Hawaiian Airlines Installing Fully Flat First Class Seats

Filed Under: Hawaiian

Hawaiian has a unique market position as an airline, both geographically and in terms of their competitive scene:

  • They’re the only major airline based in Hawaii, so while they have competition from both US and Asian airlines, they’re the only one with a comprehensive route network to/from Hawaii
  • They operate flights both to the US mainland, as well as international destinations, though they do nothing to differentiate the products by market — in other words, they fly the same planes to New York as to Sydney

As a result, Hawaiian has long had a hybrid first class product. Their A330 is their flagship plane, and they fly it to most of their international destinations, as well as many of their destinations in the continental US.

The plane features 18 recliner first class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. They feature 45 inches of pitch, so in terms of quality are sort of between international business class and domestic first class.

Well, it looks like Hawaiian will substantially be improving their longhaul premium cabin product, as Hawaiian will progressively be installing fully flat beds up front. This was shared during Hawaiian Airlines’ media day, which @crankyflier and @JetSetCD are doing an excellent job of covering.

Here’s what we know about Hawaiian’s new first class so far:

  • Hawaiian will continue to have 18 first class seats on the A330, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration
  • The fully flat first class seats will feature 76″ of pitch
  • Hawaiian is removing the built in IFE in first class, and instead will hand out tablets, for which there’s an “arm” (it certainly counters the trend to see an airline removing IFE from seats)
  • The first plane with the new first class will debut in the second quarter of 2016
  • Overall, Hawaiian’s A330s will feature 16 fewer seats — they’re maintaining 18 seats in first class, increasing extra comfort from 30 seats to 68 seats, and reducing economy from 246 seats to 192 seats

Here’s a picture that Brett Snyder shared of the new first class product:


Then here are some Tweets with pictures of the new seats:

In a way, the new product looks like the reverse of Lufthansa’s new business class. On Lufthansa the seats angle towards one another so there’s a shared footrest in the middle.



Hawaiian’s product seems to be the opposite, whereby the seats are close to one another and then angle away from one another, whereby the footrests are instead at the corners of the seats.

American Airlines is a partner of Hawaiian Airlines, though unfortunately as of September 1, 2015, they added some restrictions to their partnership. Specifically, as of that date you can no longer redeem American miles for travel on Hawaiian between the continental US and Hawaii.

Bottom line

This is a very nice improvement for Hawaiian Airlines. This means they will once again be competitive on their international route, which were previously served by the foreign airlines offering service to Hawaii, like ANA, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qantas, etc.

Meanwhile Hawaiian will likely now offer the best product to the continental US. Previously other US carriers flew a mix of domestically and internationally configured planes to Hawaii. Those routes operated by Hawaiian A330s will now feature a very nice product, especially given that Hawaiian’s service has a bit of island “flair.”

Does this new product change whether or not you’d fly Hawaiian first class in the future?

  1. I flew Hawaiian first class in July and really enjoyed it. Booked just 8 days out… first was $1200, economy was $800… so I figured the premium was worth it, especially for a 5 hour flight.

    Service was excellent; thoughtful, friendly, caring flight attendants all around. Quality of food and wine was really good (obviously not like Air France first class, but met expectations for the product). I have enough miles now (with the flight and credit cards) for another round trip in first. Looking forward to it sometime next year. Will wait to book until we see a retrofit schedule for these planes. My guess is they start with routes to New York and Asia, then SFO and LAX next.

  2. Hello Delta. May be it is time to put flat beds on your planes between mainland and Hawaii. Tired of sitting upright first class from West coast to Hawaii after I set upright first class from NY to West coast. That is about 14 hours sitting first class upright on delta.

  3. Will these price at First class pricing though using AA miles? I would still rather get the business cabin pricing esp if they are installing a business cabin seat.

  4. It’s about time HA! There was no way they could compete with the Asian Carriers with their current premium product. I will put this in my calendar to try in 2016 either domestically or internationally. This is a step in the right direction, but why did they take so long to do this? Regardless, the change is much welcome and appreciated.

  5. I did JFK-HNL RT in F on the A330 earlier this year. The outbound was fine in the current seat, but the redeye return was brutal. This seat would have been great.

    I can’t really complain though because the ticket was courtesy of BoA/FIA when they had the HA credit cards. ~$180 for a RT F ticket is not bad at all.

  6. Interesting. ANA dan JAL actually both fly horrible old configuration Japan – HNL. ANA’s 767 J seat is pretty much the same as what HA has now. OZ is all angled in J as well. Maybe they will get an competitive advantage. The Japanese carriers (especially JAL) like cherry picking routes very much (supposedly based on yield) – there are some 787-8 with angled seats that they don’t even plan to retrofit and flies an ancient product to SYD (ex-Japan to SYD is mostly tourists and the J passengers tend to be retired Japanese in groups). Interesting to see how this play out. This might finally force ANA/JAL to update their HNL products

  7. Being primarily Maui-based this is huge news for me. Face it, UA, DL and AA have traditionally treated the Hawaii market as a ‘tweener’– the amenities of a mainline, mainland route but the restrictions to access like an international route. With ALOHA going, well, Aloha a few years ago it’s left it to Hawaiian to offer a distinct type of service.

    So, I’m thrilled to have a better First Class product to the mainland.

    Thanks Ben.

  8. United flies an internationally configured fully flat bed fitted 767-400 out of EWR and has done for quite a while now. 2-1-1 configuration so it’s actually great if you snag the “middle” seat.

  9. @rob. Sorry. I should mention I’M doing the OGG route. No flights from ATL to OGG. That is why I have to fly to LAX across the US sitting, than across Pacific from LAX again sitting. 🙁

  10. HA already has nicely timed flights from SAN to BNE connecting in Honolulu. This will definitely make them a more attractive option, and Angus won’t have to worry about me snagging award seats on Qantas.

  11. The fairly large-looking and fixed-looking divider between the seats is an interesting choice for HA. For most airlines that would make sense but given that HA presumably caters to a lot of couples on honeymoons and the like I would think they’d actually do well with some of the flat-bed seat types other airlines have moved away from, like BE Diamond or standard forward-facing seats.

  12. This is such good news. I have wide hips since I am tall and curvy. Hawaiian was the only airline that I have flown in where the first class seats were uncomfortable for me. The seats are like 18.5 inches wide and the average American is like 20 inches wide. Now I have taken to looking at Seatguru for width information in first class before buying first class, which is ridiculous, IMO.

  13. How is there no video screen? The tablet is horrible. I flew Hawaiian for two 5 1/2-hour flights on a Boeing 767 last month. The little tablet only has a few movies and TV shows. By the return flight, you’ve seen everything worth watching. The first-class food — including the wine and coffee — is good, but 5 1/2 hours, including an overnight, red-eye return, in a recliner isn’t that comfortable — especially with the lousy pillow and cheap amenity kit.

  14. I flew Hawiian LAS-HNL-SYD (and reverse) in economy. I thought the upgrade to first wasn’t worth the cost due to the 45% recline seats. Now that they’ve changing to this, I would pay the extra/use extra miles for first!

  15. This hasn’t even appeared in the local Hawaii newspapers yet! This is really great news for the long flights like HNL>JFK. Maybe some sleep in the future.

  16. If I’m seeing things correctly, the other end of the lie-flat seat is a tiny triangular footrest, reminiscent of those vile jail cells that CX had some years ago in business class. While the new seat is likely to be an improvement, forcing your feet to converge so restrictively when reclining is not my idea of a lie-flat seat.

  17. We’re looking for a lie flat first class product from SFO to Tahiti. We fly Hawaiian domestic first class from SFO to Maui a few times a year. Couldn’t imagine going as far as the South Pacific in their current configuration. Their food has gone down hill since the days of the Haile Maile chef inspired creations as well (but recently has gotten a bit better). Hopefully the retrofits will be completed by Oct 2017. Having a true International First class product will be very nice.

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