Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hawaiian Airlines First Class on the A330-200 Part 3

Here I am back on Hawaiian Airlines flight HA18 from Honolulu to Las Vegas taking the same flight I flew in April. And like that previous flight, I have the opportunity to fly in the first class cabin. Last month I upgraded by redeeming HawaiianMiles. Today I purchased a standby upgrade. As I reach the Ewa terminal at Honolulu International, one of Hawaiian's new Airbus A330-200 jets is parked at the terminal.

This will the third time I will fly the A330-200 on Hawaiian (Click HERE to read about the flight on 4/17/12; Click HERE to read about the flight on 4/21/12). This one sitting at Gate 26 is the plane for flight HA18. Hawaiian has named each of their A330s after a star or constellation used by Polynesian voyagers for celestial navigation. This jet is named

Hokupa'a which is the Hawaiian language name for Polaris, or the North Star. This particular A330-200 was the fifth to join Hawaiian's fleet in October 2011.

I love flying wide-body jets. Of course I can say that more often now then when I first started traveling.  As an elite member in American and Hawaiian's mileage programs, better seat choices are within my grasp then back in the 1990s and before the internet where it was more of an effort to purchase a ticket and shop for the best price.

Though the seats do not lie flat like on other carriers, the design of the cabin and seats do make the cabin feel roomy. Unlike the two flights last month, I am sitting in a window seat. Actually when I purchased the standby upgrade, there were only two seats left and both were by the windows so my choice was limited. The other was in the first row where there is no storage in front of you.

The beauty of flying in daylight over the Hawaiian Islands. In this photo, the jet cruises above the island of Molokai in the foreground. In the distance on the right is the island of Lanai. Beyond on the left is the island of Maui. The clouds all hover each island's mountains.

The menu choices are still the same from last month so I attempt to try something different. Unlike other airlines the meal service in Hawaiian's first class starts out with the usual bowl of warm nuts and drinks but there is no salad course. Instead each passenger picks three of the mini entrees from the list and they are served at one time with taro bread.

My three choices off the menu are the Hawaiian-Style Chicken, Crispy Wonton Tacos and the Spinach Gnocchi. I like eating Gnocchi so when I had it last month I was disappointed it was cold and tough. It was served hot today and it tasted much better. The big disappointment is the tacos with shrimp and crab salad filling. The filling needs more season and the gritty flour texture of the tacos is like eating paper. The chicken is best thing on the tray and the glaze and mango salsa is excellent. But have you ever tried to slice a piece of chicken over a bed of rice on such a tiny plate. It's quite a challenge to perform while keeping the entire dish including every grain of rice within the plate. Click HERE to view Hawaiian's in-flight dining menus.

The dubious Grand Mariner Ice Cream Truffle with Orange Creme Anglaise make an appearance for dessert. I say dubious because on the flight last month to Vegas, these were served frozen like a hockey puck. It was almost funny to watch the other passengers try to break the shell. It's less a challenge today as I guess the flight attendants had them defrost a little before serving. Now I like to put my own cream and sugar in my coffee but when I requested for a cup, the flight attendant serves the coffee with the cream and sugar already mixed in.  I had to request for a bit more sugar.

My JBL noise-cancelling headphones are likely nearing the end of their lifespan. So I used the noise-cancelling headsets offered by the airline. I brought my iPad with me loaded with a couple of movies. I see a lot of movies so the popular films usually offered on the plane are ones I have usually seen.

Looking at the choices of movies and television programs, I don't find anything I want to see. The monitor's touch screen is almost the size of my iPad and color and resolution not bad. The monitor is stored in the armrest between seats. Lift the armrest cover, push on the monitor and it slides out.

One of my favorite board games is incarnated in a touch-screen version. The entertainment options includes several video games. My game choice is Battleship. After a few rounds of the game and watching a movie on my iPad, I attempt to try and rest. I can't sleep so the quiet hum offered by the noise-cancelling headphones helps me to at least relax for remainder of the flight.


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