Four Hawaii Airlines On Premium Stampede Leaving Economy On Wing

Changes in the air over Hawaii are palpable. There’s no getting around it; almost everything about Hawaii travel changes from here on out. American, Delta, Hawaiian, and United are poised to match the State of Hawaii’s new “Premium” focus. And it is getting more interesting.

As everything about Hawaii screams premium now (the price of rental cars, activities, hotels, taxes, and fees have skyrocketed and then some), the airlines are paying close attention and are reacting accordingly. We say this without judgment; it is just what is happening. This comes in the form of new planes, for starters, to match the demands of premium travelers.

This includes the Dreamliners’ business class “cabana suites” at Hawaiian Airlines. Also, the Airbus A321xlr at American and United Airlines with the first-time ever 2×2 premium economy seating in a narrow body plane. And nice new narrow-body’s with best in class business from Delta. It is a definite sweet spot fit for premium Hawaii visitors.

For those who want yet more premium, lie-flat business class seats on narrow-body planes to Hawaii will soon be offered for the first time by American and United. Delta joins the competition on narrow-body Hawaii flights with best-in-class, non-lie flat business class seats.

“On the wing” travelers marginalized.

For those of us who travel in economy class, there is little to nothing on the horizon. There will be no additional legroom; in fact, there could even be less.

Somewhere down the line, perhaps there may be something positive like rent-by-the-hour Air New Zealand style sky nests. Those could come to future Boeing 787 Dreamliners. These are single bunk beds for up to six people that can be reserved by the hour.

And, of course, there is still the premium cost of extended legroom seating, where no frill except intact legs on arrival, can cost you up to $200 a person one-way.

BOH editor Rob was just reminded of the Skyrider concept stand-up economy class seating , as seen below.


Delta’s unique plan to upscale Hawaii routes.

Delta is betting Hawaii will be a big winner for them in the future. They’re not alone in that thinking, and the airlines are all making exciting moves. Delta already scores big with at least 9 widebody Hawaii routes that include premium service and their highly-regarded Delta One closed-door, lie-flat business class.

Those routes include Atlanta to Honolulu. Detroit to Honolulu on Airbus A350. Also, Los Angeles to Honolulu, Minneapolis to Honolulu, New York to Honolulu, Salt Lake City to Honolulu, and Seattle to Honolulu on Boeing 767. And Atlanta to Maui and Seattle to Maui on A330.

Delta is upgrading all of these widebody routes to include their Premium Select true premium economy product, an excellent offering well-positioned in product and cost between economy and business.

Hawaiian scores big with widebody flights and new premium aircraft.

Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliner Cabana Suite

In total, Hawaiian already serves up well-regarded widebody flights to Hawaii from Austin, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle. These feature a lie-flat business class and an extended legroom offering, although there’s no premium economy.

Hawaiian’s upscaling isn’t close to done yet. They’re still looking to begin deliveries of their much upgraded Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet this year, of which they have 12 on firm order. While still not offering the in-between premium economy product, these will feature grand new lie-flat suites, including double “cabana” style accommodations.

American and United are on a Hawaii premium tear too.

American Airlines Flagship Hawaii
American Airlines widebody flagship Hawaii

Look for the most premium service on American’s Boeing 777  flagship service between Dallas, Maui, and Honolulu.

On United, some widebody flights feature the highly desirable United Polaris lie-flat business product and their Premium Plus true premium economy.

United’s widebody flights to Hawaii are from Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. We noted recently that United is still looking for the sweet spots in Hawaii flights, as they pruned their Washington to Honolulu flight back to once weekly.

Narrow-body Hawaii fleet upgrades are also arriving.

Last year, Delta introduced its A321neo fleet, now flying on multiple routes to Hawaii. Delta came late to that party, which started with Hawaiian Airlines’ inaugural A321neo flight in January 2018.

While Delta, like Hawaiian, has continued to offer only 3×3 economy and 2×2 business/first, Delta seems to have taken a more premium approach with highly rated new business seating and other amenities.

BOH Delta Hawaii A321neo flight reviews are upcoming.

Beat of Hawaii hasn’t flown Delta to and from Hawaii for some time, but that’s about to change. We will review the Delta A321 flights to Hawaii in business/first class and economy. Look for those reports coming soon.

American and United await Airbus A321xlr with ultra-premium.

A.A. Collins Aerospace narrow-body interior.

A new narrow-body plane, the Airbus A321XLR, will make new routes to Hawaii possible and include previously unavailable options. Those planes are capable of flights from the east coast to Hawaii. American Airlines and United Airlines are the plane’s first and second launch partners, which is a perfect fit for Hawaii.

American plans to take delivery of the first plane next year, with in-service to follow. United will take delivery starting the following year. That means we’ll see these planes on Hawaii routes shortly. This new plane is well suited to the Hawaii premium mold. It features lie-flat business class with aisle access, a true premium economy in a 2×2 configuration (which will be extremely popular to Hawaii), and a 3×3 economy.

American Airlines alone is set to receive 50 of these aircraft in the next 36 months. Not to be left out, United is planning on a brand new Polaris lie-flat business pod for the aircraft type. It will also be the first time UAL will bring its premium economy to narrow-body aircraft.

The A321XLR can fly 4.7k nautical miles, opening up countless Hawaii flight possibilities. The A321neo, currently used by American, Delta, and Hawaiian, in comparison, has a range of about 4k nautical miles.

While AA might use the new planes from Dallas, Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago, UAL may fly them from Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark, and DC instead.

Which airline and service are you most excited about, if any? Or are you on the wing with BOH editor Collin?


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26 thoughts on “Four Hawaii Airlines On Premium Stampede Leaving Economy On Wing”

  1. Alaska Airlines wasn’t mentioned in this article. We used to always fly Hawaiian, but now we love flying Alaska and use the $100 companion fare every year. We still have credit cards for both airlines just in case.

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