Honolulu Airport (Daniel Inouye)
- Convenient location near central security and the terminal shuttle
- Fast WiFi, even when the lounge is at capacity
- Limited beverages and hot food
- Gets very busy before flights to Australia, NZ
- No access for Velocity members
- Priority Pass access when flying any airline, including competitors like Qantas
With two Hawaiian Airlines lounges at Honolulu Airport, The Plumeria Lounge is Hawaiian's flagship: welcoming business class passengers on international flights, including those bound for Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security at Terminal 1, make an immediate right turn. Follow the signage and take the escalator upstairs.
You'll spot the entrance ahead, in the same area as the 'Wiki Wiki Shuttle' boarding point: convenient when taking a US mainland or international flight, as it's not far to walk when you leave the lounge.
The Plumeria Lounge is relatively small, but facilities are still divided between dining and relaxing. Honolulu being primarily a leisure destination, there's no business centre, although power points are scattered throughout the lounge: particularly in the dining area.
The Plumeria Lounge opens daily from 6am until 9:30pm, and can get particularly busy throughout the day – during which time, there may be a queue to enter and cards like Priority Pass may not be accepted.
On our most recent visit during a peak window, the hosts were excellent at making sure each seat was put to use so that as many passengers as possible could visit the lounge, to avoid turning people away.
- Hawaiian Airlines' business class guests departing on an international flight. There's no access for business/first class on any domestic routes, including the nine-hour trek to New York JFK.
- Priority Pass and LoungeKey members departing on any domestic or international flight, operated by any airline (including Qantas).
- Paying guests travelling on any domestic or international Hawaiian Airlines flight who purchase a single entry for US$40 (A$60). This is reduced to US$35 (A$53) for Hawaiian Airlines' Pualani Gold members, and US$30 (A$45) for Pualani Platinum cardholders.
Take note that Hawaiian Airlines' domestic 'first class' (business class) passengers don't receive complimentary access to this lounge, and nor do Pualani Gold or Platinum members, regardless of flight destination.
Instead, these travellers could access the space by using Priority Pass, LoungeKey or purchasing an entry pass, or can otherwise visit the separate Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club in Honolulu – located in the same terminal – but which doesn't serve food.
Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers instead have access to Honolulu's Delta Sky Club when travelling with Hawaiian Airlines on a VA flight number (no lounge is provided on an HA code), or with Delta on a DL or VA flight number.
With the dining options at Honolulu Airport rather dire – and the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club in the same terminal serving no food at all, aside from one type of packaged nibbles – the Premier Club's main appeal is its food and beverage.
That starts with a Honolulu Cookie Company snack given when you arrive: a popular treat in Hawaii, but you unfortunately won't find more at the buffet.
You can instead expect to find other packaged snacks like chips, chocolate and bars, served aside healthier options including celery, carrots and olives, with hummus, cheese and a ranch dressing which you can repurpose as a dip.
More substantial bites include a daily soup, and various croissants.
For something more typically local, don't overlook the taro sweet bread rolls (purple bread), for which a second helping was required.
Instant noodle bowls can also be found among the beverages, including teas, red and white wine.
Rounding out the list, soft drinks, chilled water, juices, and coffee, with a choice of filtered or machine-made espresso.
As a 'local' break from a typical latte, the vanilla and macadamia-infused filtered coffee was quite acceptable when mixed with creamer, although the amount of waste produced per cup was disappointing given the absence of ceramic mugs and reliance on single-use plastic.
The dining area itself is close to the buffet, and during peak times, staff at reception show passengers to individual seats and tables to help maximise space.
It's fair to say that your dining options here aren't 'outstanding' by any stretch – particularly for a flagship international business class lounge – but they're still preferable to what's served at most outlets in the terminal, and will at least tide you over until your flight departs.
You'll find US-style power points near some – but not all – of the seats, paired with USB charging ports, which may or may not be accessible at the same time, depending on the size and shape of your charger.
As for WiFi, once you've found the network name, username and password (indicated on signs throughout the space), the speeds are swift even at peak times, with tests revealing average download speeds of 33Mbps and average uploads of 58Mbps when the lounge was full.
Given the typically long lines at check-in and security in Honolulu – as well as needing to take a shuttle to the gates normally used by international departing flights – chances are, you'll get about an hour in this lounge.
(And that's if the staff manning the 'priority' screening line haven't directed you to the back of the lengthy economy queue despite being eligible for fast-track screening, as we've oddly now experienced several times...)
In any case, a brief visit provides for a quick bite and a skim of your email inbox, along with the obligatory social media check-in: however, some facilities you might expect of a flagship international lounge, such as showers, aren't available here.
All things considered, The Plumeria Lounge is far from a standout, and compared against other flagship international business class lounges at airlines' home hubs, it doesn't rank highly.
In essence, it's enough for most travellers making a brief pit-stop, but more seating, a broader variety of hot food, a wider supply of both beverages and power points, and the installation of pre-flight shower facilities would all be welcome improvements for business travellers.
Chris Chamberlin travelled at his own expense using frequent flyer points.