“E komo mai, welcome aboard” – that’s what Hawaiian Airlines First Class menu reads, and a warm welcome if just what you’ll receive. Perfect for those wanting to indulge in a little more luxury on their travels to or from the US, share the Aloha spirit on your next journey to Hawaii.
Just weeks before I had read a review of Hawaiian Airlines’ First class cabin in Luxury Travel‘s 2014 Winter edition and was excited to see if my opinions matched. I’d previously flown three legs in Hawaiian Airlines new Economy Comfort seating and was curious how their First class stacked up in comparison.
First off, I feel the need to point out a few things. Hawaiian Airlines’ First class cabin is “American Domestic First” (aka: Business Class) and while Hawaiian only operates two-classes of travel – First and Economy – it has recently implemented their Economy Comfort cabin, which is an Economy Plus cabin and not quite a true Premium Economy. Right, now we’re on the same page let the review begin…
(Note: as of mid-2016, Hawaiian Airlines are rolling out flat-lie seats on their A330 fleet!!!)
With just 18 seats in the First cabin, arranged in a two-two-two layout, Hawaiian offers their premium flyers plenty of space and comfort on the 9 hour 50 minute flight to Sydney from Honolulu. The seats on my flight were the old cabin design; comfortable blue leather seats that weren’t much bigger than in economy but the leg room was plentiful.
While comfortable, Hawaiian does not yet offer a flat-lie service like competitors on the route and instead have chosen to keep the limited recline allowing with a pitch of around 46″ (116cm). The new First class cabin (picture below by The Design Air) has been designed in earthy tones – creams and browns – representing the earth and, aside from upholstery, are otherwise identical to what was offered on my flight.
Waiting on my seat was a basic amenities box – eye mask, ear plugs, and velcro-fitting slippers – as well as a comfortable Hawaiian patterned blanket and pillow. I was told that usually you are also given a dental kit but I didn’t receive one on this particular flight. After storing my baggage and settled into my seat I was offered on of Hawaiian’s signature cocktails – the Na Pua (guava juice and champagne) or another beverage.
(To find out more about the new Hawaiian Airlines cabin design read The Design Air’s review here.)
The large 27cm touchscreen monitor pops out of the arm rest with plenty of choice for travellers wanting to catch up on movies, TV, music or games. I do find that Hawaiians’ In-Flight Entertainment systems can, at times, have some lag, but for the most part they’re of a good quality and functional. I was pretty happy with the range of movies available, including kids packs for the littlest flyers. Best of all, entertainment is complimentary for First class passengers unlike the limited options or pay-as-you-go packs in Economy.
The food aboard Hawaiian Airlines is definitely a stand out, particularly in terms of freshness. In fact, I would even go as far to say that the menu, put together by award-winning Chef Chai Chaowasaree, are among the best I’ve tasted in the air. Inspired by the islands, the menu includes Entrees such as salmon rouland or butternut squash & lobster bisque, Mains including Pacific salmon wrapped in rice paper with macadamia nut pesto or stuffed chicken wings, and of course a sweet treat, my favourite being the pineapple-coconut ice cream! Chef Chaowasaree has also made sure that Hawaiian Airlines’ meals are all natural with no preservatives or MSG’s added and are all sealed inside eco-friendly packaging.
One thing to note is that Hawaiian Airlines’ does not offer special meals to meet dietary restrictions, according to their website, and suggests those who have dietary needs to bring their own food onboard.
From the Hawaiian music that they played in the background as people boarded or checked-in – a little bit corny but much loved and gets you in that ‘Hawaiian’ mood – to access into the comfortable but sparse Premier Lounge in Honolulu; Hawaiian Airlines offering may be a little limited compared to other airlines but comfortable and friendly it most certainly is.
My two main complaints for Hawaiian Airlines First is the seat recline (long-haul needs flat-lie, though perhaps I’m being a little spoilt after flying with other airlines) and the near Arctic conditions of all of my flights with Hawaiian, not just this particular flight.
Upgrades at check-in and the gate may be available. For flights to mainland USA I have been told that upgrades generally begin at USD$250, however for my flight from Honolulu to Sydney I was charged USD$735 which was, in my opinion, far too much to pay for an upgrade to Hawaiian Airlines First class. (I would pay no more than USD$500)
Would I fly Hawaiian Airlines again? In a heartbeat. The charm of the cabin crew and ground staff (particularly those in Sydney who went the extra mile to ensure I made the plane after a ticket stuff up), the delicious food and the comfortable chairs in both Business and Economy – though a little extra seat padding wouldn’t go astray – makes Hawaiian one of my favourite airlines.
Now it’s over to you
What’s the most important service an airline can offer you?
What are your thoughts – should all International Business and First class seats offer flat-lie seating?
- Up to 2x 32kg pieces of checked baggage
- Access to the Hawaiian Airlines Lounge (or Air New Zealand’s Koru International Lounge in Sydney Airport)
- Priority Boarding
- Large, comfortable seats with plenty of leg room
- Complimentary alcohol, soft drinks and snacks
- Complimentary Entertainment System
My trip to the USA was arranged by Discover America.
Many thanks to Hawaiian Airlines for arranging my flights to and from America.
Upgrades to Economy Comfort (HNL – LAS return) and First (HNL – SYD) were paid for by myself.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
Some images used are owned by Hawaiian Airlines.