Review: Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 Business Class (Honolulu-Sydney)

Before its new business class arrives in late 2023, Hawaiian's A330 premium cabin is still a stylish way to cross the Pacific.

Overall Rating

By Matt Lennon, August 12 2022
Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 Business Class (Honolulu-Sydney)
Route

Honolulu - Sydney

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330

Airline

Hawaiian Airlines

Flight

HA451

Cabin Class

Premium Cabin (Business Class)

Seat

1B

Notes
The Good
  • Relaxed Hawaiian service
  • Ukulele-playing cabin crew
  • Lie-flat bed with a mattress topper
The Bad
  • Not every seat offers direct aisle access
  • Slim pickings on iPad Pro inflight entertainment
X-Factor
  • Authentic Hawaiian touches
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Hawaiian Airlines is once-again in full swing ferrying Hawaii-bound holiday hunters and those connecting on to 16 (at last count) cities on the U.S. mainland from Sydney. 

Jetting off daily between Sydney and Honolulu, the airline’s Airbus A330 traverses the Pacific in 10 hours give-or-take, depending on direction.

Our Airbus A330 at the gate in Honolulu.
Our Airbus A330 at the gate in Honolulu.

The east-bound leg HA452 pushes back from Sydney just before 10pm, crossing the international date line and arriving around 11:30am on the same day. Conversely, the return journey as HA451 sets off at around 1pm, landing at 7pm the following day.

A two-class service with business and economy seating, Executive Traveller recently enjoyed the crossing from Honolulu to Sydney in the lie-flat comfort of Hawaiian’s premium cabin.

As a partner airline of Virgin Australia, flying with Hawaiian will see your Velocity card flushed with a decent haul of up to 7,590 points and 160 status credits for a business class seat.

If you're a member of the Hawaiian Miles program, you'll earn the same 7,590 miles for business class which is more than one-third of the way towards achieving Pualani Gold Elite status.

Check-in

It’s well known that all travellers entering the United States must retrieve their bags at their first point of entry. 

However, it’s a different story in reverse. If your international ticket sees you connecting in the US and continuing to Australia or another country, your bags can be tagged through, and you won’t need to see them again until you wearily collect them at the end of your journey.

In this case, we’re beginning our trip amid the bright lights and razzamatazz of Las Vegas, connecting through Honolulu and on to Sydney. 

Las Vegas is one of 16 cities on the U.S. mainland Hawaiian Airlines connects.
Las Vegas is one of 16 cities on the U.S. mainland Hawaiian Airlines connects.

Check-in is first for a domestic leg to Honolulu departing just before 2am, so Harry Reid International Airport – east of ‘The Strip’ – is quiet, largely empty and very efficient. A queue for international connections separates us from the Waikiki-bound sunseekers and we’re presented with two boarding passes covering both this flight and our onward connection.

We entrust our suitcase to Hawaiian Airlines and look forward to our reunification with it in the NSW capital.

Lounge

Hawaiian Airlines offers no lounge access in the mainland United States, so you’ll need to wait until Honolulu to access such a facility.

Greeting you there is the Plumeria Lounge, open to business class guests travelling internationally, platinum members of Hawaiian Miles – Hawaiian Airlines’ loyalty program – and first class flyers connecting to a mainland destination on the east coast, namely Boston or New York JFK. Or, to anyone with US$40 to spare for a day pass.

Signage to the lounge is not strong but find the escalators and you're nearly there.
Signage to the lounge is not strong but find the escalators and you're nearly there.

To be fair, Honolulu Airport in general needs an upgrade and the Plumeria Lounge reflects this.

The lounge isn’t easy to find, located at the top of an inconspicuous escalator with somewhat dark signage. Largely, the Plumeria Lounge has failed to keep up with the standards of its modern counterparts.

Honolulu's Plumeria Lounge is all in one room.
Honolulu's Plumeria Lounge is all in one room.

More of a large living room than an elite pre-flight hideaway, there is plenty of seating (including a strange area behind a curtain reserved for international business class passengers).

Business class guests can access a dedicated nook with a curtain for extra privacy.
Business class guests can access a dedicated nook with a curtain for extra privacy.

Make sure you have a book or a device, as one television is all you’ll have to amuse yourself otherwise.

As for facilities, it’s basic at best, with just a selection of pastries or fresh melon bites as the most moreish options on an otherwise scant food table. Prior to 10am, you can partake in a single-serve bowl of cereal, with the hot food appearing after this.

Prior to 10am, cereal and fruit are the options on the table.
Prior to 10am, cereal and fruit are the options on the table.

Sadly though, it isn’t much, with noodles, steamed rice and an overcooked marinated chicken dish comprising the whole menu.

Chicken, rice and noodles are the selections for the rest of the day.
Chicken, rice and noodles are the selections for the rest of the day.

Self-serve tea, coffee, beer, wine and fountain soft drink completes the selection.

Flight

Prior to take-off, Hawaiian’s classic Mai Tai is offered to business class travellers. This concoction blends Cruzan rum with coconut, pineapple and lime juice and is a typically strong affair, enjoyed with a piece of fresh pineapple resting on top. 

Travellers settle in for the 10-hour journey to Sydney.
Travellers settle in for the 10-hour journey to Sydney.

Of course, water and orange juice are also available to non-drinkers and those who opt for a smoother alternative. 

Pushing back a little late from the 12:55pm scheduled departure time, we take to the skies around 1:30pm and turn south-west, bound for Sydney. Pilots inform passengers early on that some mild but persistent turbulence is expected. 

The eponymous Hawaiian Airlines mai tai is strong but a tropical classic.
The eponymous Hawaiian Airlines mai tai is strong but a tropical classic.

This indeed rings true, with some at-times uncomfortable bumps well managed by the experienced crew. For others, crew take their seats and service is suspended. However, this never lasts more than a few minutes. That said, travellers are strongly encouraged to remain seated and buckled as much as possible.

Seat

Hawaiian Airlines currently uses a custom seat design, created in conjunction with Italian firm Optimares, although a new business class berth from Adient Aerospace is expected to take off in 2023.

The introduction of this new seat will bring Hawaiian up-to-date with modern business class cabins proffered by the likes of Qantas, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and many others.

At the rear of the cabin is a calming night sky.
At the rear of the cabin is a calming night sky.

For now, the 2-2-2 layout across three rows (making 18 seats in total) makes for a comfortable environment for the 10-hour journey, even if two passengers in each row do not have direct aisle access.

There are 18 lie-flat seats in total on Hawaiian Airlines' A330 aircraft.
There are 18 lie-flat seats in total on Hawaiian Airlines' A330 aircraft.

Seated in 1B, we do have direct aisle access. At foot level there is a sturdy ottoman with a high outer barrier to create separation from the aisle and protection from the legs of other passengers or the meal trolley as both move up the aisle. 

Hawaiian's premium cabin seats are in a 2-2-2 layout.
Hawaiian's premium cabin seats are in a 2-2-2 layout.

Next to this is a small storage space for both flyers to use, containing the safety card and a copy of Hawaiian Airlines’ latest inflight magazine.

The armrest contains the tray table, accessed by pressing until it pops out and extending it into position.

Seats face slightly different directions to ensure travellers aren't placed too close together.
Seats face slightly different directions to ensure travellers aren't placed too close together.

The table fits back into position once finished, covered by the same brown leather upholstery as the rest of the armrest. It makes for a smooth and efficient look.

Each seat contains a full AC power outlet, along with two USB outlets, so you can charge and use your devices as needed.

The safety card and inflight magazine sits in a storage space ahead.
The safety card and inflight magazine sits in a storage space ahead.

Reclining to a lie-flat position occurs via a handy wheel control at hip level. It’s a somewhat strange motion as pushing the wheel forward sends the seat backwards before falling into a 76-inch bed format, which can be stopped at any point to suit your preferred sleeping position.

Conversely, roll the wheel control back and the seat gradually returns to its upright state. Beyond this wheel control and its set degrees of upright, recline and lie-flat, there are no further individual seat adjustment mechanisms or controls available.

A mattress topper can be hooked over the back of the seat when it's time to sleep.
A mattress topper can be hooked over the back of the seat when it's time to sleep.

Each seat is provided with a thin mattress topper to slip over the seat, along with a comfortable blanket, which is very handy as the air conditioning is set very cold.

Guests are also provided with modest amenity kits by Kealopiko, a Moloka‘i-based brand aimed at showcasing traditional Hawaiian culture through its sustainable products.

The Kealopiko amenity kit features a range of sustainably sourced items.
The Kealopiko amenity kit features a range of sustainably sourced items.

Inside, you'll find a bamboo comb, dental kit with toothbrush and paste, earplugs, moisturiser and lip balm, sleep mask, socks and more.

Meal

Cabin crew take our orders prior to take-off, with service coming very soon after.

The menu was designed by Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka, both Executive Chefs at MW Restaurant – a casual Hawaiian restaurant just a few streets back from Ala Moana Boulevard in Waikiki.

Hawaiian Airlines' Executive Chefs, Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka.
Hawaiian Airlines' Executive Chefs, Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka.

Selections on this flight include chicken cordon bleu stuffed with mozzarella cheese and a garlic tomato sauce, served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The alternative is roast pork with steak sauce, braised cabbage and steamed white rice.

Both are served alongside a grilled vegetable salad, a souffle cheesecake dessert from Hawaiian Pie Company and a small plate of Mauna Loa salted macadamias.

Meal orders are taken prior to take-off and arrive once cruising altitude is reached.
Meal orders are taken prior to take-off and arrive once cruising altitude is reached.

The meal is a highlight of the flight and sets us up for a comfortable trip home to Sydney.

Prior to landing, a second meal consisting of cold noodles (deliberately) with minced beef, pickled vegetables and Gochujang sauce is served along with fresh fruit, tea and coffee.

An excellent beverage list accompanies the flight, with several red and white wines and spirits available throughout, along with Heineken for the beer drinkers. More Mai Tais are also available to keep the Hawaiian juices flowing (literally).

Entertainment & Service

Just in front of the nook where your tray table emerges is another curious buttonhole. Press this and out pops a cylindrical arm, which serves as a stand for an iPad Pro. Hawaiian Airlines provides these to business class passengers as inflight entertainment in lieu of no seat-back screen.

The iPad Pro is offered due to there being no seat-back screen.
The iPad Pro is offered due to there being no seat-back screen.

Cabin crew will plug this iPad into one of your in-seat power outlets to ensure no interruptions while you catch an always-evolving roster of both the latest and classic movies and TV shows from the U.S. and around the world.

Unfortunately, the selection isn’t too broad, which might send you back to your book or your own device. For those opting to use it though, the system is fast and screen resolution sharp.

The Verdict

Many travellers boarding HA452 in Honolulu will be sporting a healthy bronzed glow, well and truly relaxed from their holiday under the Hawaiian sun.

Hawaiian paradise will be waiting for you to visit again one day.
Hawaiian paradise will be waiting for you to visit again one day.

This laid-back attitude may justify to some the fairly relaxed approach to the business class travel experience employed by Hawaiian Airlines. For those well versed in the competitive jostling by airlines for a standard-setting travel experience, the lounge and inflight service will fall short of the mark.

Hawaiian’s new business class, due to hit the market in late 2023, will give the airline a massive boost to its premium product, even if it is quite late to the business suite party.

Matt Lennon travelled as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines.

24 Jun 2020

Total posts 33

Can't wait for their new 787 business class product with only 4 seats across as opposed to the 6 shown above.


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