Grant Bradley flies aboard Hawaiian Airlines flight HA446 from Auckland to Honolulu.
A five-year-old Airbus A330-200. Hawaiian has 24 of these aircraft for Pacific Rim flying and longer legs into the United States mainland. The planes have 192 Economy Class seats, 68 Extra Comfort and 18 Business Class seats.
My seat: 15C. An Extra Comfort "brown top". This gives you plenty of legroom and large wrap-around leather headrest. The airline charges $175 each way for Extra Comfort seats but there is a significant amount of extra personal space so it's well worth considering, especially on the overnight flight up to Hawaii.
How full: Just under half, which was fantastic for me — I ended up having four seats in a centre block to myself, a lie-flat situation for Extra Comfort pricing. The flight home was full.
On time: Hawaiian regularly has the best on-time performance of all US airlines — we departed on time and arrived a little early after a flight of eight hours and 15 minutes.
Baggage: A whopping 2x32kg in the hold.
Food: With a departure just before midnight it's a light snack soon after take-off. It was a sandwich soon after with a Honolulu Cookie Company cookie and some cleverly packaged apple that stayed remarkably fresh, washed down by a Bikini Blonde, a local Hawaiian brew. Breakfast posed the usual airline challenge to get eggs, sausage, beans and tomato right but it got there, the carrot cake muffin a great success.
The service: Nine cabin crew provided an unobtrusive service, a cheerful bunch with flowers in their hair.
Toilets: With a light passenger load there was little pressure on the facilities, which were clean and tidy and had a nicely scented coconut soap. (Likewise on the full return flight.)
Amenity kit: Extra Comfort seats mean a nicely styled Business Class-type kit, which includes hydrating mist, lip balm, hand cream, toothbrush, eye mask and ever-important pen.
Entertainment: Seatback screens are easy to operate, you're not overwhelmed by choice but there's plenty there — emphasis on family movies.
The flight: Smooth as silk in spite of a warning that remnants of a tropical storm could have made the landing choppy.
The airport experience: Absolute breeze getting through Auckland Airport. You arrive at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye Airport at a busy time of the day but from arrival to kerbside outside the terminal it was less than an hour and it's a far more relaxed place to enter the US than mainland ports.
The bottom line: Although it was a "b-leisure" trip for me, there's a relaxed holiday feel as soon as you step on board. The airline is expanding its mainland US network. Honolulu to Boston flights start next April making the Honolulu-mainland option even more attractive with the benefit of a stopover in a justifiably popular holiday hotspot.