Southwest is inching closer to its goal of offering new Hawaiian routes. It had been expected that new routes to Hawaii would launch at the beginning of 2019. However, issues like the government shutdown caused the airline's initial deadline to be pushed back by quite a bit. The newest expectation is that tickets will go on sale by some point in March. A recent new development is giving travelers hope that Hawaiian flights from Southwest really will happen before summer.

Officials from Southwest and inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) traveled on a test flight from Oakland to Honolulu as part of the federal approval process. The test gives Southwest a chance to demonstrate that its long-range navigation and communications system are in compliance with federal requirements for flights that travel over the water. The outcome of the test flight will determine whether or not Southwest can officially begin selling tickets to Hawaii. A Boeing 737-800 plane was used for the journey.

Southwest first announced its intention to offer routes to Hawaii back in October of 2017. The flights will depart from the West Coast. In addition, Southwest plans to offer service between the Hawaiian islands.

The bad news is that Southwest's new routes to Hawaii could be held up even if the airline passes its upcoming test with flying colors. That's because another government shutdown could be on the horizon. Southwest will have no choice but to delay selling tickets for its new routes if and when the government does shut down again. That means that anyone planning to hunt for cheap tickets to the Aloha State this spring or summer could potentially be out of luck.

Scott Dylan is a contributing writer at GET.com and has been to (almost) every country in North, Central and South America with nothing more than a backpack, a laptop and the desire to explore. He speaks Spanish fluently and has logged enough time in planes, trains, rideshares, buses, taxis and rickshaws to know how to rack up rewards and points to get anywhere his heart desires for pennies on the dollar. Email: scott.dylan@get.com.