Hawaiian Airlines will begin flying its lie-flat Premium Cabin seats in June, with US West Coast destinations first to see and sample the Airbus A330 business class seats on a 'surprise-and-delight' basis (meaning the airline isn't going to lock down initial routes until a few months down the track).
More A330s will be upgraded as the months roll by, with the 23-strong fleet refit due by "early 2018".
The 18 Poltrona Frau leather-clad seats convert into 20.5 inch-wide beds, although the 2-2-2 layout will make the middle seats preferred for direct access to the aisle and no seatmate stepping over you.
A design feature of the Premium Cabin itself is a fibre-optic lighting representation of the Pleiades or Seven Sisters constellation – known to Hawaiian islanders as Makali'i – which the airlines says was "instrumental in guiding early Polynesian explorers on their Pacific journeys."
Each set has its own AC power socket plus two USB ports for directly recharging your smartphone, tablet or ebook reader, with tablets serve up the inflight video.
Hawaiian Airlines flies from Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland to Honolulu with onwards non-stop connections to major US cities including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Las Vegas and Seattle.
PREVIOUS | Hawaiian Airlines will upgrade its Airbus A330 business class to fully lie-flat seats, replacing the current crop of recliners with an all-new design.
The seats will make their debut by mid-2016 and be fitted across the airline's 23-strong A330 fleet by the end of 2017.
Hawaiian's move will not only boost the premium experience on Sydney-Honolulu and Brisbane-Honolulu flights but also close the gap against Qantas, which will offer its new A330 Business Suites on Sydney-Honolulu flights before the end of next year.
(Jetstar's competing Boeing 787 business class offers recliner-style seats set in a 2-3-2 layout).
Arranged in a 2-2-2 layout, the new seats will fold into 76-inch beds and rely on large-screen tablets for inflight entertainment.
Those tablets will be fitted with a telescoping adjustable arm, allowing passengers to position the tablet for optimum viewing.
"This new service is going to underscore our mission to be the premiere destination carrier and it's going to take our signature in-flight hospitality to an entire new level" promised Hawaiian Airlines' CEO Mark Dunkerley.
The new seats were developed in partnership with Italian manufacturer Optimares and US design and branding agency PaulWylde.
Dunkerley praised the seat as "a truly bespoke design that delivers world-class comfort and style, while staying true to our island roots."
"Whether traveling for business, with family or on a romantic retreat, the new premium cabin evokes an engaging bold, contemporary sense of Hawai'i, complemented by the warm aloha spirit of our cabin crew."
The new-look A330 business class cabin also reflects its Hawaiian heritage with "flowing curves evocative of the winds and ocean, while marrying organic textures, pops of bright saturated colour, and luxury materials like leather from Poltrona Frau".
The A330's business class cabin will remain at 18 seats, however Hawaiian Airlines will also boost the size of its 'economy comfort' cabin from 40 seats to 68, reflecting the increased demand for that category.
Hawaiian's economy comfort seats offer 36 inch pitch compared to 31 inches in standard economy, along with an AC power socket, free inflight entertainment and priority boarding.
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