Flight Review: Hawaiian A330-200 in Economy — LAX to Maui

Oct 16, 2015

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En route to the Hawaiian island of Maui (OGG), TPG Intern Mark Kellman flew JetBlue’s Even More Space (premium economy) from JFK-LAX, but because JetBlue doesn’t fly to Hawaii, he flew from LAX-OGG on JetBlue code-share partner Hawaiian Airlines. Here’s his review of the transpacific standard-economy experience aboard Hawaiian’s A330-200, the largest aircraft flown by any carrier on this route.

Booking the Flight

I booked my flight to Maui via JetBlue.com and paid $779.50 for my one-way flight from New York-JFK — Los Angeles (LAX) — Maui (OGG), including a $100 upgrade to Even More Space on the JFK-LAX leg. I charged the total to my Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express in order to earn 3x points on airfare.

My booking from New York-JFK – LAX – Maui (OGG).

Here’s a breakdown of my fare:

One-way ticket: $571.49
Taxes and fees: $48.01
Upgrade to Even More Space on JetBlue (JFK-LAX): $100.00
Two checked bags: $60
Total: $779.50

Though I paid a fair amount for this one-way booking, on major domestic carriers, a one-way economy fare from LAX-OGG usually runs around $250-$300. Unfortunately, if you book this itinerary through JetBlue’s website, you won’t be able to use TrueBlue points for the Hawaiian Airlines leg of your flight, however you may be able to redeem points when you call JetBlue to book. JetBlue now charges for checked bags, but some fare classes include this charge, and TrueBlue Mosaic elites don’t have to pay for their first or second checked bags.

You can use Hawaiian miles if you book this one-way Economy flight from LAX-OGG directly through Hawaiian Airlines, redeeming either 20,000 (Super Saver), 30,000 (Saver) or 40,000 (Flex) miles, depending on availability. Note that a one-way first-class Saver award on this route also requires 40,000 Hawaiian Miles, so if you’re seeing that 40,000-mile Flex redemption in economy, be sure to check First Class Saver availability while you’re at it.

Keep in mind that if you use the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard for this purchase, you’ll earn 2x points for your spend with the airline, as well as a free checked bag, though you’ll also earn bonus points with other cards that offer travel category bonuses, including 3x with Citi Prestige or 2x with Chase Sapphire Preferred.

LAX’s Terminal 2 

My JFK-LAX leg landed at LAX’s Terminal 3, but my connecting flight to Maui left out of LAX’s Terminal 2.

After a long flight from New York, I was finally back on the ground in Los Angeles at LAX’s Terminal 3 — but unfortunately, Hawaiian Airlines flies out of Terminal 2. This meant that I not only had to hoof it to a separate terminal, but I also go through security a second time. Whee! Luckily, my bags were transported for me, so at least I didn’t have to pick them up and re-check them.

Hawaiian Airlines shares LAX’s Terminal 2 with Aeromexico, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic and a few smaller carriers. The terminal itself has been recently remodeled and has a good variety of food options, including Pick Up Stix (a Chinese-American chain) and Starbucks. I arrived mid-afternoon and the terminal was bustling, but I had no problem finding a seat to eat my tasty Built Burger, which was surprisingly not overly expensive for airport food. This was a downright pleasant experience, by layover standards.

Cabin and Seat

I didn't sit in Hawaiian's Extra Comfort (premium economy), but regardless, I was still comfortable in regular Economy on the A330.
I didn’t sit in Hawaiian’s Extra Comfort (premium economy), but I was still comfortable in regular Economy on the A330-200.

I was excited to fly on Hawaiian Airlines for the first time — especially considering that my next stop would essentially be paradise. The 276 seats in the economy cabin on Hawaiian’s A330 are configured in a potentially cramped 2-4-2, but I was actually impressed by the generous amount of space on this wide-body jet.

Each of the 246 Economy seats on this flight has 32 inches of pitch and 18 inches of width, while the 30 Extra Comfort (premium economy) seats have 36 inches of pitch and 18 inches of width. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the extra legroom I enjoyed on JetBlue’s Even More Space during my JFK-LAX leg, but I still managed to be be comfortable on this five-hour-plus flight.

Catering and Amenities

Meal service included pasta with meat sauce, mushrooms and olives along with a side salad and chocolate macadamia nuts.
Meal service included pasta with meat sauce, mushrooms and olives, a side salad and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Hawaiian is the only domestic carrier that still offers complimentary meal service to all passengers. On my flight, I was served a flavorful, hearty penne pasta with beef, mushrooms, olives and cheese, a meager and rubbery side salad (which I opted not to eat) and delicious chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for dessert.

Beverage service with a tropical drink and mixed nuts.
Beverage service with a tropical drink and mixed nuts.

One of my favorite parts of the flight was the beverage service. With the meal, Hawaiian offers complimentary red or white wine for economy passengers, but I didn’t have any because I had my eyes on the tropical juice drinks in the beverage carts. After meal service was completed, flight attendants walked around the cabin every 30 minutes offering water.

This meal and beverage service really sets Hawaiian favorably apart from the competition, as my fellow interns on this trip to Maui seemed to have cramped quarters in economy and felt lucky to get a beverage and/or snack, while I felt quite satisfied, well looked-after and reasonably comfortable.

Hawaiian Airlines seat back entertainment screen
Hawaiian Airlines seatback entertainment screen.

On the A330, Hawaiian offers a variety of complimentary and premium movies and TV shows on demand via seatback touchscreens — a rare feature on most mainland-to-Hawaii flights. I watched two episodes of 24 during and after my meal, and while I noted that the screen wasn’t as large and the touchscreen interface wasn’t as intuitive as those on JetBlue, I enjoyed that fact that at least there was entertainment both available and for no additional charge.

Bottom Line

A smooth landing over the sugarcane fields of Maui. Photo by Melanie Wynne.
A smooth descent over the sugarcane fields of Maui.

I feel that Hawaiian’s wide-body A330-200 jet has one of the best domestic economy products available, with a relatively spacious environment and excellent service. The flight attendants were pleasant and attentive during the efficient meal service, and the pilots shared interesting facts about the island as we approached Maui. The whole experience made me feel excited to arrive in Hawaii — and welcome.

If you’re looking to fly coach from the mainland to Maui, I’d say this carrier is your best option — at least until my favorite carrier, Virgin America, begins service from the West Coast to Maui.

Have you flown Hawaiian Airlines transpacific to Maui? Share your thoughts below.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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