Flight Test: Auckland to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines
With all this space, a lie-flat bed and duvet, it's hard not to feel bad for fellow flyers in economy class. But the Champagne helps.
Auckland, New Zealand to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Airbus A330-200. The aircraft carries 278 passengers; 18 in the Premium Cabin, 68 in Extra Comfort and 192 in the Main Cabin.
TIME IN THE AIR
Just over eight hours. The airline's big sell is "go to sleep, wake up the next day in Hawaii" which capitalises on the late departure time. It's the last flight leaving Auckland at 12:30am but fatigue can only be a plus if you get to sleep on the plane. However, if you struggle to nod off, you might arrive at your destination tired and grumpy.
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THE LOYALTY PLAN
UP THE BACK OR AT THE POINTY END
Seat 3G in business class. The cabin is laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration.
THE SEAT STUFF
This is where the magic happens. Not many business class cabins boast fully lie-flat beds and I cannot wait to toggle the button and see if it really did go to 180 degrees. But first, I have to put the mattress pad on. This is a soft comforter type mat that goes over your seat. There is also a plush duvet and pillow so you can really snuggle in. At 1.6 metres, I can stretch my legs fully but as with other business class seats, the foot-rest isn't massive.
A plastic divider can be put up between you and your neighbour for more privacy but most people seem to be travelling together and the two seater pods would be perfect for honeymooners.
Each seat has plenty of storage with compartments for electronics and other items on both sides.
Business class is a generous 32kg with an 11kg hand luggage allowance.
It's hard to imagine flying business class and being uncomfortable. While seat pitch doesn't matter when you're lying flat, the 180-degree beds are 52 centimetres wide by 1.93m long.
The amenity kits, designed by local artist Sig Zane, include an eye mask, ear plugs, socks and toiletries (including a comb and freshening spray), which means I hardly have to use anything from my carry-on luggage.
Passengers get iPads once airborne which sit into a nifty tablet holder that folds back into your armrest. I watch half of Allied, before going to sleep and finish it once I wake up so I don't have much time to watch anything else.
There was a good selection of TV shows and films but I have seen more comprehensive offerings on other airlines. Our tablets were also taken away about 30 minutes before landing, which wouldn't happen if it was built into the seat in front.
From the first "aloha" everyone is friendly and attentive. There is always someone nearby to help and had a sixth sense of knowing when to take your plate away or collect that hot towel.
Being greeted by a flight attendant with a tray of Champagne, Mai Tai cocktails and guava juice, all my resolutions to avoid alcohol go out the window. You can't fly business class and not accept a glass of bubbles, can you?
I order the tandoori chicken, eggplant and cheese panini when I board and it comes about half an hour into the flight. It comes with a light, corn soup, which is what you want late at night. The chicken was tender and flavoursome but the amount of cheese was a bit rich. I notice some people don't bother with this meal and I probably didn't have to considering how late it is.
An hour before landing breakfast is served and you could choose from a full breakfast or continental.
Hawaiian Airlines flies from Auckland three times a week.
It was my first time in Auckland Airport's Emperor Lounge which sounds fancier than it is. Maybe it is the late departure time but what is left of the food is a bit stale and lacklustre. But who can complain about Champagne on tap? (not literally).
I'm spoilt forever, I can never fly economy class again.
The writer travelled courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.