From the time you check-in til you reach the island state, experience the Aloha-feeling during your journey to the USA with Hawaiian Airlines. It’s not just colourful leis, the music or the food – it’s sharing the Hawaiian culture throughout the whole flight experience.
Hawaiian Airlines flight 452. Sydney to Honolulu. Flight time: 9 hours 50 minutes.
Sure, it’s not the longest flight in the world but 9.5 hours is a long time to sit on a plane, even if you are travelling to one of the most beautiful states of America. So, if you could pay USD$100 to fly with a little more comfort, would you do it?
I would. In fact, I did as I flew Hawaiian Airlines Economy Comfort three times.
I’ve been wanting to fly with Hawaiian Airlines for years after consistently being told by other Aussies that they are one of the best airlines for flight experience and safety – two things that rate high in my priority list.
Flying to Hawaii from Australia there are only two direct flight options – Hawaiian Airlines or Jetstar Australia – and I knew that I’d much prefer the begin my journey to America the right way, with the spirit of Aloha on Hawaiian’s full-service aircrafts.
Having begun rolling out in August, Hawaiian Airlines A330’s offer the new Extra Comfort cabin. While not a true ‘Premium’ cabin, the airline now offers customers economy seating but with significantly more leg room (6+ inches) plus a 36 inch seat recline, compared to 31-32″ in Economy.
I was sat in row 11, the aisle seat in the middle row of four which I’m going to call it and say it’s the best row for long-haul flights like the Sydney – Honolulu service. The ordinary hard shell bulk head has been removed and in place fitted with a sheer curtain that, while a little annoying when it was moved over my legs as people moved between cabins, gave me even more leg room than in a standard Economy Comfort seat.
Overall, the seats were comfortable though a little more padding would not have gone astray as they were quite firm. They even had flexible wings on the head rest to ensure you don’t end up drooling on your neighbours shoulder!
One thing I would have liked to have seen is a foldable footrest which would have really given the seats that extra comfort factor, but all in all it was a good seating experience.
Each seat now comes fitted with a USB charge port as part of the touchscreen In-Flight Entertainment System.
While a few films (7 to be exact), a couple of TV shows, some Games, a few CD’s and some other services are free, for the most part the entertainment – including the movies you finally have hours to catch up on – is on pay-per-view. Uhrm… excuse me?!! Yes, that’s right. For USD$7.99 you can watch a new release film.
If you’re an avid movie buff consider buying the ‘Unlimited Package’ for USD$6.99 and includes classic movies, current TV shows and complete music albums. For those with kids, the Keiki Package is a must and contains Disney classics and TV shows like Hannah Montana for USD$4.99.
*UPDATE: If you are flying in Economy Comfort, the Unlimited TV & More entertainment pack is now included in the cost of your ticket!*
Once you get over the shock of having to pay for films onboard, the IFE systems are actually pretty good. The touchscreen functions are fast, the clarity is very good and the extra options are good.
Being a night flight we were served with dinner on take-off and a light breakfast shortly before landing.
I found the dinner to be quite satisfying despite it’s appearance. We were served chicken on rice with steamed vegetables (no choice, thankfully it wasn’t fish…), a small salad and vinaigrette, cheese and crackers, and a TimTam for dessert. This came with water and soft drinks or juices. Additional beverages, including alcohol, and snacks can be purchased throughout the flight at an extra charge.
While I wasn’t awake during the breakfast meal service, one of the cabin members had left the snack pack on the empty seat next to me (something I was very thankful for because it was the start of a very busy day!) Inside was a croissant with butter and strawberry jam, a muffin, apple snack pack and vanilla yoghurt.
I also upgraded myself to Economy Comfort on my return Honolulu – Las Vegas flights. The meals and service didn’t vary by much except I was a bit disappointed in the food options.
For our meal on the six-hour and ten minute flight we were served with a fruit salad, cheese and crackers, an Alohamac (chocolate coated macadamia nuts) and choice of soft drink or juice. Later in the flight we were given a packet of chips.
While the meal was good it felt like it needed a sandwich or wrap to really make it a full-service meal… though maybe I’m a little spoilt from flying airlines that offer full-meals and snacks as part of the airfare, something that is rare with US Airlines.
Thankfully, you can buy assorted snacks and drinks onboard and so I stocked up on some chips, a chocolate bar and water before relaxing by watching a movie.
(You can find out more about what food service is going to be served onboard on the Hawaiian Airlines website)
Arriving at Sydney Airport to check onto the flight the desk agents found that there was a problem with my ticket. Thankfully I spoke to Kathy, the Hawaiian Airlines desk manager, and along with a few phone calls to the people who organised my tickets she was able to get me on the flight… as long as I ran!
Scraping through in the nick of time I had time to de-stress at the gate as the friendly Hawaiian music played over the speakers, continuing in the airplane until push-back, but not before Kathy came onboard to hand over flight logs… and to make sure that I had got onboard.
Kathy was just the start of the exceptional service that was offered on Hawaiian Airlines. The whole crew always had a smile or a joke for you and were happy to chat about their home state (in fact, sometimes they liked to chat a little too much as service was, at times, rather slow. Lets call it “island time”.)
It’s a little bit corny – the soothing music and the “Aloooooooooooooha” you receive welcoming you onboard – but that’s the injection of Hawaiian spirit, of island hospitality, that was evident in everything that happens onboard.
My only real complaint, aside from paying for the In-Flight Entertainment system, is that each passenger in Economy Comfort (cannot confirm for Economy) was given a blanket. After the dinner meal on my flight from Sydney to Honolulu I pulled it out of the packaging and began to get cosy for a nap but the smell of the blanket… well, it was pretty awful and definitely hadn’t been washed between the last flight (and if it had then they really need to change providers!) Instead, I bought one of their souvenir package blankets because the air conditioning was pretty cool and my cardigan wasn’t cutting it. Thankfully the blankets are a warm polar fleece and has served me well both while travelling in the US and since my return home. Not a big deal but remember to dress warm!
Now it’s over to you
Would you pay $100 to upgrade to Economy Comfort?
What’s your experience of Economy Plus cabins?
- Extra legroom (5 inches)
- Extra recline (36 inches as opposed to economy’s 31-32 inches)
- AC power jack
- Priority boarding
- Free on-demand seat-entertainment
- Blanket and pillow set*
* only available on International routes//was not available on my flight (I paid for a blanket + pillow set)
Extra Comfort will be available on their A330 cabin to/from Honolulu from these destinations:
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK)
- Portland (PDX)
- San Diego (SAN)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)
- Beijing, China (PEK)
- Haneda-Tokyo, Japan (HND)
- Osaka-Kansai, Japan (KIX)
- Papeete, Tahiti (PPT)
- Sydney, Australia (SYD)
- Taipei, Taiwan (TPE)
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.