Review: Hawaiian Airlines First Class B717-2, Honolulu – Kahului Maui

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Hawaiian Airlines operates a funky first class cabin on its inter island flights between Hawaiian Islands. If you plan in advance, it’s pretty easy to pick up a first class fare for only a few more dollars than economy class. When you do this, you’re able to collect a suite of inclusions that’s almost like getting first class for free.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Honolulu & Maui, Hawaii, United States of America. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and Fairmont President’s Club. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Hawaiian Airlines First Class B717-2, Honolulu – Kahului Maui


“Hawaiian Airlines First Class is the only real way to get around the islands with inclusions such as Priority Boarding, included Checked Baggage Allowance and Complimentary Hawaiian Airlines Premier Lounge Access “

Hawaiian Airlines
First Class
HA 398 – First Class (F)
HNL-OGG (Honolulu International Airport – Kahului International Airport)
January 9, 2016
Booked: Boeing 717
Flown: Boeing 717-2
Departure: 12:50 PM
Arrival: 1:33 PM

We ended up purchasing first class outright on this leg as the premium was only about $25 per ticket after you added up the ancillary charges of a checked bag. We credited to AAdvantage frequent flier program and the points did turn up approximately 30 days after the flight.

We ended up leaving the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Honolulu for boarding at Gate B5.

Honolulu Gate B5
Priority Boarding for Everyone!

Hawaiian Airlines operates a fleet of twenty Boeing 717-200 twin engine jet aircraft for its regional island hop flights between the Hawaiian Islands. They are a quirky aircraft originally designed as a McDonnell Douglas MD-95, eventually marketed as a Boeing 717 when Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997. There are less than 150 Boeing 717’s in operation in the world, with the primary users being Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines and Qantas Airlink.

The Unusual Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717
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On Board Hawaiian Airlines First Class:

When it came time to board, there was a proper first class boarding, with first class actually being boarded first.

The Hawaiian Airlines First Class is a tiny two row first class cabin in a 2-2 configuration, consisting of eight seats overall.

Hawaiian Airlines B717-2 First Class
Hawaiian Airlines B717-2 First Class Cabin

The seats on the Hawaiian First Class section are somewhat tighter than the regular barca lounger style seats found on Boeing 737 or Airbus 320 series aircraft. Despite being a bit tighter, they are better than the usual blocked middle economy seats found on intra European narrow body aircraft.

In terms of seating position, the seats are somewhat compact and you sat bolt upright when they were in the upright position. I felt that I was being disciplined at school it was seating that was so “straight up”.

If you are travelling with hand luggage, make sure you board early. We appreciated the Priority Boarding as the Boeing 717’s are really tight on bin space in the First Class Section. There’s room for one suitcase per bin and that’s it.

Limited First Class Bin Space

Since the Hawaiian Airlines First Class Cabin is so small, it’s not a very elegant or spacious place. It is also missing any marketing or otherwise colorful accents, opting for a plain bulkhead wall.

The Plain Atmosphere of the Hawaiian Airlines First Class Cabin

There was only space for for three rollies total in the front cabin. If you’re traveling with a rollie like I do, make sure you get there early!! We had to stick MrsWT73’s rollie behind the curtain above row 4 in economy class.

As we settled in, the pilot (or first officer) was testing the automated warning message system. I actually found it to be quite comical, breaking up the dreary usual cabin preparation activities. There were no sandal markings on the bulkhead with a Hawaiian themed “Mahalo”.

A No Sandal Zone

Departing Honolulu International Airport:

There were some nice views today of Hawaiian Airlines aircraft, and some Japan Airlines aircraft on the apron. Unfortunately, the windows were pretty dirty for photographs.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 330’s at HNL
Japan Airlines B767’s at HNL

The drink order was taken while we were on the ground. We went with Mai Tai’s today. There was also red and white wine, and some generic beers (Heineken etc) as well as the usual soda pops. Through the pre-departure announcement, alcoholic drinks and beers were available for purchase in economy.

The “In Flight” Service: A Complimentary Mai Tai

We were airborne really quickly with some great island spotting views on the way.

Departing from the Coral Runway at HNL

Once we reached a cruising altitude, our Mai Tai’s with ice were served in plastic cups.

Hawaiian Airlines Mai Tai’s

It was a pretty quick flight all up with some island spotting along the way.

Hawaiian Coast Line Views

We barely had time for a drink refills as we descended on our nice approach into Kahuliui, Maui

On Approach into Maui
A Sister Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717-2 at OGG

My Thoughts on Hawaiian Airlines First Class Inter Island Service:

All in all, it was a pleasant inter island flight. Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t offer an over the top experience that you’d get on a wide body flight. In our case, there was only minimal difference between the first class and economy class fares; the difference of which that covered all our ancillary needs, including the checked baggage. As a result, I can’t hesitate to recommend the Hawaiian Airlines First Class option as long as the price difference between the two are minimal.


If you’ve flown inter island on Hawaiian Airlines First Class, did you find the price premium worth all the extra inclusions?

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