Did Hawaiian Airlines Get Leapfrogged By This Announcement?

Did Hawaiian Airlines Just Get Leapfrogged By This Announcement?

With yesterday’s airline news, we’re left wondering if a switch-up could lie ahead for one of Hawaiian Airlines’ biggest plans. Here’s why.

While this may seem only distantly related, that’s not the case. Doha-based Qatar Airways just became the largest and latest airline to announce wide-scale deployment of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite WiFi.

What’s significant here is that Hawaiian has been due to be Starlink’s next major airline deployment.

Could Qatar pass over the long-awaited Hawaiian Airlines WiFi?

Many regular flyers have been waiting nearly a decade for Hawaiian Airlines still just over the horizon WiFi. Starlink is poised to offer ubiquitous free WiFi access and gate-to-gate connectivity with video streaming speeds of up to 350 Mbps.

That service will also come to some or all of the far larger Qatar fleet. We’re waiting anxiously to see if Hawaiian actually gets this moving first and can remain ahead of Qatar.

In 2022, Hawaiian first tested Starlink WiFi, successfully delivering YouTube, Netflix, and video chat capabilities over the Pacific Ocean. When implemented, Hawaiian will offer WiFi at no cost for all passengers on their A321, A330 planes, and upcoming Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Hawaiian said it won’t equip its interisland fleet with WiFi.

Other airlines’ Hawaii WiFi has left us wanting.

When an airline promises WiFi, it must meet passengers’ expectations, especially on long flights across the Pacific. WiFi is similar to electricity or other utilities and is now a part of the “implied carriage agreement” between airlines and their passengers.

We have recently been disappointed with Delta Air Lines WiFi and United Airlines WiFi. These airlines don’t consistently offer the service to Hawaii, even when they say that they do. At other times, it works fine. In total, it is maddening never to know what to expect.

See Wi-Fi Blues Strike Hawaii Flights On All Airlines.

Qatar has not confirmed which of its planes or routes will receive the Starlink satellite WiFi or when that might happen. We’re wondering if Qatar’s somewhat strange and incomplete announcement even relates somehow plans for Hawaiian Airlines to be the next Starlink customer.

Qatar Airways Is handily 5x the size of Hawaiian Airlines.

The point here is that if Hawaiian doesn’t move quickly, and Qatar does, we would not be surprised to see Starlink first arrive in Doha instead of in Honolulu. That remains to be seen. Qatar has a fleet of 250+ planes, while Hawaiian has 61 planes.

As is true with Hawaiian’s announcement, Qatar just said it is “proud to announce its agreement with Starlink to provide seamless and complimentary WiFi to its global passengers. This exciting collaboration is not only in line with our industry-leading approach to technological adoption but also serves as an unmissable opportunity to connect Starlink to our global passengers.”

Qatar further promises “simple one-click access,” a point about which Hawaiian hasn’t commented.

Qatar is the latest but isn’t the only other airline using or interested in deploying Starlink. Earlier this year, charter carrier JSX, which we just wrote about, became the first. Delta has also done testing with Starlink, and we would not be surprised to see them come on board at some point, perhaps following one of these other significant deployments.

Last update we received from Hawaiian Airlines.

Earlier this year, we talked with Avi Mannis, Hawaiian’s senior VP and chief marketing and communications officer. He told us that Starlink WiFi is currently being certified and indicated that it is a tedious process. We aren’t clear on why, given that Hawaii is no longer the launch partner for the product. He advised that WiFi won’t be available until sometime next year. Also, the new Dreamliner will not be the first to get WiFi, he said, since that has to be installed post delivery from Boeing.

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13 thoughts on “Did Hawaiian Airlines Just Get Leapfrogged By This Announcement?”

  1. Given that ‘polynesian paralysis’ is a real thing, I’d venture that Lahaina will be rebuilt before Hawaiian gets reliable WiFi.

  2. WOW. Don’t like the WiFI service ?? No WiFi available on your flight ??

    **Gasp **

    After spending over 30K hours in the air (I’m O-L-D) as a pilot; both commercial and military … and many as a passenger going from Point A to Point B … here’s a couple of suggestions that might take the pain off the “struggle” for a good airborne WiFi connection:

    1. Read — it’s especially easy now that you have electronic “books”

    2. Sleep — if you’re going east/west you’re gonna’ need it at some point … read: jet-lag.


  3. I don’t fly HA based on whether it has WIFI or not. Frankly, I couldn’t care less. HA gives you more than enough entertainment on their planes already.
    People are so insane today that they think WIFI is the end all for a long flight.
    Get a life and enjoy the flight. Read a book or watch a movie.
    Put the Phone or Pad away and return to the real world.
    Just so disgusted watching people connected to their phones as if it was part of their body members.
    I love HA and will not be affected at all whether they get WIFI now or 10 years from now.
    Aloha from Maui…

    1. Same with me. I moved to Maui to have a life! I rather swim in the ocean than looking at it and look forward to meeting my friends.

  4. its to back one can not get through a flight without being connected. I still carry a real hardback book and magazines or download to my ipad and dont need wifi for 13 hours.

  5. This is not a simple matter of an “agreement”. As far as I know, HA already has an agreement in place with Starlink. Last year I was told by one of the HA flight crews that one of the reasons for the delay is that all these crafts need to be retrofitted for Wi-Fi which is time consuming to say the least. It’s not just as simple as clicking on a Wi-Fi icon in your phone. Knowing how everything in Hawai’i moves at a snail’s pace, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    1. Hi Keoki.

      I’ve seen guesstimates of it taking a small group of mechanics less than one week per A330 plane. Maybe someone can confirm if that’s in the ballpark.

  6. WI-FI video chat is going to be a huge problem because there are very few passengers who will enjoy having to listen to some random persons chat. It’ll cause a lot of trouble at 35,000 feet.

  7. oh no …video chat capabilities over the Pacific Ocean! I will fly Hawaiian if they don’t offer that service! I would rather go back to the old days, having a big screen for everyone to see, showing Hawaiian culture.

    1. Unless one is an addict to wifi, who needs it over the Pacific Ocean for six hours from Vegas to Honolulu? Airline need to concentrate on in flight airline comfort. Are we using your phones or is our phones using us?
      Give me some Hawaiian culture/music videos instead. Take a break
      from the “rat race” communications world and relax!

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