Spoiler alert: it’s terrible.
Virtually everywhere I went in Hawaii, I found amazing hospitality, and everything had a local feel to it. After I returned, it took me a week to stop instinctively saying “aloha” and “mahalo” to people. The one place in Hawaii that didn’t feel like Hawaii was the Premier Club at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Keep in mind that Hawaiian grants Premier Club access to all its First and Business Class passengers (including those who just paid for an upgrade from Economy), and to all of its elite members. So I wouldn’t expect the amenities of the the Al Safwa First Class Lounge. But even so, I was disappointed and would hardly call this even remotely one of the best lounges.
Upon entering the lounge, there’s a sign at the desk saying to scan your boarding pass, so I did that. Then, without making eye contact with me, the agent behind the desk gestured for me to give her my boarding pass, and I complied. She looked at it, handed it back to me, and motioned for me to enter the lounge. I’ve received warmer welcomes at the DMV.
Aside from the Hawaiian coffee and the signs that said “mahalo” instead of “thank you,” there was nothing about this lounge that felt remotely local. It could have just as easily been a lounge in Detroit.
Basically it’s just a smallish room with some seats. The most compelling reason to spend any time here is because the airport itself doesn’t seem to have free Wi-Fi, while the lounge does.
There is also coffee, as well as soda and water.
They have a sad little bowl of packaged snack mix as well, the same kind they serve aboard their inter-island flights.
One important note: Hawaiian Airlines has a more exclusive lounge at HNL, the Plumeria Lounge. In addition to being open to Hawaiian Airlines’ international business class passengers, it’s also a Priority Pass lounge. It definitely looks more substantial than the Premier Club, so at least there are some options.
The other Priority Pass offering at HNL is the IASS Hawaii Lounge, which I understand is not much better than its counterpart at Narita.
Skip this lounge, unless you need Wi-Fi and aren’t able to make it to the Plumeria Lounge.