Hawaiian’s A330 Flat Beds From Honolulu to Los Angeles (Trip Report)

Hawaiian, Trip Reports

I’m back from vacation tomorrow, so here’s one last Hawaiian post for you.

With only one night in Hawai’i, it was easy to stay on West Coast time. I went to bed before 9pm and was up at 4:30am ready to go.

I watched the sunrise from my room in the Waikiki Prince, got ready, and hopped in a cab to the airport. The driver dropped me off at the newly-christened Terminal 1 (formerly called the Interisland Terminal) where all Hawaiian Airlines check-in is handled. With Pre Check, I was able to get through the line in 5 minutes, and then I had about an hour and a half to kill.

[Disclosure: Hawaiian provided flights and one night in the hotel]

I first strolled over to the little sunken garden area off the now-C gates (on the Ewa Concourse).

Then I got up, went through the agriculture inspection required for flights leaving the islands, and headed to the Chinese Cultural Garden at the base of the now-E gates on the Central Concourse.

Honolulu’s airport is incredibly quiet and peaceful at that time of day. Outside of the bustling interisland operation, the place is a ghost town. I enjoyed the relaxation in the garden, and then about an hour before departure, I meandered back toward my gate, C1.

When I arrived, boarding for First Class had already begun, so I walked right on.

June 2, 2018
Hawaiian 10 Lv Honolulu 8a Arr LAX 430p
Honolulu (HNL): Gate C1, Runway 8R, Depart 7m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 57, Runway 24R, Arrive 21m Early
N382HA, Airbus A330-243, Standard Hawaiian colors, ~99% Full
Seat 1A, First Class
Flight Time 4h54m

Last year when I flew to Moloka’i, I was on one of the few remaining A330s that had yet to be outfitted with the airline’s new flat beds. So I was particularly pleased to be able to finally experience the product this time around.

When I walked on, I first noticed how nice the cabin looked. I like the browns and light blues. On this flight, I was in the bulkhead again, and the bulkhead seats are a bit different than the rest.

It seemed like the window seat had a slightly larger bed, but Avi Mannis, SVP of Marketing at Hawaiian, told me that it really isn’t. The footrest is just squared off instead of angled, so it looks a bit different. The seats are slightly angled away from each other, so that adds to the effect.

I sat down, and there was already someone in the aisle seat. The first test: I had no trouble getting over him. As often seems to be the case in business class these days, there was no storage space for bags in the seat, so I had to put everything in the bins.

Sitting down, I couldn’t help but marvel at just how simple everything was. There was one, solitary control for the seat itself.

It’s a dial that you turn one way to go flat and the other way to come back up. It doesn’t give the same kind flexibility you get in other, more complicated seats, but the simplicity was certainly welcome. Avi said that was done on purpose. With more one-time travelers expected than on a traditional network airline, making the features easy to learn and use was considered a virtue.

Under the right armrest, there is a little area to put a phone or something else small. There was also USB power in there. On the left, there is a small area with webbing that is presumably meant for a phone as well, but it was so far from the power outlet that it wasn’t particularly useful.

It took me a little time to find the power outlet. That’s on the front of the center console, fairly far down. It definitely required some shifting of stuff to plug in my phone during the flight.

The flight attendants came through with a welcome drink, but I didn’t need anything. I was also asked whether I’d have brunch or not (yes) and what I wanted to drink in the air (water to start).

We pushed back early and the runways were just as quiet as the terminals. There was no line, and we were in the air quickly on a spectacular Honolulu morning.

There’s nothing quite like flying a widebody like this on a relatively short flight. We headed straight to 39,000 feet where we stayed the whole flight.

The flight attendants came back quickly with tablets for everyone. On this airplane, at the front of the armrest there is a small circle that you push. Out pops a bar that acts as a tablet holder.

It can rotate front and back so it’s a pretty elegant solution. The tablets on this flight were FAR bigger than the tiny ones they handed out on the A321neo.

I plugged in and started off my double feature with Father Figures. I alternated between that and watching the cloud formations out the window. There were high clouds for the first half of the flight, but we were largely above them thanks to our lofty cruising altitude. It made for some great scenery.

Breakfast came out, and I enjoyed the fruit and pastry. The Portuguese sausage was delicious as well, but not being a fan of mushrooms meant the mushroom frittata wasn’t something that interested me.

The flight attendants asked when I was done if I wanted the mini pineapple peach pie for dessert, but I asked if I could push that until a bit later in the flight. They said that wasn’t a problem.

We kept cruising through smooth skies. Once my first movie finished, I switched over to the new Jumanji. I’d say the selection was ok on the tablet, but it wasn’t as broad or as deep as you would expect to find on other carriers.

I had moved into a slightly-reclined position which worked really well for me. I could put my feet up on the footrest with ease, though I imagine someone shorter than probably about 5’6″ or so might not be able to reach all that well without some assistance. Avi told me that they’ve actually adjusted positioning since the initial launch to make it easier for shorter people to get comfortable.

It was at this point that I also discovered the little privacy screen which has a really pleasant bamboo-like design on it.

I wasn’t bothered by my neighbor’s presence before that, but it instantly became much more private when the screen came up.

My seatmate reclined into a bed, and this was time for the true test. While these window seats don’t technically have direct aisle access, there is a small pathway in front of the footrest where you can squeeze through and not disturb the person in the aisle.

It was certainly narrow, but it wasn’t hard to get out without bothering the person next to me. I did grab the bulkhead to stabilize (and would have grabbed the seat shell in any other row), but I found the design to work well.

About halfway through my second movie, I decided to go fully flat. I turned the dial, and then propped a pillow under my head. The pillow is too small to properly support your neck while watching a movie, but once I turned the tablet arm down and put my hands under my head, I could watch it easily.

The bed was pretty comfortable, and though I wasn’t really tired, I was relaxed. I had almost forgotten about dessert, but the flight attendants came back and asked if I wanted it. I did.

The movie finished, and I had hoped once again to flip on Territorial Airwaves on the radio to get just a bit more Hawai’i before we landed, but that’s not on these tablets either. The TV show catalog is very light, and I didn’t have enough time to watch another movie. So I just put the tablet away.

The flight attendants had come through with snacks including Maui potato chips. The screens at the front of the cabin had the moving map on the whole time (I love that), so I could see we were heading a bit north, approaching the coast near Santa Maria. A look out the window confirmed it for me, and that’s when I decided I really wanted one more mai tai.

They were starting to wrap things up in the galley, and the flight attendant apologized, asking if a Koloa Breeze would be ok instead. Since that’s pre-mixed, it was quicker and easier to grab. I said that was fine, and she brought it to me just as we began our descent.

I enjoyed my last taste of Hawai’i as we made our way along the coast with a beautiful view of Southern California. Here’s Westwood.

We landed early, and our gate in Terminal 5 was ready and waiting for us. Since deplaning was done using the second door on the left side, the flight attendants held up coach while First Class exited. I walked through the terminal and headed home.

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14 comments on “Hawaiian’s A330 Flat Beds From Honolulu to Los Angeles (Trip Report)

    1. It’s a complicated issue, and the only fair conclusion about this is to say we don’t know. Alcoholics in general have an increased risk for DVT. However, the presence of alcohol in the blood lowers the risk of DVT in groups like trauma patients. It may be an acute preventative but a chronic risk factor. The jury is still out.

      I do not hesitate to drink alcohol while flying. However, standing and walking regularly is clearly good advice.

  1. Koloa’s pre-mixed drinks are pretty good. The Mai Tais are a bit off. I prefer the Rum Punch or Pineapple Passion.

  2. This offering appears underwhelming. While acknowledging that many other airlines do not have full lie flat seating on routes from LAX to HNL, atleast consistently, having a lie flat that does not have direct aisle access is a serious sin compared to other products. The handing out of tablets also is somewhat clunky and compares poorly to others that either have built in screens or allow on top of that streaming to one’s own device. I’m presuming there was a lounge? I understand this will not be Air France La Premiere or Lufthansa First, but this is really not a competitive product except in a relatively captive market such as Hawaii.

    1. I agree this has underwhelming aspects (entertainment, meals — I still can’t get over the single option offered on HA morning flights).

      In fairness, however, HA “First” is comparable to the Business product on AF and LH, not La Première or First. None of LH’s aircraft provide direct aisle access in Business – even the brand new A350; AF still has several configurations that don’t. HA’s flight times are also (with very few exceptions) relatively short by today’s standards; UA flies 787’s without direct-aisle access on the longest flights in the system (LAX/SFO – SIN; 16-18 hours). Not to mention, very few routes operated by other carriers to Hawaii offer lie-flat at all.

      1. I recognize it is more comparable to business class products, and is unique for the most part in being a consistent offering on flights that normally just have domestic first class. In that sense it is competitive. But overall in the grand scheme of business class options, and considering Hawaii’s stated desire to act a bit as a hub for flying to Asia/Japan potentially, this product is not going to be sufficient for those needs.

  3. I’ve always liked Hawaiian Airlines. It’s nice to have a bit of Hawaii on both the flight to, and the flight from, Hawaii. To me, a lie-flat seat would be superfluous on a flight lasting less than five hours, but I imagine Hawaiian uses its A330’s on its longer flights too.

  4. When did Hawaiian start flatbed seats from LAX to Hawaii?
    I completely missed this.
    Are they only available LAX to Honolulu, or are other routes available?
    This is a game changer for me. I could tolerate overnight flights with lie flat.
    Does anyone else offer lie flat from LAX to Hawaii?

    I say, once you lie flat you never go back.

    1. Paul2 – All of Hawaiian’s A330s have flat beds, so it’s on many routes.
      There are an increasing number of flat beds on the big 3 as well. Look for 757s or 777s on United, 767s or 777s on American, or 767s on Delta.

  5. Nitpicking. But the photo is mostly Brentwood and West LA with Westwood on the right side of the 405.

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