Airline review: Hawaiian Airlines economy extra comfort, Honolulu to Sydney

THE ROUTE

Honolulu to Sydney

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-200

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

HawaiianMiles (also partnered with Virgin Australia's Velocity scheme)

CLASS

Economy extra comfort, seat 33C

DURATION

Ten hours, 40 minutes

FREQUENCY

One daily return flight

SEAT

Thirty-six inch (91cm) pitch, 18 inch (45 cm) width and in-seat power (both USB and power point). It's a 2-4-2 layout for the 40 economy comfort and 236 standard economy class seats. There is a business-class cabin in front with 18 recliner seats, but from next year they will be replaced with fully flat beds and the economy extra comfort section will be expanded with another 28 seats added, replacing some regular economy seats. An upgrade to extra comfort can be purchased at check-in for $US125 ($163) a person and also includes priority boarding just after business class.

BAGGAGE

Two checked bags of up to 32 kilograms, plus one carry-on bag with up to 11.5 kilograms as well as a personal item such as a handbag or laptop bag.

COMFORT

This is an all-day flight, departing at 11:40am Honolulu time and landing at 7:20pm in Sydney. I am seated in a bulkhead with plenty of leg room, separate from the main economy comfort cabin toward the front of the plane. There is a blanket and pillow already on the seat when I board and the pillow provides handy back support when reclining, while the blanket is well appreciated given it is freezing cold near the emergency exit. Before takeoff I receive an amenity kit in a cute Hawaiian theme canvas bag and a pair of fairly flimsy earbud headphones. (You can bring your own as no adaptor is needed.) The amenity kit has everything I would want even in a business class kit (eye mask, tissue, toothbrush, lotion, lip balm) – except socks, an unusual omission on a flight where many passengers are wearing sandals or thongs.

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ENTERTAINMENT

A decent if not overwhelming selection of on demand in-flight movies, including new blockbusters like Jurassic World, Ant-Man and Entourage included in the price of economy extra comfort seats that would be pay per view in the regular economy seats. Television shows and older movies are free for all economy class seats.

SERVICE

Friendly, if not overly personal given the large size of the cabin. The flight attendants come through the cabin with water regularly during the flight.

FOOD

Soon after takeoff we are served a choice of complimentary beverages, including beer, wine and some spirits with a small packet of snack mix. About an hour later, lunch is offered. The only option is teriyaki chicken with rice and vegetables, accompanied by a small salad and desert. I am a pescetarian and was pre-warned on the website they do not cater for any special meals at all, whether they be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher or halal and was advised to bring my own food on board. The airport take-away selection for vegetarians is very limited - particularly for food that will last on a 10-plus hour flight - so I buy a bagel and cream cheese at Starbucks as my main meal for lunch and bring along some extra snacks. An hour before landing, passengers are offered meat sandwiches and another drink service. Vicky Nakata, the vice president of loyalty and travel products, tells me the airline is considering a test of offering pre-ordered meals suitable for various diets for purchase. That would be a welcome development, but ideally it shouldn't cost extra for a vegetarian meal.

ONE MORE THING ...

I really appreciated the airline posting polite signs at the bulkhead seats (like mine) asking other passengers not to use it as a footpath, as often occurs on other carriers. It worked like a charm, allowing me to maintain my extra legroom for once.

THE VERDICT

Economy extra comfort indeed makes for a very comfortable flight, and for those who value space and few extra perks like earlier boarding and in-seat power, it is well worth the price. But those with special dietary requirements beware - for you, the catering on this long flight is BYO.

Tested by Jamie Freed, who flew courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.

See also: 20 reasons to visit incredible Maui

See also: The one thing you should wear in Honolulu

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