Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class San Diego to Honolulu

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class San Diego to Honolulu

I was pretty excited when I booked this reservation, mainly because I’ve never had the chance to try Hawaiian Airlines first class before. I knew it wasn’t anything special compared to other airlines, but still…the service on every other Hawaiian Airlines flight I’ve been on has been top notch so I was expecting good things in the front cabin. However, the air was let out of my tires slightly when a press release was announced a few days later stating that Hawaiian Airlines will be reconfiguring the first class cabins of it’s A330 aircraft with flat bed seats next year.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot better than the recliner chairs that are in first now. Oh well – I’ll just have to do this again next year to try out the new first class cabins! You don’t have to twist my arm too hard to convince me to do this again…

I arrived at SAN about three hours before departure, which to most probably seems absurdly early. I wouldn’t disagree, but I like to arrive early to avoid any and all stress. Besides – airports (especially terminal 2 here at SAN) are nice places to hang out and get some work done assuming that things aren’t too busy. Friday mornings aren’t usually busy anyway, and this morning was no exception.

SAN terminal 2 departures level
Moments after arriving at SAN via a taxi and walking into Terminal 2 West
hawaiian airlines check in san diego
Hawaiian Airlines check in counter
Honolulu here I come!
Honolulu here I come!

I hung out at the departure gate (51) for a while, then decided to get up and walk around once it started filling up with other passengers. Gate 51 has a very large and wide open seating area, but it fills up fast with Airbus A330 sized loads.

san diego airport terminal 2 west interior
Making the walk all the way to the end of terminal 2
gate 51 san diego international airport
Yep, I arrived a bit early. There’s nobody here yet!
gate 51 san diego airport
I will say that I really like the interior design of this airport. The new gate counters are really nice.
hawaiian airlines flight information board san diego
Close up of the flight information board showing an on time departure.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Honolulu, HI (HNL)
Friday, November 6, 2015
Aircraft: A330-200
Seat: 3H (first class)

hawaiian airlines a330 side view
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 (N395HA) side view illustration by Norebbo.com
san diego to honolulu route map
The route to Honolulu today: PEBLE6 SXC DINTY DUETS R576 DADIE R576 DIALO R576 DRAYK R576 DENNS MAGGI3

I boarded the aircraft as soon as they called for zone 1 (first class passengers), hoping to be one of the first on the airplane so I could get some unobstructed pics of the first class cabin. It didn’t quite work out that way – the cabin was half full by the time I got onboard so I had to make due with what I had.

boarding hawaiian airlines flight san diego
Moments before general boarding began
boarding flight to honolulu
The downside about gate 51 here at SAN is that it’s really difficult to get a clear view of the aircraft. Here’s what it looks like walking down the jet bridge.
gate 51 jet bridge SAN
I do like this jet bridge though – the glass windows are a nice touch, and I believe this is the only jet bridge at SAN that is wide open like this (at the time of this writing).
hawiian airlines a330 first class seat
My first class seat for the five and a half hour flight to HNL today (3H)
hawaiian airlines a330 first class seat
This is a standard first class recliner seat, which will be replaced with lie flat seats beginning next year
hawaiian airlines a330 first class cabin
Looking forward towards the front of the first class cabin
hawaiian airlines first class cabin
A slightly better overall shot of the first class cabin (and of course that ONE person looking directly at the camera!)
hawaiian airlines a330 economy plus seating
Directly behind first class is economy plus seating. Notice the lack of a bulkhead separating the two cabins.
hawaiian airlines a330 first class leg room
The view from the seat seemed spacious and open.
hawaiian airlines a330 first class leg room
Plenty of leg room here! Seems more spacious than Delta or United first class I think…
first class seat entertainment system remote
Just a miscellaneous shot of the entertainment system remote. Nothing fancy here, but I am looking forward to seeing the entertainment options in the new first class product next year.

The rest of the first class passengers slowly trickled in during the entire boarding process, with the flight attendants coming by and offering a choice of three beverages: guava juice, champagne, or a combination of both. I went with straight guava juice – seemed appropriate and in theme to kick off a trip to the islands!

Pre-Departure guava juice
Pre-Departure guava juice
hawaiian airlines a330 cargo san diego
Loading the last of the cargo moments before the boarding door was shut

The window seat next to me remained empty all the way up until the end of the boarding process, and I was actually getting excited about the possibility of moving over into the window seat. That’s what I wanted anyway, but none were available at the time of booking. Alas, it was not meant to be.

A very large (and very friendly) Samoan guy came onboard right at the last moment and claimed it. He later said that he was on his way to visit his family in Samoa, and being the big guy that he is, economy class was simply not an option! He laughed about how uncomfortable flights to Samoa are due to the fact that everyone is (on average) so big…

The flight attendants came through the cabin taking lunch and drink orders, and pushback was right on time. We were off and on our way without delay, and as an added bonus, I discovered that one of the guys I follow on Instagram (@mykingdomphotography) got a great pic of our aircraft rotating out of SAN that morning:

san diego airliner photography by @mykingdomphotography
And we’re off! HUGE thanks to @mykingdomphotography (on Instagram) for capturing the departure this morning. Awesome shot, isn’t it?

Agriculture forms were distributed just after departure, and I was surprised that hot towels were not. It’s not a big deal to me, but that seems like a fairly standard practice for even domestic US first class service. I should note, however, that the hot towels came after dinner – which makes sense I guess. And boy were they hot. Ouch!

Lunch service, as expected, was great. Not as high-quality as something you’d experience in international first class on an Asian airline, but probably some of the best food I’ve ever had on a domestic US flight. Even the service was top-notch. The flight attendants were super friendly, professional, and most importantly: proactive.

They came through the aisles on a regular basis during all phases of the flight checking up on everyone to make sure their drink glasses were filled and everyone was happy.

hawaiian airlines first class menu cover
Western US Cities to HawaI’I First Class Lunch / Dinner menu cover (June- November 2015)
hawaiian airlines first class menu
Menu interior
hawaiian airlines first class appetizer
The appetizer: cheese plate with crackers
hawaiian airlines first class main course
The main course: Braised chicken with tomato, garbanzo, bell pepper, green peas and mashed potatoes
hawaiian airlines first class dessert
The dessert: fresh brownie ( I passed on the whipped cream though)

I passed the time watching Entourage and then episodes of Big Bang Theory. The movie was so-so, but I’m a pretty huge Big Bang Theory fan so that’s never a bad way to kill time in my book.

hawaiian airlines first class entertainment
The personal video screens were of decent size, and are stored in the center arm rest when not in use.
airplane bathroom selfie
Bathroom selfie time! 🙂
hawaiian airlines a330 first class lavatory
There’s not much to note about the first class lavatory, but the flowers were a nice touch.
hawaiian airlines a330 in flight
Getting closer now! Only about 40 minutes to go at this point.

The combination of comfortable seats and top-notch flight attendants made the flight go by in the blink of an eye, and we ended up arriving in Honolulu about 30 minutes early. That was great for vacationers like me, but not so great for my seat mate who was already facing a 3 hour layover before his flight to Samoa.

We chatted for a bit as we landed and pulled into the gate, and yeah…I’m not going to lie when I say that it felt great to step off that airplane and feel that warm tropical air.

N395HA a330
N395HA getting a well-deserved rest in Honolulu after the flight from SAN

Comments (7)

  1. Ke

    January 30, 2016
    • SANspotter

      January 31, 2016
  2. Jason

    March 4, 2017
    • SANspotter

      March 5, 2017
  3. DD

    February 21, 2020
    • SANspotter

      February 21, 2020
      • DD

        March 12, 2020

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