Airline review: Hawaiian Airlines, Airbus A330 economy class, Honolulu to Sydney

THE ROUTE

Flight HA451, Honolulu to Sydney

THE AIRCRAFT

Airbus A330-200, the wide-bodied 278-seat aircraft that is the backbone of the Hawaiian Airlines fleet.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

HawaiianMiles don't expire and can be redeemed to travel any time with no blackout dates. Miles credit can also be earned on flights taken with Virgin Australia, JetBlue, Korean Air and other airlines.

CLASS

Economy class, seat 40C.

DURATION

Ten hours and 45 minutes, non-stop.

CARBON EMISSIONS

Calculated at 1.3 tonnes for an economy class passenger. There's an option to pay to offset emissions at co2.myclimate.org

FREQUENCY

Hawaiian flies from Honolulu to Sydney four times weekly, departing midday every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving in Sydney at 7.45pm next day.

HEALTH

To board this flight, passengers must be fully vaccinated and show a negative PCR test from an accredited lab taken within the past 72 hours, or a Rapid Antigen Test taken under medical supervision within 24 hours of wheels-up.

Masks must be worn within Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and during the flight, except when actively eating and drinking. Flight attendants are masked at all times.

Advertisement

CHECKING IN

Online check-in was not available for this international flight, though I was able to go online to select my preferred seat the day before the flight.

Check-in and bag drop must be completed no later than one hour before departure. I arrive at the airport two hours ahead of scheduled departure. I'm checked in immediately and staff member requests to see proof of my vaccination, negative COVID test result and "green tick" Australian Travel Declaration outcome.

I'm past immigration and security clearance (no line) and at the gate an hour and 40 minutes before departure. I would have had time for that last morning swim after all.

THE SEAT

A row of four economy seats to myself. What is this? Christmas? Current light flight loads are Hawaiian's loss but they are certainly to the benefit of passengers.

There are 192 main cabin seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. Seats are 18 inches (45.72cm) wide with 31-inch (78.74cm) pitch. They are comfortable and roomy for economy class, covered in bright ocean-blue fabric and leather.

I am able to put the armrests up, stretch out across the four seats and enjoy a nap.

BAGGAGE

Free checked baggage allowance on flights from Hawaii to Australia is a very generous 64 kilograms per person (two bags weighing up to 32 kilos each). Cabin allowance is one carry-on bag and one personal item. Overhead bins are spacious.

Two checked bags are also free on other flights on the same itinerary; for example, if you're flying to Sydney from New York City via a stopover in Hawaii.

ENTERTAINMENT

Here's where I'm a bit disappointed. Hawaiian's seatback entertainment touchscreens are temperamental and not very touch-sensitive. I try to navigate the menu of new release movies for a while before giving up and watching downloaded shows on my iPad.

Perhaps it is just my screen or my fingers, because I saw many other passengers enjoying the IFE that includes movies (new releases and old favourites), TV shows, music (very ukulele-forward), games and flight information. About 30 per cent of the content highlights Hawaii's rich culture. Headphones are provided.

There's no inflight Wi-Fi, a dealbreaker for some modern travellers, but a welcome 10-hour email detox for me.

SERVICE

Ah, that warm aloha spirit. Hawaiian Airlines restarted flying between Sydney and Honolulu on December 15 after a 21-month hiatus. Several flight attendants welcome me back and say how how much they've missed Aussie travellers.

Dressed in island aqua and navy blue, accessorised with tropical flowers, the attendants embodied gracious service. Compared to other North American airlines that can feel like a battleground, Hawaiian's in-flight service is calm and relaxed.

FOOD

Island-inspired food and beverages are featured. Straight after the noon take-off we're offered a bag of crunchy snack mix and beverage service. This includes POG juice, a tropical mix of passionfruit, orange and guava.

Soon after, a lunchtime meal of teriyaki chicken with rice and side of potato salad is delicious. Complimentary alcohol is available.

Midway through the afternoon, lemon-berry biscuits are passed around. Two hours before landing, a sandwich pack (turkey/egg salad) and Honolulu Cookie Company pineapple-shaped cookie is offered, along with another drink service. Water is available throughout the flight.

ONE MORE THING

More and more Australians are discovering the appeal of flying to mainland US via Honolulu. It's an ideal stopover destination, with onward direct flights to 16 US mainland cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Seattle.

VERDICT

The pandemic hiatus has only improved this service. In an age when travel anxiety can run high, it's such a balm to be looked after by warm and caring attendants. The timing of the daytime flight means you can get a good night's sleep before travelling and again when you land in Sydney.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★

Kristie Kellahan flew courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines, see hawaiianairlines.com.au

Airline reviews A to Z: Read all of Traveller's Flight Tests 

See also: Airline review: Flying Qantas feels safer than going into a restaurant

See also: Airline review: Superjumbo crew exceed expectations, even in economy

Comments