ANA Brings Hilton’s Hawaii Meals to Flights and Lounges. The Major US Airlines Could Learn a Thing or Two.

I love co-brand marketing deals. I have tons of airline and miles and points-related ‘toys’ at home (despite my best efforts to give away all my worldly possessions at frequent flyer events).

I have things like the Playmobil TSA play set.

I also have a Grimace and a Ronald McDonald flying United planes from the partnership that brought Happy Meals to economy on Orlando flights back in the early 90s (new galley carts had to be installed to keep the meat and cheese hot and the bun, lettuce and tomato cool while serving).

I look at United… and McDonald’s in my office, every day.

Marketing partnerships fund all sorts of lucrative things that can benefit customers. Air passengers are a valuable demographic, and companies want to market to them. Those marketing tie-ins can mean better food on planes and in lounges. And they can mean better promotions — for instance the gold standard hotel promotion Hyatt used to run, Faster Free Nights, required payment of stays with a MasterCard back in the day.

It’s with this in mind that I was interested in ANA’s new marketing tie-in with Hilton.

Hilton announced a global partnership with Japan’s biggest airline, ANA, that will last until 2017. Through the partnership, both brands will roll out cutting-edge airline lounges and in-flight services. Here are the details on what this partnership means:

  • The initial phase of this alliance will run between June 1 and August 31, 2015 and is designed for both Japanese and international travelers to “Experience More” of the renowned Hilton hospitality when they next travel through the ANA Haneda or Narita lounges or embark on a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu.
  • Travelers can “Experience More” and look forward to enriched travel experiences including:
    • Lounge Experience:        
      • Lounge menu offerings created by chefs at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort promise an authentic taste of Hawaii
      • Guests can view a destination video on Hawaii, which will be played on the TV screens in the lounges
    • ​ In-Flight Experience
      • Hawaiian-inspired menus exclusively designed by chefs at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort (for travelers in economy and business class)
      • A 30-minute Hawaii destination video
      • A copy of a mini guidebook which was specially-commissioned for this partnership, featuring recommendations for sightseeing and food, as well as an introduction to Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

ANA gets meals in both economy and business class meal for Honolulu – Japan inspired by Hilton Hawaiian Village.

And meals in economy and business the other direction, Japan – Honolulu, from Hilton Hawaiian Village as well.

Frankly they look pretty good — though much credit here certainly belongs to ANA which has one of the better catering operations in the sky.

ANA business class lounges at Tokyo Narita and Haneda get branded food items also.

It makes sense for Hilton to promote their Hawaii offerings on ANA’s flights, the largest Japanese airline is bringing a lot of tourists to the islands. Tokyo and Dallas are equidistant from Honolulu.

Here a marketing partnership that makes sense for ANA (revenue) and Hilton (customer attention) can also make sense for passengers.

I’d love to see more of this from US carriers, funding improvements beyond the modest uptick in lounge food we’ve seen this year from Delta, United, and American. Marriott could leverage their United partnership by catering United Clubs. Delta could bring their Danny Meyer partnership into SkyClubs if it could be structured to promote Meyers’ restaurant group at their expense, rather than Delta paying licensing fees to Meyer.

United used to do (Polynesia-themed restaurant) Trader Vic’s meals on Hawaii flights. They’re bringing back the ghost of Charlie Trotter of course, but that’s more about United buying the name than bringing in revenue in a way that improves product.

The charge then for marketing executives is to find the win-win that benefits customers too, you get the buzz and attraction of a better product while funding it with the attention of your customers. Just do what ANA and Hilton have done here (the concept, of course though the food looks good I haven’t tasted it yet).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We do seem to be (finally!) in an uptrend on airline catering for the US airlines. Undoubtedly, this is tied to consolidation and profitability. As I think customer-friendly amenities would help boost the dismal reputations of the US airlines — many people seem to have an almost unnatural hatred of them — I think we might see some catering tie-ins like this ANA deal. Let’s hope!

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