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I wouldn’t normally even consider booking a Hawaiian Airlines First Class fare for a flight as short as the one between Maui and Kauai (approximately 40 minutes) but, on this trip, the math more or less made sense.
I was flying with my extended family in tow and, as we were on an extended trip, we had a number of suitcases with us that had to be checked into the hold.
As none of us holds an airline status which saves us from Hawaiian’s checked bag fees the cost of a First Class ticket (which includes two checked bags) worked out to be only around $20 more than an Economy Class fare with baggage fees added on.
$20 to board first and to sit in a comfortable seat (some seats in Economy Class have just 30” of legroom) didn’t seem like an unreasonable extra cost even if was only a 40 minute flight – that’s how I ended up in the First Class cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717.
Hawaiian has a dedicated check-in desk for First Class passengers and Premier Club members at Maui Airport…..
….and, as there was only one couple ahead of us in line when we arrived, check-in didn’t take very long at all.
There’s no airline or Priority Pass lounge at Maui Airport so, from that point of view, there’s very little point in arriving any earlier for your flight than you absolutely have to.
However, having said that, the TSA lines can be long at busier times of the day so don’t leave things too late…especially if you don’t have access to TSA PreCheck.
There are two boarding lines for Hawaiian Airlines’ intra-island flights – Main Cabin (Economy Class) and First Class/everyone with Hawaiian Airlines status.
This isn’t ideal as the airline calls passengers in First Class first so, if you’re in First Class and not in line early, you can find yourself having to make your way through a swarm of other passengers when called to board.
Still, in the grand scheme of things that’s not a huge issue…just a mildly irritating one.
Boarding was called a little late as our aircraft was late in arriving from Honolulu…..
…but the gate agents were all very pleasant and, when we did finally board, everything seemed to go smoothly.
Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 First Class Cabin
The Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class cabin has just 2 rows of 4 seats…..
…and the front row window seats are labeled in red by SeatGuru because they have a window missing……
…and because legroom is limited due to the bulkhead.
I was seated in row 2 where there was more window to look out of (one whole- and two half-windows)….
…and definitely more legroom and space to store items of hand luggage:
The importance of having extra space for hand luggage soon became apparent when I noticed that the two overhead bins above row 1 are labeled for crew use only….
…..and the overhead bins above seats 2A and 2B are full of flight-related things including demonstration equipment:
Fortunately Joanna (who was in seat 1A) was allowed to use the bin above seats 1E/F to stow her carry-on otherwise who knows where she would have had to store it – the only bins apparently for passenger use are above seats 2E/F and that was already full.
Tip: If you know you’re going to need overhead bin space, board as soon as possible!
The central armrests are old-school and nice and wide…..
….and they even have a small drinks ledge that pulls out:
The main tray table is stowed inside the outer armrests….
….and this opens up in two stages:
A small negative point is that there’s no power outlet at the seats…..but for most that shouldn’t really be an issue on short, intra-island flights.
The seats all come with their own air-conditioning nozzles which, considering how hot it can get while you’re waiting for all passengers to board, is a definite positive.
I definitely prefer to have control over the air flow than have to rely on the crew (who are usually otherwise engaged) to ensure the cabin is comfortable.
My overall thoughts on the seat I was in (row 2) were positive.
There was lots of legroom (I’m just about 6 feet tall and I didn’t feel I needed any more) and the amount of personal space you’re given is very similar to what you’ll find in a number of long-haul Premium Economy cabins.
The seat recline seemed pretty good too….although I didn’t have much need for it on a flight that took a little under 40 minutes.
Hawaiian Airlines Intra-Island First Class Service
You really can’t expect much on a 40 minute flight especially as for a good portion of that time you’re either climbing or descending so the seatbelt signs are on.
Still, the flight attendants took my post take-off drink order just after boarding had ended and it arrived shortly after we leveled off together with a bag of “pau hana snack mix”
The passenger in the seat next to me had ordered a coffee (which apparently was “pretty good”) and it turns out that Hawaiian Airlines serves Biscoff with their hot drinks:
There’s not really much else to report from a service point of view (like I’ve mentioned, it was a very short flight) but the two flight attendants I interacted with were both very pleasant, smiley and, when it came to finding overhead space for passengers’ luggage, noticeably helpful.
On Last Thing To Note
If you happen to be flying on the Maui – Kauai route the right side of the aircraft may get some very nice views of Oahu’s south coast…..
…and Honolulu International Airport…..
…but the left side of the aircraft gets the good views of Kauai as you come in to land.
• Poor legroom in row 1 of First Class
• Very limited amount of overhead bin space for First Class passengers if signs on bins are to be believed.
• Friendly crew
• Very good legroom and seat width in row 2
• Comfortable seats with good recline
Overall this was a nice experience and the extra $20 we each paid to avoid the crush in Economy Class seemed well worth it.