In a world of terrible service and prices Hawaiian Airlines stands above the rest.
Whenever possible I fly Hawaiian Airlines. Every now and then I see a slightly lower price for plane tickets and stray away and each time I do I'm disappointed in the other airline. I'm not suggesting Hawaiian Air is perfect, far from it as they have their share of problems and things actually seem to be getting a bit worse lately.
Let's start with the good stuff. Their prices are usually pretty good though often not the cheapest you can find. If you want to save a few extra dollars you can often find a better deal elsewhere (depending on the destination and dates) but they're usually very competitive to the point where it's really just a few dollars either way (and many times are the cheapest).
Price isn't what matters in the end when you fly. You'll want a company that has a good ontime record and Hawaiian Airlines has that. I've used them countless times now and only had one delay with a flight leaving the mainland for Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) which left us stranded in the airport for several hours. Every other flight has either been on time or within minutes (plus or minus 15 minutes isn't an issue in my book).
More important than all of this are the people and Hawaiian Air has some excellent people. Everyone from the reservations people to the employees at the gate to the excellent flight crews seem to be happier and just more pleasant than the staff of any other airline I've been on. This often makes all the difference in the world. This doesn't mean they're all great all the time, they're still people and you'll get out of them what you give to them, but they are by far the best.
On the flip side, they do lack in a few areas. Like every airline on the planet, the boarding process is a complete mess. Let's get our first class people on, and then 38 different levels of miles club members, then families with small kids, then seniors, then those with a lazy eye, then anyone who enjoys the color blue, then anyone who needs extra time boarding, and then row 40, now row 38-39, and so on.
Yea, I know, I'm exaggerating a bit. But it's an insane boarding process and the second it starts everyone, and I mean everyone, crowds the boarding area (even though the staff tell them not to) so nobody can get through. It's a hot mess every-single-time.
What have they done to correct this? Changed the boarding time from 30 minutes to 50 minutes which gives us all another 20 minutes to board in frustration. Why they don't visit a Disney park and see how queues work is beyond me. I mean, create a queue and have it start in a place that opens to the main hall of the terminal. Problem solved. When people come off queue them out into the hall of the terminal rather than through the maze of seats like roaches after the lights were turned on. Another problem solved.
They claim to be the only airline that offers complimentary meals (at least in the USA I guess). That's great but the meals are often awful. They no longer offer premium meals so when you're hand some nasty mess of a meal that's all you get. On top of that, they serve it right away. Didn't we all grab a bite at the airport 15 minutes ago? How about we wait a bit so we can better space things out on this 6+ hour flight. Don't worry, the food's been on warmers for hours already so 2 more won't matter.
But seriously, can't we get better food? Something that caters to the average person a bit more. On my last morning flight it was really good (fresh fruit, cheese, and crackers) but on most it's a mess of egg burrito or some mystery meat sandwich. Blah. I see countless people not eating the food they get so what good is a free meal if so many people won't eat it?
For entertainment you can rent a Digi Player (which is now an iPad Mini) with movies, shows, and games on it but the movies are usually pretty bad as are most of the TV Shows. On the big screen you can expect whatever the worst semi-current movie imaginable is follow by an episode or two of Glee. Not sure what their fascination is with Glee but it's hard to imagine a worse show in my opinion and it's somehow on every flight to or from the mainland and has been for years now.
Bottom line? Best airline around but that's not hard to do when you really look at how bad airlines are these days. You'll still get the same uncomfortable seats with no leg room as any other airline but at least the staff will treat you right. Eat before you board or bag a lunch or go on a diet when you board to avoid the trash they expect you to eat. Pack your own movies, shows, and games to entertain yourself or plan to be bored with the options they'll give or sell you. If you want a real treat, go firstclass as they do it better than anyone else that flies from the mainland to Hawaii.
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