Hawaii service used to be something special. That isn’t really true anymore. It was an exciting development when Southwest Airlines added the state to its route map, especially for holders of the Companion Pass (designated companion flies for just the taxes whether you’re paying for your ticket with points or cash). But the product is standard Southwest — no meals or seat power — and the journey relatively long.
Hawaii service used to feature some of the most glamorous products, even on routes served by the least glamorous of airlines. American Airlines today is run by pre-merger US Airways leadership, which was in turn run by pre-merger America West management. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker joined America West in 1995 as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Just before Parker’s arrival America West got rid of its ex-KLM Boeing 747-206’s. These were three-cabin aircraft which flew between Honolulu and Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Nagoya, Japan as well as New York JFK and Las Vegas and Phoenix.
In recent years the most luxurious commercial product in the sky has been the Etihad Residence, a three-room suite for up to two passengers which includes a bedroom, living room, and private bathroom with shower. It’s at the front of the first class cabin on Etihad’s Airbus A380s.
But did you know that United Airlines used to offer its own version of the Residence on Boeing 377 Stratocruisers to Hawaii? These aircraft featured a private state room at the very rear of the aircraft.
Three course meals with hot entrees were served in the main cabin. The pre-arrival meal was a buffet with salads, meats, and ice cream served two hours out from Hawaii.
Down a spiral staircase was a lower deck lounge with a refreshment bar and tables.
The private state room, though, is something I never knew existed. There was a door that separated it from the rest of the aircraft for privacy. It was “decorated in rose and grey.” Passengers could dine beside each other, and there were two full-sized berths for sleeping.
This 1950 United Airlines promotional video is truly a world apart.
On arrival flights were met by traditional Hawaiian dancers as passengers disembarked.