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Hawaiian Air Evolution: Economy + Extra Comfort Take New Flight Paths

A fascinating marketing pivot is occurring at Hawaii’s bellwether airline that includes the first-ever amenity kit for economy passengers. Last month, we first reported that Hawaiian would unveil amenity kits for all passengers, and now we have more details to share about that. But in the bigger picture, Hawaiian is moving to define a stronger brand, and create more value for its customers.

More features and differentiation between Economy and Extra Comfort.

Ever since Hawaiian Airlines introduced Extra Comfort extended legroom to its product offerings a decade ago, the differences between that and their economy product have been rather minimal other than extra legroom. Before these latest changes, what set Extra Comfort and economy apart were the following:

  • Up to five extra inches of legroom (and even more on certain seats). See our Extra Comfort review for details.
  • Priority screening (at airports where available).
  • Early boarding by priority boarding group.
  • A/C power outlet.

Hawaiian Airlines has no plans for premium economy.

In the realm of today’s luxury-focused travel to Hawaii, true premium economy class stands out as very important in the airline industry. United Airlines is one of the players with a big role in shaping this narrative. In one year’s time they will introduce Airbus A321 planes with a true, dedicated premium economy cabin.

Airlines that currently offer true premium economy on select flights to Hawaii include American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines. We have long-wondered if Hawaiian Airlines would join the list.

It’s essential to clarify the term “premium economy” because it goes beyond offerings like Hawaiian Extra Comfort, or United Economy Plus, both of which provide extra legroom within the same economy cabin using the same seats as economy. True premium economy is instead an entirely distinct product with a separate cabin, positioned between economy and business/first class.

Premium economy comes with a range of amenities, including wider seats, leg rests, a different seating configuration, more attentive service, chef-inspired meals, amenity kits, and more. This product between economy and business class, is increasingly seen as a near-perfect solution for medium-range flights to and from Hawaii, providing significant financial benefits for airlines, and substantially more comfort for passengers without the cost of lie-flat business seats.

We have long called for added features in high cost Extra Comfort.

It appears Hawaiian will continue to bet on their Extra Comfort product instead of caving to the industry’s premium economy focus. Given that, Hawaiian’s amenity kits might be seen as an early move to help bolster this product.

Adding amenities to Extra Comfort, such as additional recline (United does that with Economy Plus), a better snack, meal, drink, free baggage, etc., would be game-changing, especially since the cost of Extra Comfort has become so steep. When editor Jeff flew Extra Comfort last year, he paid an additional $142 each way, plus the cost of the economy ticket. Since Jeff flew, Extra Comfort can now cost as much as $278 each way, plus the economy ticket cost.

Hawaiian’s First-ever economy amenity kits.

In a first-time move, Hawaiian Airlines also introduces amenity kits for economy class passengers. Travelers in the main cabin on specific routes all receive these new kits, marking a significant shift in providing amenity kits to all passengers, an unprecedented move within the airline industry.

It isn’t clear what is included in the economy amenity kit as it’s not pictured, and in fact, based on the image, we’re not sure if calling it an amenity kit may be somewhat of a stretch.

Extra Comfort features a clearly upgraded, entirely different amenity product.

The products include a dental kit with a toothbrush (now wooden) and toothpaste, skin cream, chap stick, ear plugs, headset, and tissues.

Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort Amenity Kit

These products are carbon neutral certified.

The sustainable materials used include a bag made with recycled plastic canvas as well as a bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic, toothpaste in a recycled aluminum tube rather than plastic, FSC-certified kraft paper, and a wheat straw pen. Other items, too, are made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, complementing the overall product offering. That is according to the manufacturer.

The kits are from Hong Kong-based FORMIA, which says, “Our designs are for every class, suit any budget, and incorporate the airlines’ own branding or collaboration with brand partners for maximum value and with sustainability front of mind. We are incredibly excited to launch certified carbon-neutral amenity kits for Hawaiian Airlines!”

These kits, featuring designs from Hawaii Lifestyle Brand Noho Home, are to be provided on flights to and from Austin, Boston, and New York, in addition to all international flights. Hawaiian Airlines, prioritizing sustainability and Aloha, began introducing these kits to passengers earlier this month. The kits incorporate amenities crafted from responsibly sourced materials, packaged in recycled canvas bags to minimize waste.

Our take on all airline amenity kits.

We recently featured amenity kits in an article following United’s Polaris and first-class flights to and from Hawaii.

Jeff is not a huge fan of amenity kits, but Rob loves them and collects them. As the quality and quantity of contained amenities have decreased over the years, they have, however, become much less of a keepsake than they once were. And actually, that’s a whole other story.

Are you flying Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort? Are you willing to pay as much as $278 each way in addition to the economy ticket cost for extra legroom or do you expect more?

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4 thoughts on “Hawaiian Air Evolution: Economy + Extra Comfort Take New Flight Paths”

  1. I’ve been flying Extra Comfort for years and have seen the amenities disappear. My wife likes the extra leg room; if not for that, I’d have switched to economy. Bottom line, Extra Comfort isn’t worth the price increases that we’ve seen over the years. It’s truly criminal what Hawaiian’s been doing.

  2. This is the downside of consumerism.
    Everyone is focused on the cheapest price
    and low quality service is what you end up with!

  3. Just returned from a round trip on Hawaiian Airlines AUS/HNL/LIH.
    Service in Extra Comfort on both the outbound and return AUS/HNL flights was excellent. Far superior to both American and United, which I have flown on this same route numerous times both pre and post Covid. The AUS/HNL flights were completely full and hope that will encourage Hawaiian to perhaps increase the frequency of this long haul route to South Central Texas. Looking forward to Hawaiian’s new 787 service, but definitely disappointed that the seating in coach will be 3/3/3, with no dedicated Premium Economy. The A330 2/4/2 seating is much better for single and couples traveling to Hawaii.

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