Review: Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport

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We had a fairly short layover in Honolulu. It was supposed to be just under two hours, though our inbound flight was about 35 minutes late, so we ended up having about an 80 minute connection. I’ve never flown inter-island out of Honolulu Airport before, so I had no sense of how long the walk would be. As a result, we decided to head straight in the direction of our departure gate, #49.

Honolulu Airport airside terminal

While Honolulu Airport feels fabulously past its prime, I love the fact that much of it is open air, that there are beautiful outdoor gardens, and that it affords incredible views of the tarmac. Our walk to the inter-island terminal took us in this direction.

Fresh air at Honolulu Airport

Honolulu Airport garden

There was a Japan Airlines 767…

Japan Airlines 767 Honolulu Airport

A Japan Airlines 777…

Japan Airlines 777 Honolulu Airport

Two more Japan Airlines 777s…

Japan Airlines 777s Honolulu Airport

And another Japan Airlines 777 just pulling in.

Japan Airlines 777 Honolulu Airport

Seriously, are we at Tokyo Narita Airport or in Honolulu? I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that ANA has bought three A380s and plans to fly them exclusively between Hawaii and Japan.

Of course there was also plenty of other traffic.

Delta 767 Honolulu Airport

We were totally surprised when we were in this area and saw a sign for the “Four Seasons Lanai Guest Lounge.” That’s where we were staying, though we had no clue that they had a lounge at the airport. However, a quick Google search revealed that this was actually a thing, and that it just opened earlier this year. This surprised me for a couple of reasons:

  • Four Seasons has four resorts in Hawaii, so it’s interesting that this is specifically for guests staying at the Lanai property, and not the others (in fairness, the other resorts are on bigger islands with access to bigger airports)
  • These types of lounges are common in the Maldives, where there are essentially chartered seaplanes that take you to the resort, but in this case we were just taking a normal commercial Hawaiian flight

Four Seasons Lounge signage Honolulu Airport

The Four Seasons lounge is located near gate 24, and the entrance is just past an elevator.

Four Seasons Lounge entrance Honolulu Airport

Four Seasons Lounge entrance Honolulu Airport

A friendly resort ambassador warmly welcomed us and invited us to have a seat. The lounge isn’t anything too exciting, but it has comfortable seating and free Wi-Fi (which is surprisingly tough to come by at Honolulu Airport, unlike most other major airports in the US).

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport

The lounge consisted of one big rectangular room, and off to the side was what looked like a buffet, but in reality we later found out that there was service, so there’s no need to help yourself to anything.

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport

There was also a luggage storage area.

Four Seasons Lounge storage Honolulu Airport

We were presented with a refreshment menu, which read as follows:

We were offered cold towels moments after settling in.

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport warm towel

Then I had a coffee and yogurt parfait.

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport coffee & yogurt parfait

Meanwhile Ford had a sparkling water and coffee.

Four Seasons Lounge Honolulu Airport sparkling water and coffee

What makes this lounge pretty cool is that they can check you in, so you don’t need to do it when you arrive at the hotel. The resort ambassador took our IDs and credit card, and had us fully checked in within a few minutes. That way when we arrived at the hotel we could be escorted straight to our room.

The resort ambassador in the lounge can also help with anything else, including things like booking excursions.

Our boarding passes indicated that our 11:56AM flight was scheduled to board at 11:16AM, though the ambassador explained the flight wouldn’t actually board that early, and recommended we leave the lounge around 11:30AM, so that’s what we did.

As we exited the lounge she asked if we were passing through Honolulu Airport on the way back. We explained we were doing another five nights elsewhere before flying out of Honolulu, and she said we were more than welcome to use the lounge again if we wanted to. Now that’s hospitality.

After leaving the lounge we followed the signage in the direction of gates 49-80, and our gate was just a short walk away.

Heading in the direction of our gate

Bottom line

This lounge was a pleasant surprise, especially given that we weren’t expecting it. In absolute terms the lounge might not seem like much, but it’s nice to have somewhere with free Wi-Fi and refreshments, and more importantly to be able to check-in before you arrive at the resort.

Also, after visiting the IASS Lounge prior to our flight back to the mainland (which was possibly the worst lounge I’ve ever been to), this place seemed like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal by comparison.

  1. Hmm… I didn’t even notice that IASS Lounge was part of the trip report. I’ve read about it, but it sounds like it’s not worth visiting. I’m curious as to why you didn’t visit Hawaiian’s Plumeria Lounge instead. IIRC, it may be far from the gates for flights to the mainland (and international?), but it’s part of Priority Pass. From what I gather, it has a modest food & beverage selection.

  2. The delta sky club is not great there either. The best at HNL is the Hawaiian Airlines Plumeria lounge which is very new and spacious. Pretty yummy snacks that rotate often with a Japanese flair and has a fridge fully dedicated to stocking lots Maui Brewing beers which we are incredibly fond of because we have lived on Maui the last 6 years. The Plumeria lounge is a little hidden but once you find it you gain access with priority pass. Even Hawaiian Airlines Pualani Platinum do not have access to that lounge. Thank you Amex Platinum!

  3. I’ve been through this airport numerous times, and have never heard of this lounge. Nice touch on Four Seasons side. The lounge scene at HLN isn’t that great, but I enjoy the Delta Skyclub for sure. Not much daylight but the food is good and it is comfortable. The AA lounge has nicer views, but really is a disappointment. The United lounge has good views but can be a little remote for non-United flights, also not much in the way of food.

    Lastly the Plumeria is priority pass and is small, but not half bad.

    Nice intresting review.

  4. Okay I’m going to get into my Michael Boyd aviation business geekdom here because this has been driving me nuts and it makes this blog sound amateurish.

    There is no such thing as tarmac.

    There are taxiways.
    There are aprons, also known as ramps.
    There are runways. There are gates. But there is no such thing as tarmac. You don’t and won’t hear pilots or ATC use the word tarmac.

    “Tarmac (short for tarmacadam) is a road surface material patented in 1901 in the UK. It is an improvement on the surface developed in the 1820’s by John Loudon McAdam. It’s essentially crushed rock mixed with cement then sealed with tar. By today’s standards, it’s a very crude surface and could never handle a heavy aircraft. Tarmac has not been used as an airport surface material for decades.”

  5. Can’t wait for the review of the IASS Lounge Honolulu Airport 🙂 Wonder if it is just a little better then the one at Narita. Nah it sucks I bet. What a disgrace. Priority Pass should threaten to remove them from the program if they do not improve massively.

  6. @Lucky – one thing that’s bothered me is that despite all of the direct JAL NRT-HNL flights that you saw, I can’t use my AAdvantage miles to book a direct flight from HNL-NRT. It always seems that I would have to go to LAX first, then fly on points from LAX-NRT.

    Is it possible to fly on AA miles directly between HNL-NRT?

  7. @Steve:

    ‘Tarmac (short for tarmacadam[1]) is a type of road surfacing material patented by English inventor Edgar Purnell Hooley in 1902. The term is also used, with varying degrees of correctness, for a variety of other materials, including tar-grouted macadam, bituminous surface treatments, and modern asphalt concrete. The term is also often used to describe airport aprons (also referred to as “ramps”), taxiways, and runways regardless of the surface.’

  8. @VX_Flier AA has an award chart for awards in and out of Hawaii so I dont see why you wouldnt be able to book HNL-NRT. Keep in mind that awards on JAL wont show up on AA’s award search – you have to check for space using BA, JAL or AS’s online search tools then call AA to book. Given how popular Japan-Hawaii flights are, it could just be that JAL doesnt release much award space.

  9. @Hodor

    Perhaps I could have been more clear. I am not suggesting it isn’t used. I am saying it shouldn’t be used. It’s not used by professionals.

  10. @ David W – “Given how popular Japan-Hawaii flights are, it could just be that JAL doesnt release much award space”

    That’s very true. But thanks for the tips! Much appreciated.

  11. @steve: Since this is not the “Airport Construction Professionals” weblog, but rather that of an enthousiast reporting about flights, lounges and all things miles-related: who cares?

  12. @VX_Flier: You’re not seeing availability on the HA flights? They’ve tended to have decent availability when I’ve looked, not way in advance but maybe 3-5 months out.

  13. It’s great to know The Four Seasons had this for it’s guests. I’ve only been in the United lounge and that stinks.

  14. Very interesting to see how the Four Seasons Lanai has really upped its game since Larry Ellison took over. I’ve been to Lanai a number of times over the years… nice sleepy island, and the Manele Bay Hotel (original name before FS took over many years ago), and its sister property the Lodge at Koele, were always something really special.

    After FS came in, quite a bit of the original decor (at Manele Bay, where you stayed) was replaced with a more bland design… keeping in line with the general aesthetic of the FS brand globally. Mostly a decline from my perspective, but very reasonable rates for a FS!

    However, I never had a good experience transiting HNL (traveling in first on all of the major airlines to Hawaii) to what had always been a miserable transfer to Hawaiian affiliate Island Air to get our connecting flight to LNY. Usually long connections (2-4 hours), and a VERY long walk to HNL’s dreaded “Commuter Terminal.” The only other option to get to this terminal was the “Wiki Wiki” bus… which supposedly means “fast” in Hawaiian. Trust me, it was anything but fast. In fact, on our last trip we succumbed to the Wiki Wiki connecting in HNL for our DL flight home, and we made 2 stops, both picking up a rough collection of stoned surfers who took their sweet stoned time getting all their gear and their multiple boards on the bus. I love surfing, but come on… 45 minutes to travel what must be less than 1/4 mile… on a 90 minute domestic connection. Very frustrating, and very stressful that we could get the family through agricultural inspection, check-in/baggage, and security in time. Totally unnecessary. Happy to hear it sounds like they’ve solved that problem by moving the prop flights to LNY into the main terminal complex.

    I’ve been interested to visit Lanai again since Larry took over (I detest dealing with Oracle… so am skeptical). The property costs are double what they were prior to his renovation, but solving basic but important things like the experience getting to his island could be worth the price premium.

    Very interested to read your full review of the “reborn” resort. Also, hoping you provide some comment on the current state/plans of the other significant resort on Lanai… the former Lodge at Koele.

  15. Ben: great lounge (especially the check-in feature) but a failure by Four Seasons that even an expert traveller like you wasn’t made aware of this ahead of time (unless their email went to your spam folder). Many lower service hotels email me ahead of time with info about forecasted weather, transportation, soliciting requests, etc.

  16. I’m very surprised that the lounge doesn’t have any alcoholic beverages on its menu. The United Club at HNL serves free wine and other alcoholics drinks, just like any other standard airline lounge.

  17. Love the “Honolulu Airport feels fabulously past its prime” comment.
    HNL is such an unbelievably crappy airport.

  18. Hi Lucky- Four Seasons actually has five properties in the state: Hualalai (Big Island), Wailea (Maui), Lodge at Koele (Lanai), Manele Bay (Lanai), and Ko Olina (Oahu)

  19. @ Moonez — Yep, the only reason I was leaving out the lodge is since it’s under renovation and it’ll be a while before it reopens. Can’t wait to see what it’s like when it opens, though.

  20. Hi Lucky- Ahhh, gotcha! I stayed at the Lodge before it became a Four Seasons property and loved it then. I also can’t wait for it to re-open. Thanks!

  21. To note that Lana’i can also be reached by ferry from Lahaina on Maui. This introduces the option of flying directly into OGG Maui from the mainland and combining Maui with Lana’i (looks like that option may come later in Lucky’s trip report).

    IME, although LNY being a minute airport, the TSA at LNY are still very thorough.

    Ohana also fly the ATR into Kapalua (JHM) on West Maui so it is possible to do a triangular itinerary out of HNL (HNL-JHM-(ferry)-LNY-HNL): if staying in the West Maui area this avoids the busy traffic from OGG to West Maui and gets you to your local hotel (Ritz Carlton, Montage and the Ka’anapali hotels) in minutes, provided you enjoy the windy approach into JHM!

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