Review: Hawaiian Airlines B717-2, Honolulu – Lihue

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Our travels would take us on Hawaiian Airlines service between the Hawaiian Islands as we travelled from Honolulu on Oahu over to Poipu on Kauai. As one of the sole major carriers operating the route between the two islands, you’re likely to fly Hawaiian Airlines if you travel by air between the islands. Our flight today would take us on their unusual Boeing 717 – 200 series jet in first class for an unusually comfortable island hop.


This post is one chapter on our trip on the United Island Hopper and to Oahu & Kauai, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan, United Airlines Mileage Plus and Marriott Bonvoy. It was further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. 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 B717-2, Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport – Kauai Lihue Airport


Hawaiian Airlines operates a fleet of twenty Boeing 717-200 twin engine jet aircraft for its regional island hop flights between the Hawaiian Islands. The Boeing 717-200 series are a unique aircraft that were originally designed as a McDonnell Douglas MD-95. They were 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. As one of the limited worldwide operators for this type, it’s always unusual to fly this type of aircraft.

Booking Hawaiian Airlines First Class:

In order to get from Oahu to Kauai, I had to book an inter island flight between the two Hawaiian Islands. I ended up just booking a paid first class fare on Hawaiian since the difference between Economy and First Class a checked bag was minimal (less than $30 USD +/-).

Unfortunately, Hawaiian Airlines has changed their earning structure and made earning mileage on other carriers much more restrictive so we didn’t expect to earn any useful miles for this segment. Surprisingly though, after entering our number when buying online, we ended up with 125 miles in credit after flying this segments to our AAdvantage account.

After checking in, and spending some time in the Hawaiian Airlines Plumeria Lounge courtesy of Priority Pass, we headed down to the gate at the posted boarding time of 12:45 PM. We seemed to have missed the early boarding call because on arrival to the gate at about 12:50 PM, they were already finishing up boarding on boarding group 6. Fortunately, there was a first class lane and we were able to skip on fairly easily.

Boarding Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717-200
Hawaiian Airlines
HA 293 – First Class (A)
HNL – LIH (Honolulu – Lihue)
January 31, 2020
1:10 PM – 1:56 PM
Booked: Boeing 717
Flown: Boeing 717

On Board Hawaiian Airlines First Class:

On board, we settled into the smaller but plush Boeing 717 seats. Hawaiian Airlines First Class is set up in a 2-2 configuration. The first class cabin only exists over two rows of First Class, for a total of eight seats.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class Boeing 717-200

I was fortunately able to find bin space, since only one side is available since the other is full occupied with emergency equipment. Similar to the Embraer aircraft, there really is only overhead cabin space on the right hand side of the aircraft.

No Available Overhead Bin Space Here!

The Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 – 200 is a treat to fly short distances with it’s eight seat first class cabin and 120 economy seats. It is a much more comfortable aircraft than the single class of service ATR-72 aircraft that is sometimes featured on inter island routes in parts of the world.

Pre Departure Services:

On today’s flight, there was no pre-departure beverage offered. The kind flight attendant took a drink order for when we were airborne.

We departed from Honolulu International Airport. As we got underway, we had a bit of plane spotting on the way out.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 330
Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 321neo

Once we were airborne, the drinks were dropped off. In the seat back was the usual Hana Hoku in flight magazine and a local newspaper which was a nice touch.

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Arriving into Kauai Airport:

We landed in Kauai. We happened to be seated on the right hand side of the aircraft, which happened to be on the wrong side of the aircraft for the coastal views. We eventually disembarked into the Kauai airport.

Hawaiian Airlines at Kauai International Airport

Kauai Airport is a pretty sleepy hollow type of airport. It was awfully quiet when we arrived. We navigated ourselves to the baggage claim, where we were the only flight arriving at the time. Like many airports in Hawaii, the baggage claim area is an open air terminal. It’s the same temperature as outside.

Navigating to Baggage Claim
Waiting for the Bags in Kauai Airport
Heading off to Car Rental

After collecting the checked baggage, we would head off to The Sheraton Kauai Resort for a wonderful five day stay.

My Thoughts on Hawaiian Airlines Inter Island First Class:

Hawaiian Airlines First Class is a great but simple way to get between the islands. If the price is the same as a regular economy fare, it makes sense to pick up a discounted first class fare for the priority handling. While the flights aren’t necessarily full of amenities, it’s a pretty comfortable way to get around the islands on a unique worldwide aircraft.


If you’ve flown Hawaiian Airlines between the islands, did you enjoy the experience getting to another island ?

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