Flight check: Honolulu to Auckland on Hawaiian Airlines

By Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy tries to fly Air New Zealand NZ9 from Honolulu to Auckland before eventually getting on Hawaiian Airlines HA445.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330.
Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330.

The plane: Air New Zealand's flight NZ9 features a Boeing 767 on this route. After an aborted takeoff and many delays last week, we were switched to Hawaiian Airlines flight 445 for the flight home; their plane was an A330.

Class: Economy.

Price: Air NZ - around $600 one way.

On time: NZ9 ended up being 50 hours late; Hawaiian on time.

My seat: 11J - gave a good view of NZ9 aborting takeoff mid-runway; Hawaiian's 32E was comfortable enough, but tight on leg-room.

Fellow passengers: A good bunch of Kiwis heading home from holidays; herded to buses and check-ins and baggage and immigration and security most of them five times, some of them seven, through Honolulu airport. Early acceptance of safety being paramount gave way to irritation and disbelief at poor communication and Air New Zealand over-promising and under-delivering a replacement plane.

How full: Both flights full; Hawaiian had scores of Air New Zealand refugees.

Entertainment: Air New Zealand seat-screens were limited and clunky in the old 767; Hawaiian's were new but pay per view with credit card and the instructions were not easy to follow.

The service: NZ9 flight crew didn't get a chance to serve us, but they were professional and calm after takeoff was aborted; Hawaiian's people were cheery, flexible and full of mahalos.

Food and drink: HA445 only one meal - chicken/rice and two offers of drinks free; other snacks available in galley through flight.

The toilets: Clean, loud.

Luggage: One 23kg bag on Air NZ with a $200 charge for extra item, honoured by HA445.

The airport experience: Endless; dispiriting; Over 40 hours with five times through airport procedures and back; lax security as delayed passengers took over airline desks and wandered through all but empty and open-sided terminal.

The low-point: Being told at 3.30am on the first night that taxi vouchers had run out, no coaches were available and hotel rooms were proving hard to source. "But" said the contracted ground crew staffer: "Our high-value customers did get taxis and have been accommodated." The remaining, low-value customers bristled.

The high-point: Kiwis looking out for each other, black humour and all.

Would I fly this again? Not the 767 service. Best to wait for a new Air New Zealand aircraft. Hawaiian was modern, comfortable and friendly.

- NZ Herald

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