By Kayla Valera | Staff Writer

An all-expenses paid trip to Hawai‘i is a gimmick that outsiders of Hawai‘i buy into thanks to TV game shows. And while Island Airlines can’t particularly promise an entirely free travel package to just any willing participant, what it can offer is a College Standby Program targeted towards KCC students in order for them to visit paradise at a too-good-to-be-true price of $45. 

The Island Air College Standby Program is one that should be made known to KCC students as well as all college students within the island chain, whether local, transplant, or international. As entailed through its press release on the airline website, the standby rate for college students who present their ID to the ticket counter is $45.

“I think it’s super cool,” said David Wilhelm, a second-year KCC student from the Big Island. “I would definitely fly to see some of my old high school friends when they’re on their breaks or just be able to go on weekends.”

However this amazing opportunity granted toward KCC students hasn’t always been so inclusive toward students of other schools outside of the UH system.

Island Air employees wave an outgoing flight

Island Air employees wave an outgoing flight destined to set out to one of the four islands offered from the airlines. (Photo courtesy of Island Air)

Having launched the program since October 2015, it had then been only available to students who came from schools that were primarily from extensions of the UH schools including Manoa, Maui, Hilo, etc. As Richard Oshiro, VP of Sales & Marketing at Island Air, states in an interview on the change of school requirements, “since it (the College Standby Program) was accepted very well, we wanted to extend it to the rest of the community colleges since we didn’t want to just make it for the University of Hawai‘i schools. We wanted the program to reach out to the other students at other universities.”

After this change had enacted as of August 19, 2016, the company received very positive feedback amongst students who have taken the initiative to utilize this program. From Sept. 1-18, the company said that 271 college students flew using it.

Though this isn’t to say that this deal doesn’t come with a grain of salt. Before hopping onto a plane for the next 3-day weekend vacation, there are certain stipulations to consider.  What the airline would like students to understand is that the offer is in fact only given through a standby ticket purchase, which doesn’t have a guaranteed wait time or flight that a student can board. The only definitive thing is that the student will eventually be able to get on a flight.

With that being said it is advised that students undergo the process of checking into the ticket counter to see how the flights are that day and to purchase a standby ticket to get to the gate, using their ID to obtain the college rate. It should also be forewarned that right before or during the holidays may not be an optimal travel time for those students seeking to cash in to the standby program. Since Island Air specifically caters to inter island travel, many locals during that time period busy the flight schedule by crossing over to other islands for major holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. These islands include Honolulu, Oahu; Kahului, Maui; Kona, Hawaii; Lihue, Kaua‘i

So as to not to be discouraged to travel at these times, the company recommends that students call the toll-free reservation line (800-652-6541) to gain a better perspective of the available seats. But if placed in an unavoidable situation where the burden of waiting is too long to bare, there is a way to buy a confirmed seat onto the next plane while still benefitting from the College Standby Program rate.

“If they want to purchase a confirmed seat, they can pay the difference of the $45 and whatever the actual confirmed seat will be if they don’t want to sit standby anymore,” said Janna Frash, the marketing manager of Island Air.

Taking this into consideration, buying a confirmed seat at the gate after purchasing a college standby ticket from the ticket counter is still an incredible offer to take advantage of in contrast to other airlines, whose prices can be nearly triple the amount that is paid using the college standby rate.

At the end of the day, Island Air states that the intent of the College Student Standby Program arises from their “commitment to the community that they’re in,” as explained by Oshiro.

“We are a regional carrier, we’re not a transpacific carrier, so our commitment and focus is on Hawaii, so we must service to the community,” Oshiro said. “And we feel the students are a strong part of the community and this is something that we just wanted to extend to the students traveling.”

Apart from the standby program, Island Air, in an effort to appeal to a more varied audience other than college students, have come out with inexpensive coupon books of 6 that cost anywhere near $71 per ticket. These “Island Travel Paks,” Holoholo and Ka’alele, are also suited for different types of travelers who are either more towards leisure or business so that there are more choices to choose from when planning a flight.

For further details about the program or other special offers under Island Air, you can visit or contact Island Air’s Online Reservations System at 1-800-652-6541, to discuss how to make a reservation and what are the best times to travel standby given the flight schedule.

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