Review: Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Honolulu To Los Angeles

Filed Under: Hawaiian

Hawaiian 2
Honolulu (HNL) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Saturday, October 21

Depart: 2:50PM
Arrive: 11:15PM
Duration: 5hr25min
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 2B (First Class)

They were exclusively using door L1 to board passengers, meaning everyone walked through first class to get to their seats (given how narrow the aisle is, that means I took a lot of bags to the face). The cabin on this flight was identical to the one we had on our outbound flight, and consisted of 18 seats spread across three rows, in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class cabin

This time around we had assigned ourselves seats 2A & 2B, the aisle and window seat in the second row on the left (I’ll limit my commentary on the hard product in this review, given that I reviewed it extensively for the outbound).

Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class seats

Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class legroom

Waiting at our seats were packaged pillows and blankets.

Hawaiian Airlines first class pillow & blanket

A couple of minutes after settling in, Carla introduced herself and offered us our choice of water, pog, sparkling wine, or mai tais. We just selected water, which was served in proper glassware. She offered to explain to us the seat features on the plane. We declined since we were familiar with them, but I was impressed how she took her time explaining the features to all the other passengers.

Hawaiian Airlines first class pre-departure drinks

It’s interesting to note that this crew was based at LAX and they were doing a same day turn, meaning they had just flown in from LAX. They were in incredible spirits despite how long of a day they were having.

Soon enough all first class passengers were seated, and at that point Carla distributed the dinner menus for the flight.

Hawaiian first class menu

By 2:50PM boarding was complete and the main cabin door was closed, at which point the captain added his welcome aboard and informed us of our flight time of 4hr55min.

View prior to pushback Honolulu Airport

At 3PM we began our pushack, at which point the safety video was screened.

American 767 Honolulu Airport

Pushing back Honolulu Airport

We were departing from the reef runway, which is a good distance from the terminal.

Taxiing Honolulu Airport

Taxiing Honolulu Airport

It’s such a cool runway, in the sense that it’s separated from the rest of the airfield by some beautiful turquoise water.

Taxiing Honolulu Airport

The captain taxied quickly, and by 3:05PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 8R.

Taxiing Honolulu Airport

Taking off Honolulu Airport

View after takeoff from Honolulu

A couple of minutes after takeoff, one of the flight attendants made a long announcement about Honolulu, telling passengers to look out the left window. I’ve never heard such a detailed announcement about a destination, as he shared everything from the history of Honolulu to information about the state to information about where the largest open air shopping center is. It was a nice touch that shows pride in their home, but at the same time I feel like it might have been more useful when arriving in Hawaii than when departing.

View after takeoff from Honolulu

View after takeoff from Honolulu

About 20 minutes after takeoff warm towels were distributed.

Hawaiian first class warm towels

Then 30 minutes after takeoff iPads were distributed and were placed in the IFE holders.

Hawaiian first class entertainment holders

Hawaiian first class iPads

Hawaiian first class entertainment selection

This is the flight where my Hawaii Five-O obsession started, and I spent half the flight watching the show.

Hawaiian first class entertainment selection

About 45 minutes after takeoff meal orders were taken. While Hawaiian didn’t have any meal choices for our outbound flight (everyone got the same thing), on this flight there was a choice for both the appetizer and the main course.

The menu read as follows:

The beverage list read as follows:

Drinks were served about an hour after takeoff. We decided to have the white wine, which was a bit too sweet for my liking, so after a glass I switched to prosecco. I enjoyed the macadamia nuts that came with the drinks.

Hawaiian first class lunch — macadamia nuts and drinks

The meal service was so slow to get started. I don’t think it was the crew, as this matches what we expereinced on the outbound, and also everything I’ve heard. While I appreciate leisurely service and them being on island time, it really would be nice to have more time to recline the seat and relax.

90 minutes after takeoff the appetizers were served on a tray.

Hawaiian first class lunch — appetizer tray

I ordered the kim chee shrimp poke with salted cucumber and pickled Maui onions

Hawaiian first class lunch appetizer — shrimp poke

Meanwhile Ford had the roasted beet salad with macadamia nuts, lilikoi aioli, and arugula with Maui onion dressing.

Hawaiian first class lunch appetizer — roasted beet salad

Both were served with Hawaiian bread. Yum.

Hawaiian first class lunch — Hawaiian bread

Also on the tray was a “gift” from Shutterfly — a free 8×8 photo book.

Hawaiian first class free Shutterfly photo book

Within about 20 minutes the appetizers were cleared, and the main courses were brought out. Ford ordered the oolong tea braised beef shortribs with mashed purple sweet potatoes and wilted mustard greens.

Hawaiian first class lunch main course — braised beef short ribs

I would have ordered the same thing, except I wanted to mix it up for the purpose of getting pictures, so I ordered the Japanese udon noodles with spicy gochujang marinara, okra and hominy. I wasn’t expecting to like it at all, but it was surprisingly flavorful.

Hawaiian first class lunch main course — udon noodles

2hr15min after takeoff the crew rolled the dessert cart down the aisle, which also had coffee, tea, and spirits. Dessert consisted of passion chocolate cake, and I had coffee to go along with it.

Hawaiian first class lunch dessert — passion chocolate cake

By the time trays were cleared, we were over halfway through our flight. While the service was slow, the food was exceptionally good for a domestic flight, and both flight attendants working first class were charming and friendly.

One thing I hadn’t realized on the outbound flight is that Hawaiian’s first class seats have privacy partitions. This is a nice feature if you’re traveling alone, since otherwise these seats have very little privacy.

Hawaiian first class privacy shield

I spent the last couple of hours of the flight working, and the crew constantly passed through the cabin to see if anyone wanted anything. At around 10:30PM PT we began our descent. 20 minutes after that the crew did a detailed credit card pitch. This time around I figured we’d pick up a couple of applications, since the 50,000 bonus mile offer onboard is better than what they offer on the ground.

Hawaiian Airlines credit card application

At 11:05PM we touched down at LAX on runway 24L, and five minute after that we arrived at our gate.

Hawaiian first class bottom line

Hawaiian first class is a great way to fly between the mainland and Hawaii. The crews on both of our flights were top notch, the food was excellent (and better on the return than the outbound since they had choices for both the appetizer and main course), and the flat beds are a unique configuration that are much better than the hard product offered by most other airlines between the mainland and Hawaii.

If the price is right (which it often is), I’d highly recommend Hawaiian’s first class.

  1. Speaking of bags in the face, why do passengers wearing backpacks
    Always turn sideways to ensure you get a bag in the face.

  2. Enjoyed reading your review of this A330 flight as well as the previous 717 flight; your photographic powers have certainly heightened over the past few years; thank you also for your personal insights. Love all the Hawaiian Airlines branded items (glassware, serviettes, etc) and the emphasis on local Hawaii goodies (Hawaiian rum, Mai Tai and cuisine featured in the food/beverage) plus Hawaii 5-0 on the IFE. Happy and safe flying

  3. @Jon. Amen. It’s not just on airplanes, but also on trains, subways, and anywhere crowded. I recently flew AA from LAX to DCA, and the flight attendants requested boarding passengers to take backpacks off their backs and carry them in their hands. If only that happened with every flight — along with the Air New Zealand announcement that electronic devices are to be used with headphones or in silent mode. It’s amazing how many parents think it’s acceptable for children to use iPads and other kiddie devices blaring away in the cabin.

  4. What is the etiquette for pulling out the privacy divider on a flight? Ask your neighbour first, or just go ahead and do it?

  5. @PDF, I think you first ask your neighbor if s/he wants to have relations with you and depending on the answer, you put it up or leave it down.

  6. Hawaiian crew is the best! I don’t love that meal choice and they have had that same one for a few months now. The ribs are meh and the noodles are even more meh. How often do they change it up on meal choice?

  7. @PDF,

    In my experience, I always make a joke out of it. I say something like, “Do you mind if I put this up? I’m a total mouth-breather when I sleep and it’s not gonna be a particularly pleasant sight for you. Trust me…” That usually garners a chuckle and a “No worries, go for it” response.

  8. …”that means I took a lot of bags to the face.” OMFG. I laughed so hard. Comedy gold!

    PS: typo on “pushack = should be push back

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