Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
With so many airlines flying between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, you’re spoiled for choice. So what is it like to fly to the islands with the local carrier, Hawaiian Airlines?
The airline commenced service from my home airport of Austin, Texas in late April 2021. I booked the roundtrip flight for 80,000 HawaiianMiles (transferred from American Express Membership Rewards points) + $11.20 in taxes.
In this review, we look at what to expect from the seat comfort, privacy, customer service, food, drinks and onboard entertainment. Plus, we cover which routes feature lie-flat seats, and how to book a flight using frequent flyer points.
Which Routes Can You Fly Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class On?
Hawaiian Airlines operates its Airbus A330 aircraft between Honolulu and major U.S. mainland cities, such as:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Diego
- San Francisco
You can also find the A330 flying on a smaller number of routes from Maui, such as Kahului to Los Angeles and Seattle.
Secondary airports such as Long Beach, Oakland and San Jose are serviced by Airbus A321neo aircraft, which have recliner seats in First Class, i.e. the ones that do not recline to lie-flat mode.
Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Seat
This cabin is set up in a 2-2-2 configuration, with 18 lie-flat seats spread across 3 rows.
The seats face ever-so-slightly away from another.
The manual privacy divider is surprisingly effective and will come in handy if you’re traveling by yourself. Just note it needs to be retracted for takeoff and landing.
The seat area is long and open, especially when in lie-flat mode.
You’ll find a comfortable mattress pad and an (average) pillow waiting at your seat. You can ask the cabin crew if they have any extra pillows to increase comfort.
My tip is to put your mattress pad on the seat before takeoff. This will make the seat more comfortable and means you don’t have to do it later on.
In ‘bed mode’, the seat is one of the more comfortable I’ve flown on. I’m 5’11” and had ample room to stretch out. I was able to nap on both of my (daytime) flights to and from Austin; a comfortable bed is even more important on overnight services.
The storage space close to the floor in front of your seat can fit water bottles, your amenities kit and books.
Laptops measuring 13 inches and smaller can fit in the side storage.
I did find on both of my flights that there was noticeable wear-and-tear on the seat and food crumbs from previous passengers.
Which Are The Best Seats In Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class?
With Hawaii being the beach/honeymoon/leisure destination that it is, this cabin is designed with traveling couples in mind, hence the 2-2-2 configuration.
Couples should choose seats A and B, or H and J to be closest to the window (rather than the center of the cabin). Solo travelers will want to opt for an A or J window seat for maximum privacy.
I’d recommend avoiding row one, and choosing rows two or three instead to avoid noise and light from the forward galley.
Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Amenities Food & Beverage
Let me just say this: Hawaiian Airlines is generous with their alcohol. I’ve flown on a lot of different airlines and Hawaiian is the winner for strongest cocktails. Their signature Mai Tais are delicious and the crew are very liberal and prompt with refilling drinks throughout the flight.
All the food I had was delicious, fresh and flavorful. Depending on the length of your flight, you’ll get one or two main meals with tea and coffee service.
For reference, here is a sample menu from one of my flights:
Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Service
Whilst the seat, food and drinks are all great, the service on Hawaiian could be improved, especially compared to carriers like Delta and Alaska Airlines.
Over the course of 10 days, I took six flights with the airline, including connecting flights between the islands. I found the cabin crew to be friendly enough but not overly warm.
Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Entertainment
As opposed to the other major carriers flying to and from the islands, Hawaiian Airlines does not have built-in screens in First Class. Rather, they have pop-out holders which large iPads are put on. This makes it cumbersome to get in and out of your seat to use the bathroom.
Furthermore, the selection is limited, with most ‘new releases’ at least four months old, and only four kids’ movies. Therefore, my tip is to bring your own device preloaded with the entertainment that you know you’ll enjoy.
The noise-canceling headphones provided are below-average in terms of quality. Again, BYO is best.
Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Amenities
There is only one lavatory at the front of the cabin for the 18 First Class passengers. Therefore, you may want to walk back through the Economy Comfort (Premium Economy) section to access two other restrooms.
The airline provides First Class passengers with a useful, eco-friendly amenities kit. I was impressed with the paper packaging and the items made out of wood rather than plastic.
How Can I Book Hawaiian Airlines First Class With Points?
- Earn HawaiianMiles through a credit card, or transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy or American Express Membership Rewards
- Check how many HawaiianMiles are required for your trip here (prices are one-way)
- Sign in to your HawaiianMiles account (or create one for free here)
- Select Book Award Travel
- Search for your flights, with Miles as the payment option
- Pay applicable taxes (usually $5.60 one-way)
If you can find a one-way flight to Hawaii from the mainland for 40,000 miles, that’s a good deal. However, the airline does have a two-tiered pricing structure, meaning that it can cost as much as 80,000-130,000 miles one-way, depending on which airport you’re flying from. At the higher price, the value proposition is not as strong.
Bottom Line: What’s Hawaiian Airlines A330 First Class Like?
If you’re looking for a lie-flat seat to and from Hawaii and can find award space using points, or are happy with the cash price, then go for it! You’ll enjoy a comfortable seat (especially in lie-flat mode), delicious food and drinks, and a chill vibe onboard.
Given the inflight entertainment system is subpar, it’s best to bring your own device with preloaded entertainment. You can also make your seat more comfortable by placing the mattress pad on it during boarding, as well as asking the crew for an extra pillow or two.
Finally, try to pre-select a window seat in row two or three to maximize privacy, and kick your Hawaiian vacation off with a relaxing and enjoyable flight.