Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Hawaiian Airlines to Launch Direct Flight to Cook Islands

Weekly, nonstop flights from Honolulu to the South Pacific getaway will begin in May 2023

by Fergus Cole

December 2, 2022

Rarotonga in the Cook Islands / Photo: Darren Tierney/Shutterstock

Hawaiian Airlines will begin direct flights between Honolulu and the Cook Islands next spring, marking the return of a route previously operated by the carrier between 1987 and 1993. 

The new service is set to be the only nonstop flight connecting the remote Pacific nation of the Cook Islands with the U.S. Air New Zealand had previously operated a nonstop route between Los Angeles and Rarotonga, but this was axed during the pandemic. So today, passengers in North America can reach the Cook Islands via New Zealand or Tahiti, making the South Pacific islands notoriously hard to reach.

But from May next year, Americans dreaming of a far-flung paradise holiday destination can hop on one of Hawaiian’s weekly flights between Honolulu and Rarotonga—the largest and most visited of the Cook Islands.

Hawaiian Airlines will use one of its 18 Airbus A321neo to operate the 3,000-mile flight, which should last approximately five hours and 30 minutes. 

Each plane is equipped with 189 seats across three classes, including 16 business class, 45 extra legroom, and 128 seats in standard Economy. Tickets are expected to go on sale on December 7.

Photo: Airbus A321neo, Business Class cabin. Courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines

“We are delighted to grow our South Pacific network by offering our guests access to the Cook Islands, an archipelago that shares Hawai’i’s Polynesian roots and natural beauty,” said Peter Ingram, president, and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “This service greatly expands travel opportunities between the Cook Islands and the United States, thanks to our well-timed connections and robust network, including service between Hawai’i and eight Californian cities.”

This new service to the Cook Islands will connect with incoming and outgoing flights to Hawaiian Airlines’ 15 gateway cities on the U.S. mainland, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, and New York.

Starting on May 20, flight HA495 will depart Honolulu (HNL) at 4:00 PM each Saturday, arriving at Rarotonga International Airport (RAR) at 10:25 PM. The return journey, flight HA496, will depart Rarotonga at 11:35 PM each Saturday, touching down in Honolulu at 5:50 AM the following day. Hawaii and the Cook Islands are in the same time zone, making this route even more convenient for travelers.

Although this new route will be the only direct connection between the Cook Islands and the U.S., passengers will soon be able to reach the archipelago via Tahiti with Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta-based carrier is starting a direct service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Papeete (PPT) in Tahiti on December 17, while Air Rarotonga—the national carrier of the Cook Islands—operates a direct service between Papeete and Rarotonga.