Given the poor reputation of America's domestic airlines, this was a fairly pleasant flight.
Honolulu to New York
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
HawaiianMiles. Not a member of one of the major airline alliances, but points can be earned for Virgin Australia's Velocity program (depending on the type of fare booked).
Economy, seat 24H
9 hours, 33 minutes
Hawaiian Airlines has direct flights from Honolulu to New York daily, with other flights from the island offering connecting services via other mainland US cities.
The economy class cabin has a 2-4-2 configuration. Economy seats have 31 or 32 inches (79 or 81cm) pitch and 18 inches (46 cm) width.
As has become common among US domestic carriers, there is no checked baggage allowance included in the domestic fare (but flights to and from Australia include a checked bag). It's $28 to check a bag up to 23kg. Unlike most Australian carriers which charge for checked luggage, this fee must be paid at the airport upon check-in - there's no discount for paying at the time of booking (in fact, you can't pay in advance). One carry-on bag, up to 11kg, and one personal item can be taken on board at no additional charge.
The aisle seat feels a little on the squeezy side. My row is one of those that features only 31 inches of seat pitch and that loss of one inch is noticeable. I don't manage to get any sleep on the overnight flight.
Entertainment options also carry an extra charge on domestic flights - new release movies are $9 each or a package of TV shows and older movies is $8 (a much better value option). A kids entertainment package is $5.50. Headsets must be bought separately ($4.50) so best to bring your own. The seatback screens are sharp and bright, though the touchscreen is not very responsive, requiring several jabs in various spots around the buttons, hopefully not irritating the person sitting in front of me. The seats also have USB ports if you prefer to use your own device.
The cabin crew are cheerful and friendly. My call button test shows they're efficient too - I'm attended to in about 30 seconds and my request (for a glass of water) is met in about the same amount of time.
Tea, coffee, soft drink and nibbles are provided, but alcohol is charged for except during the meal service. The only meal choice is chicken and rice with a side salad and a biscuit. The chicken comes in a mystery tomato-based sauce and the flight attendant I ask is unable to tell me what it is. It's standard economy class airline food, which is to say, not great. More enjoyable is the breakfast of tropical fruits with cheddar cheese and crackers.
ONE MORE THING
Honolulu lies about halfway between the Australian east coast and New York City, making it an excellent option for a stopover going to or from the United States. An added benefit is that Honolulu Airport is not as busy as the mainland hub airports, so passing through customs and immigration is less stressful.
Given the poor reputation of America's domestic airlines, this was a fairly pleasant flight, provided one is prepared for the need to pay for extra services.
Tested by Craig Platt, who travelled at his own expense.