Sharon and I have gotten to the point where we’ve realized it’s not always necessary to fly in business class. Depending on the circumstances, we’d rather save the points or money and fly in economy class. On our flight home from Hawaii, we could have spent 30,000 HawaiianMiles for a Main Cabin seat or 130,000 points for a First Class seat.
Since we’d be transferring AMEX points for the tickets, we didn’t think it was worth an additional $2,000 for a lie-flat seat on the red-eye flight home. We’d rather save the points or money even if it means not sleeping on the flight. Who cares if we’re coming home and can crash in our own bed with our dog as soon as we unpack the car.
Getting back to our flight, we’d never flown with Hawaiian besides on inter-island flights. We were looking forward to seeing how the experience was different on one of their long-haul routes.
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 86
Hawaiian Airlines flies the A330 on its long-haul routes. The aircraft has 18 lie-flat first-class seats and the rest of the 278 seats in a 2-4-2 economy configuration.
Sharon and I picked 2 of the window seats so we wouldn’t have to worry about any seatmates when we needed to get up during the 9-hour flight to use the bathroom.
Our flight left from the C gates of Honolulu Airport, which felt like an abandoned terminal that only hosts the one-off flights. We were transported to our gate by the Wiki-Wiki shuttle after leaving the Hawaiian Plumeria lounge.
I didn’t check to see what food options we’d receive on the plane so I walked to the nearest food outlet and purchased two sandwiches for the flight.
We started boarding as scheduled and we headed right down the near aisle to our seats.
Once on the plane, the pilot announced that there was a problem with the fuel system and we’d have to wait for maintenance to fix the issue before leaving (because we couldn’t fuel the plane).
As it turned out, we were on the same flight as some friends who were also on their anniversary trip. They splurged for the lie-flat seats at the front of the plane. We were messaging during the delay and as it turned out, first-class wasn’t as relaxing as you’d hope.
We have a crying one year old baby behind us and an already drunk couple behind us. So much for first class. Great to see you guys!
After 30 minutes the fueling issue was fixed. Here’s the announcement we got from the flight deck.
Thanks for your patience. The maintenance crew has fixed the problem with fueling the aircraft. We’ve loaded extra fuel, will ignore our carbon footprint and get you to Orlando close to your scheduled arrival time.
Since I had some time to settle in, we noticed the plane wasn’t very full. The flight crew asked passengers to stay in their assigned seats for takeoff until the seatbelt light was turned off to ensure the flight remained balanced.
It wasn’t a problem as I was able to put my backpack in the overhead and had plenty of legroom.
There weren’t any power outlets on the plane and Hawaiian doesn’t provide Wi-Fi. With no chance to get work done, I decided to check out the IFE system. There was a USB outlet and headphone jack so I was able to use my Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Sharon fell asleep soon after we took off, while I pulled out my iPad and started to watch Book of Boba Fett on Disney+, which I had downloaded before the flight.
About 90 minutes into the trip, the crew began the drink service, soon followed by the meal. I wasn’t expecting dinner, which was why I bought us sandwiches before the flight.
Since the flight was leaving from the airline’s home airport of Honolulu, you’d expect this would be the best meal the airline would provide.
We were given a small fruit tray, a bread product and fried tofu with a side of rice. FWIW, Sharon really dislikes tofu, while I’ll occasionally order it when I know it will be good. This wasn’t close to being good. In fact, the outside was hard and crispy but there was nothing left inside the cubes. I tried to mix everything together before realizing that the glaze had almost no flavor.
Instead of dinner, Sharon ate the turkey sandwich I purchased at the airport. I finished 1/2 of the tofu and the rice.
After the meal service, the crew collected the trays and the plane was set up for the overnight part of the flight.
When the lights were dimmed and window shades closed, the purple and blue lights were very calming.
Sharon headed to an empty middle row of four seats and fashioned a makeshift bed from her pillow and a few blankets.
I moved up to the empty row in front of us so I could fully recline my seat without bothering the passenger in the row behind us. I did notice that while the back reclined, the seat also slid forward, making it a more comfortable position for sleeping than the usual reclining seat.
Sharon slept for several hours in her “bed” while I watched my iPad until my Bose wireless headphones died. I put them into the case and looked for a movie on the IFE. However, I was thirsty and headed to the galley to grab a soda. The crew informed me that the middle area of the plane had sodas and snacks set out for mid-flight noshes. I probably chugged 3 Diet Cokes during the trip to stay awake.
After watching “Free Guy”, I put my headphones back in and finished binge-watching my show. I was interrupted when we crossed over Texas and the breakfast service started.
It wasn’t much. A tangerine, muffin, cookie, cheddar cheese and crackers. But heck, it was free and enough to fill us up when it felt like it was 3 AM. That’s why I think it’s silly to sleep on red-eye flights going home when I have nothing to do the next day. Sure, it’s different if you have something to do but I’d rather pretend that I’m trying to stay up all night than going to sleep and waking up in what feels like the middle of the night.
I wanted to try Hawaiian Airlines’ long-haul service compared to taking a connecting flight on another airline. Turns out, there’s a big difference between the two. Flying from Orlando to LA and onward to Hawaii, Delta only provided two beverage services and some cookies on each flight. I’m not sure if this is different if you’re flying to Hawaii from ATL or New York. The Hawaiian airplane was also a long-haul aircraft with 2 aisles instead of the narrow-body airplanes that Delta flies MCO-LAX and LAX-LIH.
The only downside of flying on Hawaiian was the lack of internet access onboard. Since we were flying them on the redeye home, this wasn’t a huge issue. If we were flying there during the day, being offline for 10 hours may be a concern.
I’ll write about our Delta flights to Hawaii in another post.
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