What It’s Like to Fly Hawaiian Airlines New Dreamliner in Business Class


Hawaiian Airlines is flying its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners between Honolulu and San Francisco, and plans to fly them on certain days between the Hawaiian capital and Los Angeles and Phoenix.

This aircraft joins the airline’s current fleet of Airbus A321 and A330 planes that fly medium and long-haul routes. The onboard cabin offers impressive business and economy class experiences, and the airline takes great pride in delivering a distinctly Hawaiian experience.

Check-in

After an overnight at the Grand Hyatt at SFO (where I spent the evening looking at the plane from my bed since it had come in the night before), I headed for check-in.

(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

The check-in counters had a separate line for business class and the service was friendly. Security was swift, and I was quickly into the terminal for my 8:55 a.m. departure.

Lounges

Unfortunately, there is no lounge access in San Francisco for business class passengers.

When you fly business class out of Honolulu to Japan, South Korea, Australia or New Zealand, the Plumeria Lounge is available. Otherwise, the only way to get access for mainland travel is by flying first class to the East Coast or purchasing a day pass.

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Pualani Platinum members can also use the lounge on international departures.

Boarding

Though boarding was done in groups, there was no dedicated lane for business class passengers.

Premium Airport Service (Honolulu only)

A unique experience for passengers arriving or departing Honolulu is the airline’s new premium airport service, which costs $500 per leg for up to two people.

Arrival service starts with a ground agent greeting passengers at the door of the plane with a lei and escorting them to baggage claim. It is also possible to have bags delivered to your home or hotel if you don’t want to wait around.

For departures, the service handles a private check-in experience and escorts passengers through security to a special lounge for a three-course meal with complimentary drinks. Before you even arrive at the airport, Hawaiian Airlines representatives text and email the passenger so that they can pre-order their meal.

The lounge exclusive to premium airport service, Apt. 1929, is where guests can order complimentary drinks and dine on their pre-ordered meal before departure. I was lucky to have access to this service and enjoy a multi-course meal before the flight back to the mainland.

The entryway to the Dreamliner showcases beautiful design details like flower patterns and mood lighting, with a constellation star pattern in the aisles of the cabin.

The entry foyer walls feature wooden slats made to look like a koa. This tree is endemic to the Hawaiian islands and supplied wood to the indigenous people in Hawaii for outrigger canoes, ukuleles and surfboards.

Business class seats, arranged in a 1-2-1 layout and dubbed Leihōkū Suites (meaning “lei of stars” in Hawaiian), have doors that close for extra privacy. The center pair of seats also has a privacy panel in between the two seats for those not traveling together.

A large front pocket holds the safety card and in-flight magazine. Facing the seat is a large, 18-inch entertainment screen with a wide variety of movies, TV programs, music and an in-flight map.

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(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

Before takeoff, the cheery crew distributed menus for breakfast and offered the choice of guava juice, sparkling wine or a mai tai. Some passengers made the clever decision to combine the guava juice with sparkling wine for a Hawaiian-inspired mimosa.

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(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

The suite’s large side table had a faux marble surface with space for a laptop or other items. A side compartment included a vanity mirror, additional storage space and noise-reducing headphones.

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(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

Another unique feature of the seats was a pocket with wireless charging capability for smartphones. I was nervous that my phone could easily slip out and fall between the sides of the seat, but it worked quite well.

A side lamp added a residential touch, but there were also overhead and side lights. The suite can double as an office setup when you’re not in the mood to lie down.

My only disappointment with the seat was the lack of individual air vents.

After takeoff, the flight attendants unlock the sliding doors so that passengers can close them for privacy.

Beverage service started right away, and the large beverage menu included mai tais and Maui Brewing Company beer selections. Drinks were served with a ramekin of Mauna Loa macadamia nuts.

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(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

Flight attendants laid purple linens on the large tray table that slides out from underneath the TV screen. The table was sizable enough for me to open my laptop and work while enjoying the aperitif.

Breakfast options were a cage-free egg omelet with shiitake mushrooms and a macadamia nut pesto or pancakes with a tropical fruit compote. The omelet was light, fluffy and filling, and I especially loved the salt and pepper packet in an Aloha shirt pouch.

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(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

Service was at just the right pace for a 4 hour and 45 minute flight, and after a delicious meal, it was time to recline my seat into a fully-flat bed and rest using the small pillow and soft blanket.

I closed the door for privacy, and when I woke up, the flight attendants were distributing Honolulu Cookie Company shortbread cookies and thanking passengers for choosing the airline.

After trays were collected, a dessert and liqueur service was next with a two-tiered cart holding a decadent mochi brownie from one of the airline’s executive chefs, Michelle Karr-Ueoka of Honolulu’s MW restaurant, plus coffee and after-dinner drinks. The crew was also happy to pour anything else from the bar menu upon request.

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(Photo by Ramsey Qubein)

When I went to the lavatory, I was surprised to hear the sounds of Hawaiian music playing inside the bathroom. What a cute touch.

The large screen had clear resolution, and the noise-reducing headphones were easy to use. The moving map allowed you to zoom in and out or explore different parts of the world.

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There were numerous power and USB outlets so you can charge your devices.

I really liked the large variety of Hawaiian-centric entertainment, from music and documentaries to films from the islands via its Hana Hou video programming.

Hana Hou, which means “one more time” in Hawaiian, is also the name of the airline’s in-flight magazine, which has a route map of the airline’s network of destinations.

How to book Hawaiian Airlines business class

The number of miles you need for a business class flight will vary based on the distance of the flight. This SFO-HNL flight starts at 40,000 miles in each direction.

On eligible fares, you could also use miles to upgrade from economy to business class starting at 25,000 miles in each direction.

Flying the island spirit to and from the 50th state

Flying Hawaiian Airlines is like being on the islands from the moment you step aboard, from flight attendants wearing flower-covered uniforms and flowers in their hair to food designed by island chefs.

The airline’s new Dreamliner planes offer lie-flat business class suites. Flying business class on Hawaiian might make your next trip to the islands even more special.

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