Friday, September 28, 2018

Flight Review: Hawaiian Airlines First Class HA41/42 San Francisco - Kahului, Maui (SFO-OGG)

As you may have already seen we’ve put up areviews for our Easter Trip to Maui and are trying to pump out all the reviews of this trip! We’ve covered the flights between YYC and SFO and now here we have our review of our flights on Hawaiian Airlines between SFO and OGG. Here’s a quick recap on how we got about flying this way to Maui instead of the direct flights out of YYC.
The Rewards Canada family made our annual pilgrimage to Maui, this time for Easter Break and for the first time in a long time we took connecting flights instead of flying direct. There were several reasons for this. First Air Canada rouged the Calgary to Kahului route so International Business Class pods are no longer available on the route and secondly since we were booking for Easter break which meant both Air Canada and WestJet were charging an arm and a leg for the direct flights! I started researching other options to get their comfortably and found Hawaiian Airlines was selling their first class (really business class but that’s what they call it for flights from the US mainland to the islands) but out of San Francisco. Not a big problem easy enough to fly to SFO from YYC and Air Canada has excellent pricing for business class there and back so it didn’t take long to book all the flights. The combination of AC business class and Hawaiian business calls came in at a price that wasn’t far off what WestJet and Rouge were charging! This was a good way to travel, try out a new airline and add in a day in SFO to our Maui trip
Now to the actual review of Hawaiian Airlines First Class!

We made sure the flights we booked on Hawaiian were on their relatively new Airbus A330 aircraft as they feature a newer business class cabin with lie flat seats. You can find these planes on the more popular routes between the US and Honolulu or Kahului out Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York and more. I checked most of the west coast cities for our trip and SFO priced out the best for Easter break. For flights out of the U.S. they classify the cabin as First Class while on their International flights to Australia, Japan etc. it is classified as Business Class.
Hawaiian Airlines does not have a lounge in SFO but with most of their departures being mid-morning and operating domestic flights you don’t have to arrive super early and really don’t need to hit up a lounge. Hawaiian does depart from the international terminal which means you could use the Air France KLM Lounge via Priority Pass.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 10am and boarding started at about 9:35am with those in First Class getting priority boarding. They board from door L2 so it’s a left turn to the premium cabin that has 18 lie flat seats. Since Hawaiian is primarily a leisure airline and there are not many single travellers flying the airline, the business class cabin is laid out in a 2-2-2 fashion for couples and families. Perfect for us as we are a family of four and for the flight there and back we grabbed seats 2CGHJ.

Almost as soon as we were seated we were offered drinks - a Mai Tai or POG. Both awesome options and very Hawaiian. On the flight there we started with POG, for those who have not been to Hawaii, POG is a staple juice of Passion, Orange and Guava juice.

For the flight back we took the mai Tais and also tried POG with Vodka and neither drink disappointed.

The seats themselves were quite comfy but I did find that when laying flat the space for the feet was quite narrow and I actually could not keep both feet beside each other comfortably, I had to cross them to fit better. Seats pairs have a privacy divider that can be extended up should you be traveling alone and don’t want to interact with whomever may be sitting beside you. A pillow and blanket were provided albeit both were small and light, more like something you would find in Economy class.

I also found the storage at the seat to be on the small side, you do have an area under the seat in front of you which I stuffed my laptop bag into but a good quarter of it was sticking out. It best fits a purse or something small like that. Each seat had a small personal reading LED lamp in addition to overhead reading lights, small storage on the side of your seat which was perfect for electronics or water bottles as well as 110V/USB plugs to charge electronics.

For in flight entertainment each seat has a retractable arm to which the flight attendants come by and  place an Apple iPad that’s loaded with TV shows and movies. Overall the selection was OK - not a ton of new releases but more than enough content for the 5 hour flight. You can choose to use your own headphones or use the noise cancelling headphones provided at no cost. Bose they are not, but overall quality wasn’t too bad.

Should your iPad get low on juice the airline does provide charging cables to power them up.
Overall the service provide onboard was impeccable - the flight attendants on both flights were very attentive! We were never short of drinks and the crews were all very friendly and eager to help. The attention to service was really good. As is customary on Hawaiian Airlines flights, the female flight attendants had the

Shortly after take off the first beverage service starts and as I mentioned above, in reality you have beverage service for the whole flight - the only difference with the after take off service is the addition of Mauna Loa Macadamia nuts. They are another Hawaiian staple and delicious to have alongside your drink!

Based on the menus the food for first/business class is developed by top Hawaiian chefs including one of our favourites from Top Chef Sheldon Simeon. Alas our flight did not have any of his dishes. For our flight to Maui it had dishes by Chef Chai. I started with the cheese plate - can’t really mess that up and it was good. Our older daughter choose the Ahi and Salmon Poke which she enjoyed. All four of us chose the Sriracha chicken dish as our main. It looked better than it was as the chicken - as seems to be common when you fly - was rubbery. The sauce was OK but it really needed a gallon of it to help the poor chicken.

The flight back featured food by Wade Ueoka. We choose the Jidori chicken salad and the Meatloaf. These were a lot better than the food on the way Maui - edible and quite tasty. The POG pie was really good - one of the better deserts we have onboard in sometime.

After experiencing Hawaiian's premium class for the first time we may never fly direct again to the Islands (unless AC brings back an Internationally configured plane or WestJet puts their 787's on the route, both of which are highlight unlikely now) as we really enjoyed the flights. The service, the comfort and overall feel of the flights were great. Sure it's not direct but the overnight stays add extra adventure to the travels and we have already talked about which city we'd connect in next time - so far San Diego is winning!

For most Canadians, if you don't live near Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary or Toronto you are going  to have connecting flights to get to Hawaii so this is something you can look at as many don't consider this option. If you are looking for a fun, Hawaiian themed and relatively well priced premium experience flying to Hawaii I would most definitely recommend flying Hawaiian Airlines on their A330's to the islands!

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