Airbus A330 Business Class Review: Hawaiian Airlines 

I flew business class on Hawaiian Airlines from San Francisco to Honolulu, my first time experiencing Hawaii’s flagship airline. 

Days leading up before departure, I remember being very excited for this flight because Hawaiian Airlines upgraded their business class product on their Airbus A330 fleet. 

Hawaiian Airlines has been operating the Airbus A330 for long-haul domestic and international flights since 2010, ultimately replacing the 767 fleet. 

The Hawaiian Airlines business class cabin has 18 seats, on a 2-2-2 seating configuration.

hawaiian airlines a330 seat map
source: seatguru.com

Brief History of the Aircraft Airbus A330

The airbus A330 first came into service in 1994, with Air Inter being the first operator, on a route from Paris to Marseille. 

The A330 is Airbus’ wide body aircraft, used mostly for mid to long-haul flights, with seating capacity ranging from 210 to 290, depending on the A330 variation. 

Today, Turkish Airlines is the largest operator of the Airbus A330, with 64 aircraft. 

Ground Staff/Service

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330

The check-in process with the Hawaiian Airlines ground staff was smooth as the flight itself. When I arrived at the check-in counter, there was hardly any line – which shows the efficiency of the ground crew on getting passengers to the gate.

I also enjoyed seeing the check-in agents dressed in the traditional Hawaiian print attire with the flower behind their ear. Seeing their uniform gave that feeling of “Wow, I’m ready for my three-day weekend in Honolulu!”

Highly enjoyed it!

The Hawaiian Airlines Lounge

Unfortunately, there was no lounge access for Hawaiian Airlines First and Business class passengers in San Francisco International Airport. 

According to loungebuddy.com, Hawaiian Airlines Business class passenger lounge access is available on the following locations:

Hawaiian Airlines’ Premier Club lounges are located throughout the Hawaiian island chain. These locations are accessible to Hawaiian Airlines business and first class passengers, as well as Hawaiian Airlines’ Pualani Gold and Platinum members when flying with Hawaiian. Hawaiian Airlines also offers a Premier Club membership, which allows guests to access Premier Lounges with up to 2 complimentary guests. The flagship Hawaiian Airlines Lounge is the Plumeria Lounge in HNL. First and business class passengers flying on Hawaiian can access the lounge for free, while Pualani Platinum and Gold members can purchase access at a discounted rate.

The Hawaiian Airlines Business Class Cabin 

Hawaiian Airlines operates the Airbus A330-200 on long-haul flights. This aircraft flies with 18 lie flat seats in First Class and 260 seats in Economy Class. The Airbus A330-200 aircraft version presented here features lie flat beds in its Business Class, or First Class Premium Cabin. The lie flat bed seats have been designed with aspects from Hawaii’s environment such as curves, earth tone colors, and natural wood.

Hawaiian Airlines has long been known as a leisure carrier (usually means that their products are not high end). The configuration of the Airbus A330-200 in Business class was the standard 2-2-2, with a total of 18 seats.

But Hawaiian airlines have upgraded its Airbus fleet with brand new interiors and lie-flat seats. I feel that the upgrades on their Business Class is top-notch and arguably makes Hawaiian Airlines more of a hybrid airline (a cross between a major carrier and leisure carrier) – making them competitive with major U.S. carriers like Delta, United, and American on flights in and out of Hawaii.

Business Class Seat Review

I was seated on 2B on my flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.

Each seat in the business class cabin is located in its own shell – with detailed designs of curves to represent Hawaii’s ocean waves – and slightly angled towards either the window or aisle. 

Compared to other business class seats in the market, the Hawaiian Airlines business class seats are not very private.

The seating is a 2-2-2 configuration, which reflects Hawaiian as a leisure carrier since couples and families are more frequent than solo travelers among its premium passengers. 

The seat configuration, in turn, is perfect for couples traveling together. There is, however, a divider screen between two adjoining seats that can be raised in case you are traveling on your own and seated next to a stranger.

Hawaiian airlines business class mai tai
Mai Tai on Hawaiian Airlines Business Class

In front of the seat is a small ottoman, with a side panel that prevents your feet from dropping off the footrest while you move around. There’s a tiny storage area underneath the ottoman to stow away your shoes in-flight. 

The shared arm rest between two seats hides the tray table and an adjustable, telescoping in-seat arm, which is used to fix the large screen tablet (distributed by the crew shortly after takeoff) and which can be adjusted to optimize viewing angle and comfort.

The seat goes fully flat into a 76-inch (193 cm) flatbed at 180-degrees, which is a massive improvement over Hawaiian’s business class seats on the Boeing 767. The flat bed is quite comfortable, although a little on the hard side (and duvets are not provided on domestic flights).

The Business Class Ambiance

onboard hawaiian airlines business class cabin airbus a330

The moment I boarded Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330, there was a distinct ambiance that sets the tone for your trip to Hawaii.

The following were the details I immediately picked-up on the moment I entered the business class cabin:

– The soothing nature music

– The blue wall with stars that mimic the Hawaiian sky

– The flight attendants dressed in traditional Hawaiian fabric

– The infamous mai-tai before take-off

I always look forward to trying brand-new aircraft interiors, and the ambiance the moment you step on-board added to the overall unique experience.

Hawaiian Airlines A330 Business In-Flight Entertainment

Something first on this Hawaiian Airlines flight: the use of iPads for the in-flight entertainment instead of the standard seats equipped with personal TV screens.

I’ve heard about airlines trying to eventually phase out personalized TV screens and replacing them with tablets (reducing the weight of the aircraft, among other reasons). So when I sat down and realized there weren’t any TV screens, I figured we would be given a tablet after take-off.

And sure enough, the flight attendants passed around giant iPads about 15 minutes after airborne.

Overall, I don’t think having an iPad as the in-flight entertainment is positive experience. The stands are tricky to deploy, things needed to be plugged in, the headphone jacks were difficult to find. It was overall a more complicated than a standard built-in screen at your seat. 

The Meal Service 

The meal service for this flight was rather basic. 

Although Hawaiian Airlines had everything covered – from appetizers, main entrée, to dessert – the selections were kind of basic compared other business class cabins I’ve been on.

Generally, I almost always overindulge in business class flights. But the meal service for this flight left little motivation to do so.

I tried the chicken with rice for the main entrée and cheesecake for dessert.

hawaiian airlines business class main entrée
Hawaiian Airlines A330 Business Class Food service

Hawaiian airlines in-flight dessert business class
Dessert time!

Bottom Line:

Although the business class product may not be the best compared to major airlines, I did enjoy the flight. The crew was friendly, and the experience of trying a new business class cabin is always fun.

I think I’ll wait to try Hawaiian’s business class on a different aircraft (either the A350 or 787, whenever they start their service), before I get on the business class on the A330 again.