Shandelle Battersby flies HA446 to Hawaii.
A Hawaiian Airlines' Airbus A330. Many of the airline's A330s have just been refitted with lie-flat Business Class seats to service its longest-haul flights between Hawaii and Australia, New Zealand, Japan and New York.
Class: Business Class — or as they say on the mainland US flights, First Class. The thrice-weekly Hawaiian Airlines flights leave at 12.30am. This is great if you can get on board and go to sleep then arrive in Honolulu just after 10am the calendar day before, rested and good to go.
Flight time: 8 hours and 50 minutes.
On time: Yes, we even arrived early too, which was good news for making my quick connecting flight to the Neighbour Island of Kauai in plenty of time.
My seat: 1C at the front of the cabin next to a chatty Hawaiian in the tourism industry, who had just been exploring New Zealand for a week and was loving our Lord of the Rings offerings. Always nice to get good feedback.
The design: Inspiration for the new lie-flat seats comes from the island state's winds and ocean, so there are lots of flowing curves. The Premium Cabin has 18 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, and there is plenty of space — the seats are 20.5 inches wide and 76 inches long, and the TV screens are removable large-format iPads on adjustable telescopic arms, which can be easily pushed out of the way to give you more room. Headphones are Sennheiser.
The fabrics are fresh and fun — acclaimed local designer Sig Zane worked on the hot-pink duvets, lounging pillows and the amenity kits, which are adorned with a lehua flower pattern. The bed also comes with a comfy mattress pad, and slippers are provided.
Special shoutout for the socks, which are designed to look like Hawaiian Airlines' Jandals.
What's different? The dial set control, which raises or lowers the seat and is really easy to operate.
The food and drink: Is the domain of another local identity, Chef Chai Chaowasaree, who has had a several-year association with the airline. The menu features dishes such as a corn chowder and a tandoori chicken and spicy eggplant panini, with apple panna cotta for dessert, and a light continental breakfast or full cooked breakfast before landing.
Business class guests are offered a signature Mai Tai by On the Rocks once on board, and there are other cocktails available inflight. The wine list features New Zealand, Californian and Italian wines.
Price: From $4142 return, inclusive, if you book early to snare this price. It's possible too, to book Business one way, Economy or Extra Comfort the other (from $2699, inclusive - add $175 for Extra Comfort).
Fellow passengers: I would say almost all leisure travellers - think honeymooners, couples, families, the airline's main target market out of New Zealand. USB outlets and privacy screens should you need to work.
How full: To the gunnels.
Entertainment: A good selection, but I went to sleep after eating half of my meal.
The service: As aloha as you can get.
The toilets: Standard, but loved having a pair of slippers to wear to and from.
Luggage: This is where Hawaiian Airlines beats everyone else hands down, with two bags of 32kg each allowed.
The airport experience: Business class gets you access to the Emperor Lounge, which several airlines use, and it was great for a drink and a bit of work before boarding.
Would I fly this again? If I wanted to maximise my holiday in Hawaii without any sleep lag — or even get a decent sleep before continuing on to the mainland US or the outer islands, I reckon that this is worth every cent.