Saturday, August 8

Airline review: Hawaiian Airlines business class, Sydney to Honolulu, Hawaii

THE PLANE

Airbus A-330

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Honolulu

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Hawaiian Airlines’ program is called HawaiianMiles. The airline also has a points partnership with Virgin Velocity.

CLASS

Business class, seat 3J.

DURATION

An overnight flight of 9 hours and 45 minutes

GOING GREEN

At the moment, Hawaiian Airlines does not offer a carbon offset option to passengers but the company has invested in corporate level offsetting. Its new amenity kits, a collaboration with Hawaiian company, Kealopiko, carry a message of sustainability and include a bamboo comb and toothbrush, and reef-safe sunscreen. All amenity kits feature eco-friendly paper packaging.

FREQUENCY

Daily from Sydney and three-times a week from Brisbane. Hawaiian has a codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia for services to/from other Australian ports. From Australia, Hawaiian also offers one-stop services via Honolulu to 13 mainland US cities.

CHECKING-IN

The Hawaiian Airlines business class line is short because there are only 18 seats in the class. The desk is staffed by Qantas. My staff member has just returned from Hawaii and gives me tips on where to go, including where to find the best shave ice on the island. We arrive into Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (named after the Hawaiian senator) and getting through immigration here is a breeze compared to other US destinations.

LOUNGE ACCESS

Lounge access at Sydney International Airport is in the Qantas Business Lounge.

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BAGGAGE

Two 32 kilogram checked-in bags – very generous.

THE SEAT

 Business class seats are in a 2-2-2 configuration. 

The lie-flat bed is 76 inches (193 centimetres) long and seat 20.5 inches (52 centimetres). The colour scheme of brown and tan with blue accents is designed to represent Hawaii’s abundance of earth, ocean and sky.

If travelling alone it might be best to opt for one of the two middle row seats as both have direct aisle access. I am in a window seat and some manoeuvring is needed (albeit a small stepover at the ottoman end) to get to the toilet. There’s a sliding divider between seats for added privacy.

COMFORT

 With only 18 seats in the business class cabin, there’s never a queue for the loo; the flowers in there are a nice touch. The supplied slippers are welcome for the journey there and back. The mattress cover and doona make the lie-flat bed even more comfortable. There’s an amenity kit with toothbrush and toothpaste, pen, lip balm, ear plugs and comb.

SERVICE

Mustachioed Michael, the crew member looking after my area, has a twinkle in his eye that reminds me of Magnum PI’s Tom Selleck. The floral Aloha shirt (and the mo) help. I am not the only one to think so – after a welcome signature Mai Tai, the passenger in front of me tells Michael  and then begins calling him Tom. Michael takes it with good humour. He and the rest of the crew are warm and friendly, and quick offer tips on where to go in Hawaii. Upon approach to Honolulu we’re given a rundown of all the sites we are flying by, which adds to the experience.

ENTERTAINMENT

After take-off, Tom Selleck (aka Michael) hands out 13 inch Ipads that are held up by a tablet arm that pops out from the armrest. The range of movie options is not huge, with 48 on offer, but there’s a good selection of new releases in there as well as TV series including the more recent version of Hawaii Five-O and good food and travel content about the islands.

FOOD

Menus have been designed by Hawaii’s acclaimed chef Lee Anne Wong who runs the very popular Koko Head Cafe in Honolulu. The late-night dinner was suitably light. My choice is the lemongrass chicken with light vegetables and a Lilikoi chilli sauce. A coconut sago pudding for dessert is in keeping with the flavours of the islands. Snacks are available upon request and there’s always a full basket of chips and biscuits in the galley. There are two breakfast options, you can be woken for the full array two hours before arrival or opt for a lighter option just before landing. The full breakfast includes kim chee, tomato and cheddar quiche with pork sausages, fruits, pastries, coffee from Hawaiian brand Lion,, and tea by Twinings.

Drinks-wise, the signature Mai Tai, a blend of rich coconut and tropical pineapple arrives with a retro purple swizzle stick skewered with a chunk of pineapple. Other cocktails are suitably tropical, including the Moloka’I Mule and Tropical Landing. It sets the mood, a taste of what’s to come not only on the flight but for a Hawaiian holiday. Hawaiian Airlines works with master sommelier Chuck Faruya but the choice of wine is limited to a selection of five, including a Flor Prosecco.

ONE MORE THING

The Kawika Kahiapo song Life In These Islands which is featured on the video screen upon boarding will be playing in your head weeks after the trip, guaranteed. It’s hypnotising, in a good way. I am not the only one to look it up on YouTube after the trip – many of the comments were from Hawaiian Airlines passengers, all singing its praises.

THE VERDICT

Hawaiian Airlines excels at friendly service, referred to as its signature spirit of mea ho’okipa (translation: I am host). . The airline is also triumphant in setting the aloha mood through cuisine, music and design.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★½

Andrea Black travelled as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines. See hawaiianairlines.com.au