Tale of Two Airlines: Hawaiian Air Vs. Delta On Fresh Route

Tale of Two Airlines: Delta Vs. Hawaiian On Fresh Route

It’s always fascinating to see how airlines stack up on Hawaii flights. In the latest round, Hawaiian this week joined Delta in competition on this new route.

Hawaiian Airlines launched its new nonstop service, announced late last year, between Salt Lake City and Honolulu. The flights operate daily on the company’s Airbus A321neo aircraft. These flights will now compete head-on with daily nonstop flights offered by Utah bellwether Delta Airlines.

Delta economy SLC-HNL
Delta economy SLC-HNL

What are the differences between the two airlines’ offerings?

  • Business class accommodations: Delta Air Lines’ widebody Boeing 767 planes feature 36 lie-flat business class seats. The narrow-body Hawaiian A321neo aircraft have 16 traditional reclining business class seats.
  • Economy class accommodations: On Hawaiian Air, seating is in a 3×3 configuration. On Delta, it is a 2-3-2 seat layout.
Hawaiian economy SLC-HNL
Hawaiian economy SLC-HNL
  • The new Hawaiian Airlines flight departs Salt Lake City daily at 7:00 a.m. and arrives HNL at 10:00 a.m. The Delta flight departs daily at 11:20 a.m. and arrives in Hawaii at 1:53 p.m.
  • On the red-eye return flights starting in Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines departs daily at 7:00 p.m., and arrives SLC at 5:15 a.m the next day. Delta departs daily at 8:45 p.m. and arrives at 6:45 am.
  • Both companies provide free high-speed internet. Hawaiian has the newest, fastest, state-of-the-art Starlink internet on its flights.

Our take on the differences between Hawaiian and Delta on this new route.

1. Hawaiian will have the advantage of offering its traditional Hawaiian hospitality and flair from the moment customers step on board. They also have superior free WiFi. A disadvantage for Hawaiian, however, is a narrow-body aircraft, which isn’t nearly as desirable as a widebody, on a flight of such a long duration. Both airlines fly from Salt Lake City during the day while returning from Hawaii overnight.

2. Delta has a leg up when it comes to some other important factors. Those include the 36 Delta One business class suites which offer lie flat comfort. Not only that, but the 2-3-2 economy class configuration will mean that far fewer people will have to sit in a dreaded middle seat in economy.

3. On flights of nearly seven hours duration, and with return from Hawaii being overnight, comfort may become the deciding factor for many who fly on this important new route.

4. In terms of other offerings, including snacks and beverages, in our own experiences we have found the two airlines to be largely comparable in economy class. Entertainment is a matter of personal choice. Delta Studio has a vast selection of entertainment, while Hawaiian’s options are more limited, but includes Hawaii themed content.

Further thoughts on this new Hawaiian Air route.

It isn’t clear if Hawaiian can develop the passenger following on this route in order to move to a larger and more comparable aircraft, whether that be their A330 or the new B787. That would certainly put them in the driver’s seat for Salt Lake City to Hawaii passengers.

Delta, on the other hand, is by far the most important airline at SLC,. Competition for Hawaii passengers will be fierce.

That should benefit passengers with lower priced fare opportunities ahead. Fares for after the summer crunch are currently hovering at $500 round trip on both airlines, but we expect to see them cave in the near future.

Is this a route you fly and if so, will you be on Hawaiian Airlines or Delta Air Lines?

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9 thoughts on “Tale of Two Airlines: Delta Vs. Hawaiian On Fresh Route”

  1. For a seven hour flight on a Hawaiian A321 or a Delta 767 – don’t think twice – take the Delta. Although both types of planes board through the Forward 1L passenger door, the B767 has Two Aisles for easier boarding and deplaning whereas the A321 is a Single Aisle aircraft and is a Nightmare to board, deplane and to work as a Flight Attendant and as a passenger.
    The A321 was the Airbus answer to the B757 but the 2L door on the A321 is useless for boarding – all passengers must come in through 1L. 3×3 Seating in Coach – B767 2-3-2 -much more comfortable and aisle accessible.

  2. I just did a check on the pricing between the two airlines from SLC to HNL
    Delta is cheaper on average of $420 for same flight dates.
    That is a huge difference.

  3. Delta also has a Salt Lake City to Maui airport route as well I wonder if Hawaiian Airlines is going to be adding a new route to Maui airport to salt Lake airport to Maui

  4. I flew this Delta flight the first week of April. The 767 cabin was in need of some tlc (heavily worn luggage bins in configurations). There was no free Wifi as you suggest. The air systems was the old high pressure blasting style you have to almost stand to reach your control nob, common in the 767. It was like sitting in a dehydrator on skin and eyes. Not to mention the cost was ridiculously high, probably 2x the main cabin cost Hawaiian is offering. The Delta flight attendants were snarky when asked about not providi pillows on the overnight flight (no longer offered on “domestic” flights). This is coming from multi-year platinum medallion. The 321 NEO will be Much more comfortable, and probably a lot friendlier, competition welcome!

  5. DL can interline with AA and UA if they can’t get them on other DL flight if they break an airplane in HNL. HI passengers going west will have to wait for the airplane to be replaced from HNL or repaired. Probably at least an overnight.

    1. Hi Dan.

      Thanks for asking. When we checked a few days ago on the whereabouts of all of those A321 planes, all but two appeared to be in service. That’s a hopeful sign.


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