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Hipa Hipa for Hawaiian Airlines’ excellent 787-9 product Runway Girl

Vaseline 2 months ago

Cartoon of passengers, stewardess and pilots on board an airplaneThe long wait at Hawaiian Airlines is over: the airline finally launched revenue service with the Boeing 787-9 twinjet on April 16.

With the promise of a beautiful new cabin, both front and rear, we knew we had to try out this Dreamliner as soon as it came out.

The airline provided Runway Girl Network with tickets in the cabin called Leihōkū – meaning “lei of stars,” the newest class of premium travel – from San Francisco to Honolulu. It also offered round-trip travel to Seattle in economy class. Our opinion of course remains our own.

But spoiler alert: It’s not hard to write an excellent review when everything is, well, excellent.

The adventure started at the airline’s first-class check-in counter at SFO. There was no line and a single agent got me on my way to Terminal 1 in no time.

Hawaiian aircraft parked at SFOBoarding started on time and I made my way to the plane in Zone 1. First impressions are powerful: tropical mood lighting, an overhead floral pattern of a native island plant and wood paneling that mimics the ribs of the iconic outrigger canoe create an immediate impression. mood.

Looking at the Hawaiian Dreamliner through business class.As I walked down the aisle of this premium cabin, I saw the starlights on the ceiling for the first time. I’ve seen nice additions like this on other airlines, but Hawaiian adds another layer. The stars are meant to evoke the ancient seafaring Polynesians, who would have used the stars to guide them on their journeys.

Purple LED lighting above the luggage bins.  Small 'star' lights are visible.

I settled into my suite, 9J, and immediately dove into what it had to offer.

The Ascent Business Class seat in the new Boeing Dreamliner faces the window.  This is an overhead view of the chair in dark, rich brown with aqua/blue accent around the edge of the seating platform.Hawaiian chose the Adient Aerospace Ascent suite. There are 34 in the cabin, arranged in an industry standard 1-2-1 mixed herringbone configuration. Each chair has a pitch of 77 inches, a width of 21 inches and can be placed completely flat.

The business class IFE screen shows a mountain scene.  A passenger's feet can be seen in the footwell.

It’s comfortable, although the footwell can be a bit tight. I took a quick power nap during the flight with the pillow and blanket.

Looking at the IFE screen from the seated passenger's point of view.  The door to the suite is closed, creating a very private space.Window seats face the windows, while inside seats face the aisle.

Close-up of the suite door.Each seat has a privacy door, which felt a bit gimmicky at first, but grew in importance as the flight went on.

A close-up of the door attachment.

Interior pairs have privacy screens that can be raised at any time, but only lowered if the people in both seats press the button at the same time.

Seat control with display of the different positions, including lying surface.Each suite has an exceptionally bright 18-inch IFE screen, a large swivel pull-out tray, a small storage compartment for headphones, a make-up mirror and a sconce lamp. There are three charging methods: a Qi wireless surface, USB-A and a universal port. The airline says there is a USB-C port, but I couldn’t find it.

A close-up of the power supply in the chair, both AC and USB-A.

A small workspace is cleverly divided, giving drinks their own dedicated mini shelf.

A small workspace is cleverly divided, giving drinks their own dedicated mini shelf.

The color palette of the cabin contains many shades of brown and blue. The color of Hawaii’s volcanic soil is reflected in the seat upholstery, while the carpets have ocean blue tones.

Most of the rest of the heavy lifting, color-wise, is done by the LED lighting.

A Hawaiian-themed LED lighting display in the aircraft's ceiling.  Bright purples, blues and some pink cast a beautiful glow around a Polynesian design.

Pre-departure drinks started the service, with a choice between water, guava juice and of course Mai Tai cocktails.

A passenger holds up a drink in front of the IFE screen with a woman on the screen.

An in-seat “first class meal” menu included detailed information about the two brunch options for the flight, as well as an above-average drinks list. The cocktail menu in particular was promising and I submitted a request for it after departure.

An image of Hawaiian Airlines' first-class meal menu

The service started not long after takeoff, with the tropical cocktail and a plate of delicious macadamia nuts as a starter.

Brunch appeared not long after. My first choice, an omelet, was long gone. But the pancakes held up just fine. The fresh fruit was the highlight.

The whole affair lasted 90 minutes, after which I switched to a steady stream of guava juice for the rest of the flight.

A display of pancakes, fruit and other items for in-flight brunch.

The onboard entertainment, a Panasonic Avionics system, is great. It can be controlled via touch or a small, tethered remote control.

A remote control is stored and used to operate the seats' IFE system.

Hawaiian has an average selection of content with ’60s movies and a similar number of TV shows. Some TV shows have a few episodes each, while others are full seasons.

A close-up of the Panasonic IFE screen and some of the content selections on offer.The crew was very pleasant and proactive without being ubiquitous. They also offered me a value meal to complement the brunch option as my first option was already out. I would love to fly with them every day.

There is no Wi-Fi on board, although Hawaiian plans to eventually equip the plane with Starlink. In my opinion this is the only major problem with the jet.

We landed in Honolulu on time and I was sad to have to get off.

Close-up of the 787 engine from the window.For now, the aircraft will largely focus on short-haul routes along the West Coast, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix. I imagine it will eventually serve the airline’s longer routes, such as Boston, Seoul and Sydney, but no commitments have been made yet.


If you’ve flown long distances to Hawaii before, this is a huge upgrade over the airline’s existing 2-2-2 Airbus A330 premium cabin. And it ultimately puts them in a competitive position against their rivals, regardless of the route they are on.

Anyone can launch a new plane with a crushingly hard product and a decent meal. What puts Hawaii over the top, though, are all those built-in cultural traits. I’ve already noticed a few, but there are proverbial Easter eggs hidden throughout the plane: patterned inlays on the armrests of every economy cabin, native floral motifs on every lavatory wall, and figures in native Hawaiian clothing.

Also consider the entrance. the carrier could have put a Hawaiian logo on the wall and called it good. But that extra step of adding the stamp-inspired wood paneling, something uniquely Hawaiian, immediately sets a compelling tone.

The whole of the experience is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Hawaiian’s new Leihōkū product is an unforgettable experience for all the right reasons.

There is a flower arrangement at the entrance of the Hawaiian Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner.  ribbed wood paneling arches the entranceway.Related articles:

All images credited to the author, Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren