Hawaiian Airlines Business Class Review: Sydney to Honolulu

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After checking in, clearing security and heading to both the Qantas Lounge and the American Express lounge, it was time to board my flight, a Hawaiian Airlines A330 to Honolulu.

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Boarding was done at a Qantas gate, and by Qantas agents, though there was one employee who was dressed in a suit that was a manager for Hawaiian – I actually believe he was the only employee at the airport (aside from the cabin crew and pilots) that actually truly worked for Hawaiian. The rest of the folks were from Qantas.

I posted something on my Facebook, humorous of one of the things I saw here:

At Sydney Airport, Hawaiian contracts with Qantas staff to do all the ground operations. Standing at the gate, I hear a Qantas gate agent, dressed in her Qantas uniform in a thick Australian accent pick up the phone at the gate: “Aloha! This is Sharon! […] Mahalo!” Glad to see the Aussies getting in the mood!

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Boarding took longer than usual due to some security checks that needed to be done, but Business Class was able to board first.

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Onboard, I turned left into the Business Class cabin, arranged in a 2x2x2 configuration.

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The seats are like typical domestic First Class seats with an increased pitch (they recline further). They also have a leg rest that swings out from the bottom, and a television screen that pops up from the center console.

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At each seat was a blanket, pillow, amenity kit and slippers. The blanket was heavier than a light cover, but not a full duvet.

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These seats were NOT the most comfortable ever, and I would actively try avoiding flying Hawaiian again for such a long overnight flight because of this. I’d much prefer something lie flat, however the recline was considerably better than a standard domestic First Class product, which did make the experience better, but worse than international long haul on other airlines.

During boarding, a pre-departure beverage of guava juice, champagne or a mix between the two was offered. It was actually really delicious, I asked for a second.

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The flight crew on this flight was very attentive, though you could tell one of the male flight attendants was new on the job, since he skipped around with meal orders, asking some rows some things, and others different things. He was followed at times by the purser who was training him, it seemed.

Meal orders were taken with a choice of appetizer, main course and dessert.

Shortly after, the cabin doors were closed and the safety demonstration played. As we taxied down the runway, we began to take off, only to have the engines shut down momentarily later because the Captain thought he saw something obstructing the runway ahead. It turned out to be nothing, though we had to turn around and go again.

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Once airborne, the flight attendants quickly began working on the beverage service, serving the appetizer a short bit later. I found food on Hawaiian to be very good, well above the service on domestic airlines, but far below of what Qantas offers. The portion sizes were incredibly small, to my liking.

Following dinner service, the cabin lights were dimmed so folks could rest. I decided to watch a movie on the in-flight entertainment screen. The selections were decent, though not as varied as I thought they would be. Everything seemed to be pre-plated and then re-heated, as far as I could tell. Nothing to write home about, but not stingy either. Noise reducing headphones were provided and worked reasonably well.

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I hardly got any sleep due to the comfort of the seat, though I did manage to doze of just enough to not feel like a zombie upon waking. Following the several hours of darkness, we were awoken for a breakfast, though it was unmemorable at best. I didn’t manage to use my slippers or amenity kit, though appreciate that they were provided.

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If you want the maximum amount of legroom and space, make sure you select the center section of two seats at the bulkhead. With these seats, you’ll have limitless legroom to the wall, won’t have anyone reclining into you, and will have all aisle access.

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My Take

I enjoyed Hawaiian’s hospitality, as well as their food, though seat comfort is really laking for such a long over-the-water, red-eye flight. I’m not sure improving their food or service anymore would balance things out, since the most important aspect to me when flying a route such as this is being able to actually sleep, which I would have been able to do had it been a flat bed product. However, Hawaiian availability is very good from Sydney to Honolulu, so if you’re in a pinch, you may be stuck with Hawaiian depending on if you can find something on another carrier or not.

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  1. Steven R says

    Thanks for the review, and availability tip. Spot on the food, always has been good in J. It’s hard enough to get N.A.-Aust F/J seats, so this is a decent alternative. Sitting in these seats, while not lie flat, is better than economy. Hawaiian also flys HNL- Brisbane, hope they add Melbourne. The Australian-N.A. market looks to soar with carriers looking to add routes.

  2. Peta says

    I hear now that the extra comfort seats are in the same cabin as the business class, with no seperation? Is this true?

    Thanks 🙂

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