As a general rule... on the east coast Hawaii is on your bucket list. On the west coast its on your grocery list.
I struggle to completely agree with this. The NYC MSA was the 7th largest market to Hawaii in calendar’17 and is the 5th largest market to Hawaii through March’18.
Keep in mind that those figures just represent the NYC MSA, and not cities like BOS/PHL/DC or secondary/tertiary cities on the Eastern Seaboard. If one counts ATL and the Florida cities as East Coast the numbers rise further.
If we were to consider the East Coast to be anything East of the Appalachians (which ATL technically is) there are 3 nonstops year-round at or near daily service and 5 nonstops if one counts weekly and/or seasonal service.
Airlines simply would not invest in flights of these stage lengths at the frequencies they do if there was not a strong market feeding them. I flew on UA’s EWR-HNL flight in January that blocked 11h35m. The vast majority of people would consider that a LH flight. I certainly do seeing as I flew on DEN-NRT which was a similar flight time.
That being said, the West Coast is clearly the leader in terms of demand to Hawaii, though it has markedly higher competition than the East. It would seem that several airlines are looking to the Midwest/Interior West to drum up demand. AA just recently announced ORD-HNL on a very limited basis during holiday season’18 and UA has added daily nonstop service from DEN to all the major Hawaiian gateways citing Midwest/Interior West opportunity as the driving force. Additionally, UA is operating ORD-OGG on a 5x weekly basis at current.