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In early February, Greg and I flew on Hawaiian Airline’s First Class product from the Honolulu Airport (HNL) to the Sea-Tac airport in Seattle. Since First Class seats were reasonably priced, we opted to “splurge” on this flight and score an upgrade. Plus, we wanted to end our Hawaiian vacation with a bang.
This trip was also a business trip, meaning every aspect of our vacation — including our flights — qualified as a business expense. If we weren’t traveling for business, we probably would have paid for our flights with Hawaiian miles. That would have been a good deal considering you can fly round-trip from the continental U.S. in First Class for 80,000 miles with a Saver Award or 160,000 miles with a First Class Flex Award. For comparison sake, you can fly Hawaiian Air in economy for 40,000 miles at the SuperSaver level.
Our one-way flights cost around $552 each, which isn’t half bad for a First Class flight with a lie-flat seat.
Lounge Access at the Honolulu Airport (HNL)
When it comes to lounge access at the Honolulu Airport, Priority Pass offers two options — the IASS Hawaii Lounge and the Plumeria Lounge. We opted to head to the Plumeria Lounge since it was fairly close to our gate, and we had a few hours to kill. We also have a Priority Pass Select membership with our Chase Sapphire Reserve® cards.
The Plumeria Lounge is pretty basic, but it definitely beats sitting at the gate for two hours. Not only did they have fast WiFi you could access with a password, but they had a cooler filled with local Hawaiian beer, a soft drink machine, coffee, and bottled water. In terms of food, they had a few kinds of sandwiches, a giant pot of vegetable soup, cheese and crackers, several types of vegetables, and a selection of olives.
The food was just okay, but it definitely saved us from paying for lunch before our flight.
Hawaiian Airlines First Class Experience: Seat, Legroom, and More
Boarding our plane in Honolulu was pretty uneventful, although we totally missed the separate boarding area for First Class passengers and boarded with Group 1 in the regular line. As frequent economy flyers, we were so excited to get on the plane and see where we would be sitting for the next 6.5 hours!
We were not disappointed!
Since they are separated into a 2-2-2 configuration, the First Class seats on the Hawaiian Air A330 are perfect for couples . There’s a small screen you can pull up to provide privacy between you and your seatmate if you want to, but you don’t have to at all.
There’s plenty of legroom, even for my husband, who is 6’3″. These seats also come with ample storage for personal items like sunglasses and a small backpack, and there are several plug-in options that let you charge your devices in the air.
The seats also slide into a lie-flat configuration, which was extremely comfortable when I tried it out. (They’re so nice, in fact, you don’t really even need a travel pillow!) Since our flight was during the day, however, we didn’t sleep for more than a few minutes.
One detail that’s really interesting about the Hawaiian Airlines A330 is that they don’t offer seat-back entertainment. Instead, they bring around 11-inch iPads preloaded with movies and music.
I didn’t really mind it. I liked having the screen so close and I thought their selection of movies was superb. We both watched the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, then I watched Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy. After that, Greg and I listened to the entire Pearl Jam Ten album!
The only downside to the portable iPads is you lose some entertainment time when you’re in the air. You don’t get the iPad until 20 minutes or so after you take off, and they take them away to store them about 20 minutes before you land.
Hawaiian Airlines First Class Dining
I was extremely impressed with the in-flight dining options we received, especially since Hawaiian Airlines offered a vegetarian option that wasn’t pasta!
The service starts with a selection of drinks before departure. Options included a Mai Tai, of course, but you could also order Prosecco, fruit punch, or pretty much anything else from the bar.
After we reached cruising altitude, our flight attendant came over with a menu, a small tablecloth, and a small dish of macadamia nuts.
The drinks kept coming, and I had a few minutes to look over the menu. Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining options included a grilled chicken salad and a vegetarian salad for the first course. For the main course, we were able to choose between short ribs and a vegetarian burger.
I chose the vegetarian salad as my first course, and it was really delicious. They served a tiny decanter of oil and balsamic vinegar along with a dinner roll. While it’s hard to get overly excited about a salad, this one was tasty and just the right size.
Since most airlines typically serve heavy pasta dishes as their vegetarian option, I was so excited to see a veggie burger on the menu . This was an easy pick for me considering the alternative option was short ribs. Hard pass on that.
The veggie burger was delicious and absolutely something I could imagine ordering from a restaurant.
After the main course was over, the flight attendants brought around some kind of strawberry pie. If there was another dessert selection available, I didn’t know about it. I thought it was good, although I always prefer chocolate if given the choice between sweet treats.
Once the meal service was over, our flight was pretty uneventful. Since we were spending the night in Seattle and had plans to Uber to our hotel, we decided to have several more cocktails. We weren’t going to drive home from the airport, so why not?
Thoughts on Hawaiian Airlines First Class
I would definitely fly Hawaiian Airlines First Class on the A330 again, especially if I were paying with miles.
Saver First awards for 80,000 miles round-trip are a steal if you can find availability, and there are plenty of ways to earn miles in this program. You can pick up a co-branded credit card from Hawaiian Airlines, for example, but you can also earn American Express Membership Rewards and transfer them to this program at a 1:1 ratio.
If you have the miles to burn, I would recommend booking this class of cabin wholeheartedly. After all, you’re flight time lasts somewhere between 6-7 hours from the West Coast to Hawaii, so you have the time to enjoy the space and get your money’s worth (or mile’s worth) in food and drink.
Economy is fine too, but why not splurge with your miles if you can afford it?