After spending a great week in Hawaii, it was time to head back to San Francisco for work and the start of another quarter of grad school. Although I’m usually a Star Alliance flyer, Jen and I have heard rave reviews on Hawaiian Airlines so we decided to try it out.
Hawaiian Airlines runs a good number of flights daily from HNL to SFO on their Airbus A330-200. The airline recently upgraded their fleet and installed lie-flat first class. When booking, we decided to take a mid-day flight which gave us time to sleep in, grab breakfast, and make one last stop to visit my Aunt before heading to the airport. We booked this flight about half a year ago and when we were booking there was good availability. Hawaiian Airlines has a very unique configuration on its newer planes with lie-flat seats in first class, a mini extra comfort cabin with two rows in the center and one row on each side, and a larger main cabin with a mix of extra comfort and normal economy seats. Jen and I were extremely lucky and we were able to book seats H and J in row 11 giving us our own mini cabin.
While Hawaiian does have lounges in Oahu’s airport, our economy tickets meant no access. Luckily, priority pass does have several serviceable lounges in HNL, so that’s where we went before boarding. Make sure to prepare extra time as you may need to get on a bus to get to your terminal and gate (Yes we were almost late). Priority pass lounges are typically serviceable, but unspectacular in the United States and this was pretty much as expected. The space was busy but luckily not overcrowded. There were a few drinks and a few snacks but nothing stood out. On the bright side, the lounge is a good place to escape the overly crowd airport of Honolulu.
The seat was spacious and offered a enormous amount of legroom. The seat did not come with any extra amenities other than a pair of headphones which were poor in quality. Other than the extra legroom and the only other major positive was the private feel of the mini cabin. This mini cabin made our flight quite quiet. The one downside of our seats were the limited recline. With the extra space, I hoped to have bit more recline which didn’t happen.
One interesting aspect on Hawaiian Airlines is their snack service carts containing a variety of treats for sale. Yes, Hawaiian rolls a cart down the aisles filled with various treats for purchase. It was pretty interesting as demand was extremely high and from the looks of it most items were sold out after one round. Those sitting in the dedicated economy comfort mini cabin get first dibs. Jen and I passed on the for purchase goodies, but it was an interesting concept.
The entertainment on board was a bit a lacking. There wasn’t a large number of movie or tv selections. In addition, a large screen showing flight information is situated right in front of our seats and does not turn off. This makes it slightly more difficult to take a nap. Service was pretty much nominal as Jen and I never needed anything either. We did not have any requests and kept to ourselves for the whole flight.
Overall the flight was nice and the feel of the mini cabin gave us extra peace and quiet. Our seats felt extremely private for an economy flight and the generous amounts of legroom and space was well worth the upgrade. On the downside, there wasn’t much service and the entertainment system had very few options. This is completely understandable given that we were economy fliers. In comparison to other economy flights, Hawaiian does a good job.
Final Grade: B+