My wife, daughter and I flew to Honolulu in November to meet up with family. It’s a convenient halfway point between our home in the U.S. and Australia. And Hawaiian Airlines operates a three-times weekly non-stop Austin – Honolulu.
Before I was a father I never spent much time in Waikiki. However we went there last year, and again this year, because the available activities are great with a young child. We stayed at the Marriott around the corner from the zoo.
I was able to book $200 one-ways and upgrade using miles. Hawaiian Airlines has two different upgrade inventory buckets. The cheapest would have been 25,000 miles each way. The more expensive – at 50,000 miles – was wide open on the Austin flight when I booked travel. That’s a lot of miles for a one way upgrade, but American Express was running a 25% transfer bonus to Hawaiian. I ultimately paid $200 and 40,000 miles each for the one way premium cabin flight. Paid tickets were running around $2000 in each direction.
- Austin – Honolulu, 9:20 a.m. – 1:55 p.m., Hawaiian Airlines 81, Airbus A330
Premium check-in had a few people ahead of us in line but was completed quickly. My wife had weighed bags, and they were under the 50 lb maximum, but they were slightly overweight according to the scale at the Hawaiian counter. I noticed the sticker beside the scale showing it had been six months since calibration. With the number of bags thrown on the scale each day, over six months, I assume that the check-in desk scale was just wrong. They didn’t charge us for overweight bags.
There’s no lounge access for Hawaiian first class passengers in Austin. Hawaiian provides it for international and East Coast passengers in Hawaii. And the Austin airport currently has just United, Delta, and American lounges which restrict access. Nonetheless we didn’t have long to wait and walked down to the gate at the far end of the terminal by the Sky Club.
Boarding happened quickly, and the flight operated within a few minutes of on time. At each seat was a blanket and mattress pad wrapped in plastic, along with an amenity kit. There was also a metal bottle of water.
Here’s a look inside the amenity kit.
Menus were distributed, and predeparture beverages were offered.
The first class cabin has power outlets. Coach has only USB outlets. After takeoff tablets were provided for watching streaming entertainment content, along with non-noise cancelling headphones.
Shortly after that beverage and meal orders were taken, and macademia nuts were delivered along with drinks.
Meals were then served with appetizer and choice of entree, with dessert to follow. The food was very much a ‘domestic first class meal’ in terms of quality and quantity.
A dessert cart went down the aisle after trays were collected. Dessert was a chocolate cake, and I asked for a drink to go with it.
After takeoff I put the mattress pad on the seat, not because I wanted to lay down and sleep but just for extra seat padding. The seats are on the older side and a but worn, and this helped make it more comfortable.
Lie flat open seats are fine, I think, for an 8 hour flight. And they happen to be reasonably good for couples and families. But there’s no privacy. This is a better product than domestic first, but it’s not a competitive international seat. (Hawaiian’s new 787’s will get an Adient Ascent seat.)
Midflight snacks were set up in the galley. There were two choices – Maui (plain) potato chips and a shrink-wrapped cookie. I didn’t partake.
Without inflight internet (Hawaiian says they’re getting Starlink) I watched shows on my laptop, but the best entertainment was when one flight attendant helped another shovel mini liquor bottles from first class into a large zip loc bag, and then put the zip loc bag into her personal carry on.
About 90 minutes prior to arrival we were served a tray with soup and a vegetarian wrap. There was no choice, and I wasn’t much up for soup, but the wrap was tasty.
We landed on time, and taxied to the intra-island terminal. As a result there was no collection of Hawaii agriculture and tourism forms. Perhaps the biggest disappointment with the flight is that it took an entire hour before checked bags began arriving at the belt at baggage claim.
I love having a non-stop flight to Hawaii from Austin, however if I were heading straight to another airline it wouldn’t necessarily be an advantage. Still, I’d happily take it again if headed to Honolulu.