West Coast – Hawaii flights are about 5 hours long. That’s not much shorter than Eastbound flights from the Northeast to nearer Europe. Flights from the East Coast to Hawaii are longer than most Europe flights. And yet while there’s a product war across the Atlantic, trying to provide premium experiences that will attract lucrative business class flyers, premium cabins on Hawaii routes tend to be more modest.
Many Midwest and East Coast – Hawaii flights on United and Delta feature flat seats to be sure, but it’s almost never the airline’s latest product.
That’s because Hawaii is mostly a leisure route. There aren’t deep pocketed companies willing to shell out the premium for business class to Hawaii that there is for flights between, say, New York and London.
Nonetheless, the overall quality of seats from major hubs to the Islands has gone up. When United and Delta have ramped up their game to Hawaii they’ve restricted upgrades, though, treating better product like international.
American on the other hand just did something different with two flights. American’s latest schedule update puts international long haul widebody aircraft on two Hawaii routes, giving customers more premium cabin seats that are truly lie flat, with direct aisle access.
Los Angeles – Honolulu 1 of 6 daily operated by 777-200ER, replacing A321Sharklet
AA143 LAX1500 – 1900HNL 772 D
AA144 HNL2330 – 0706+1LAX 772 D
Phoenix – Honolulu 1 of 2 daily (excluding additional flights on seasonal basis) operated by A330-300, replacing 757
AA692 PHX1205 – 1555HNL 333 D
AA693 HNL2215 – 0709+1PHX 333 D
The Airbus A330 is a legacy US Airways aircraft, but it’s also an impressive plane, US Airways never got enough credit for leading the industry with the fully flat reverse herringbone direct aisle access Zodiac seat that was adopted by Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, and others (including American for its Boeing 777-300ER).
It’s an older version of the seat, in many cases showing wear, but it’s fantastic for flying to and from Hawaii.
Meanwhile the Boeing 777-200 has two different seats, the Zodiac ‘Concept D’ custom American Airlines seat (that American wound up suing Zodiac over their inability to deliver on time) and the better B/E Aerospace. There are also two different configurations of the plane, one that’s higher density. Naturally the higher density plane is going to be on the Hawaii route.
Boeing 777-200 Concept D Seat Business Class
American’s B/E Aerospace Super Diamond Seat, Onboard a Boeing 787-9
There are several interesting things about this:
- These are Hawaii flights from the West, not the longest Hawaii flights
- So it’s about aircraft utilization and adding seat capacity, especially during peak travel periods, not about the product
- There’s no attempt at standardization, in each market it’s one flight with the bigger and better plane not an offering on all flights. That’s another reason you know it’s not a decision driven by product.
- But it means savvy flyers can win out, upgrade chances may be better but in any case upgrades aren’t ‘restricted’
As well, American has added a Dallas-Ft. Worth – Lihue daily flight with a smaller international widebody, a Boeing 767-300ER, that will operate December 15 through January 7 and February 18 through April 2.