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Flight Review: Extra Comfort on Flight to Hawaii

September 7, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email


Hawaiian Airlines HA 452, Sydney to Honolulu, 16 August 2018. Seat 14A

When it comes to fun destinations, Hawaii is hard to beat. My flight there from Sydney was on Hawaiian Airlines, sitting in an Extra Comfort seat, a premium economy offering located at the front of Hawaiian’s regular economy class.

Extra Comfort Economy seats give about five inches (13cm) more legroom than regular economy. The seat pitch is 36 inches (91.5cm) as opposed to 31 or 32 inches (80cm) in standard economy. You also get priority boarding, personal electronic power outlet and an amenity kit. Extra Comfort costs an extra AUD 165 on top of the cost of a standard economy class seat, so it’s well worth considering. The flight lasts between nine and 10 hours, depending on wind direction and speed.

Hawaiian also gives an incredibly generous luggage allowance: 64kg free checked baggage (2 x bags at 32kg per piece), about double that of many other airlines.

My window seat, 14A, is a little different to most Extra Comfort seats on the plane (an A330-200) as it faces a bulkhead, rather than another seat in front. This means the inflight entertainment screen and meal tray fold out from the armrest rather than being located on the seatback in front.

This makes little difference and the extra space in front makes it easy to get in and out of the seat. The flight to Hawaii is an overnight one so getting cosy makes sense.

Takeoff time is 9.50pm and that is exactly when the plane lifts off, as befits Hawaiian’s punctuality record. Hawaiian has led all US carriers in on-time performance for each of the past 14 years (2004-2017) as reported by the US Department of Transportation. This flight is no exception. Loading the plane at the airport is by zone, which works well and is efficient.

The cabin is smart and well maintained. Service is good, with a light meal rather than a big one because most people have already eaten. The wine comes in a plastic cup, but it’s most palatable and there’s plenty of it. The drinks trolley is well stocked: beer, wine, whisky, vodka – even water.

When I summon the flight attendant to ask for more water, she arrives almost instantly – literally within 10 seconds of pushing the call button. This is incredible – on some airlines you can wait 20 minutes.

Just to be sure, I repeat the call-button test 45 minutes later. Once again, the attendant is there within seconds, asking me courteously what I need. Another red wine is requested and swiftly delivered.

The seat is comfortable. Not a lie-flat seat but the extra pitch and recline makes it easy to relax and it has little winglets to rest the head.

I watch a couple of movies, get quite engrossed in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. The plot seems to have more depth than I realised; maybe the wine is helping.

Later I sample some music on the sound channel and discover Froot, an album by Marina and the Diamonds. Brilliant! How can I not have heard of it before? I find out later it’s the third studio album by Welsh singer and songwriter Marina Diamandis, professionally known as Marina and the Diamonds. It was released in 2015 but somehow I missed it. It’s excellent. I listen to it twice, with a wine or two to help fully appreciate the subtleties and harmonies. Then I fall asleep.

A few hours later I’m awake and approaching Hawaii. There’s something magical about heading into Hawaii. The flight is smooth and has been throughout. Breakfast is served, nothing too fancy but satisfying and the coffee is good.

Coming into Honolulu gives magnificent views of the islands and surf, and some impressive military aircraft parked below including B-52 and delta-winged B2 bombers.

Time to re-set the watch. An extra day has been delivered. We’ve arrived 10 hours before we took off, courtesy of the international dateline. Departing the plane in Honolulu proves just as efficient as boarding in Sydney. A very pleasant flight. Honolulu here I come!

Written by Peter Needham

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