit a refund request online.

To cancel for a full refund, log in to your Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles account and navigate to "Reservations," where you’ll see a tab that allows you to cancel and make a Hawaiian Airlines refund request.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Don’t procrastinate. You won’t be entitled to a refund if you don't cancel your reservation before the first flight departs.

If you want a refund because Hawaiian canceled your flight

If Hawaiian Airlines cancels your flight, you’re entitled to a full refund no matter what.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, travelers are entitled to a full refund if the airline calls off your flight, regardless of the reason, and you choose not to travel on another Hawaiian flight. Airlines are required to make refunds within seven business days for purchases by credit card, or within 20 days if the fare was paid by cash or check.

Hawaiian Airlines travel credits

If you purchased a refundable fare, you can opt to get your refund in the form of Hawaiian travel credits to avoid paying a service fee to get the money back as cash. You might also get a travel credit for certain canceled reservations.

Just know that these credits expire, typically one year from the date they were issued.

Hawaiian flight credits can be used to book new trips on Hawaiian Airlines or partner-operated (codeshare) flights booked directly through Hawaiian Airlines. However, you can't use them to cover other Hawaiian-related services, products or fees such as baggage fees, seat upgrades, in-flight amenities such as snacks or headsets, or for purchases of HawaiianMiles, among other things.

However, if you have a few sets of vouchers that you want to combine to book a new, more expensive flight, that’s generally possible. A maximum of three separate vouchers can be used per passenger on a single reservation.

To redeem your credits, visit the Hawaiian Airlines travel credit hub page.

How to know if you purchased refundable Hawaiian Airlines tickets or not

If you booked your flight on the Hawaiian Airlines website, you were given the option of booking a refundable ticket. Generally, refundable ticket perks are offered as an add-on during booking, resulting in a higher price compared with nonrefundable tickets.

You can also confirm the type of ticket you purchased by:

  • Viewing the fine print on your original booking confirmation email.

  • Calling Hawaiian Airlines at 800-367-5320.

  • Checking the booking details on your Hawaiian Airlines account.

Are Hawaiian refundable fares worth it?

So how much more expensive are Hawaiian's refundable fares, anyway? What’s annoying about Hawaiian is that the airline doesn’t make it easy to compare prices of the refundable versus nonrefundable fares.

To compare flight prices, you’ll have to go to the Flights tab of the Hawaiian Airlines website, input the dates and location of the flight you want, and check the box for “Refundable Fares Only.” Then, you’ll have to remember that price, go back and rerun the same search without that box checked in order to compare prices.

NerdWallet conducted an analysis of more than 50 airfares in 2023 to understand the average price difference in refundable versus nonrefundable tickets.

For main cabin fares, flights averaged 24% more expensive to get the full refund guarantee. But there was still fairly significant variation depending on the date and route. NerdWallet’s analysis found that some fares were as much as 36% more expensive than the nonrefundable fares, while others were just 12% more expensive.

In first class, the additional cost to guarantee a refund was far higher. Refundable first class fares averaged 145% more expensive than the nonrefundable first class fares. And while some flights were only 30% more expensive, others were close to 300% more expensive. At that pace, you could simply book three flights for the price of one — a bad deal considering you’ll owe the fare difference for more expensive flights anyway.

An additional service fee to get a cash refund

If you want the money returned to your original form of payment, then it’s not exactly fair to call these fares 100% refundable. Flights for fares within the state of Hawaii will incur a $25 service fee, and flights for fares within the continental U.S. or between the continental U.S. and Hawaii incur an $100 service fee.

You can avoid the service fee by electing to take a travel credit instead, but even that has limitations. The credit is only valid for one year from the date of issue.

Conduct your own price comparisons for your specific route to understand if paying extra for that peace of mind that you’ll get money back, should you need to cancel, is worth it for you. But accept that — especially in first class — Hawaiian’s refundable airfares tend to be a bad deal.

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