Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class is a little weird, but oh so good!

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class is a little weird, but oh so good!

As you’re about to see, Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class is a little different than all the other US domestic first class products. And that’s a good thing.

You’re likely to notice that the seats aren’t very private. They’re also a little weird looking, and the lack of video screens will probably have you wondering if you made a bad choice.

I can tell you from experience, however, that looks can be deceiving. It’s still the best first class product to and from Hawaii IMHO (despite what any other airline would like you to believe).

Honolulu, HI (HNL) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Aircraft: A330-243
Registration: N390HA
Duration: 4 hours 53 minutes
Seat: 3A (First Class)

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 (N390HA) side view
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 (N390HA) side view illustration by NorebboStock.com.
hal10 flight track
Our route from Honolulu to Los Angeles today as HAL10.

My full review of Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class from Honolulu to Los Angeles

For the record, this wasn’t the first time I had flown Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 class. Check out the following video to see what my first experience was like a few years ago:

I went the opposite direction this time. What you’re about to read is an in-depth review of flight number 10 from Honolulu to Los Angeles – and yes, I would’ve much preferred to fly directly to San Diego instead.

Unfortunately, the usual A330 on the HNL-SAN route had been swapped to an A321 (temporarily) when I needed to take this flight. Los Angeles was my next best option (because A330 > A321).

Arrival at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu

HAL10 was scheduled to depart Honolulu and exactly 8 AM, so I rolled up to the main entrance at 7 feeling like a total boss. Would you believe that was still far too early?

The moral of the story is that you can learn from my mistake, and show up to this airport much later than you can at other airports. I could’ve easily arrived at 7:30 and still made the flight with time to spare.

Honolulu Airport US mainland departures entrance
But what if I don’t want to go home yet? Oh well. I’m here, so let’s just get on with this.
HNL Hawaiian airlines main entrance
Yes, the thought of turning right around and running away from the main entrance here did cross my mind.
Hawaiian airlines check in area Honolulu Airport
Then again, the Hawaiian Airlines check in hall and baggage drop area is always a pleasant place to begin a long journey, and I do need to get content for this review. I can think of much worse places to be (doing far more miserable things). 
SANspotter selfie Hawaiian Airlines departures hall HNL
I mean, somewhere in this world (right this instant) I’m sure there is a underpaid plumber attempting to unclog a toilet with his bare hands. It’s probably a little foolish of me to complain about flying to LA in Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class today.

Lounge access

Flying Hawaiian Airlines domestic first class to the US mainland from HNL will get you into the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club. Honestly, it’s not even worth going into IMHO, and you’re better off finding a quiet spot to hang out in the main terminal instead.

pics of the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Honolulu
Those of you who have read my review of the Honolulu Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Lounge will know to stay away from it. Those that haven’t will learn the hard way.

It should also be noted that first class Hawaiian Airlines passengers traveling internationally have access to a completely different lounge. You’re not gonna get into that one with a ticket to the mainland (or a neighboring island) unfortunately.

Whoa. Concourse A in Terminal 1 at HNL is amazing!

It’s not very often that I’ll dedicate a complete section of an airline review to an airport terminal, but this is justified.

  • On one hand, the all new Concourse A here at HNL looks freaking amazing.
  • On the other hand, it has absolutely none of the charm of the old open air terminal that all of us old-timers know and love about the Honolulu International Airport.
Entrance to A concourse HNL airport
The hell? Since when did HNL start looking like a major international airport?
A concourse interior Honolulu airport
This is cool and all (really impressive actually), but…what happened to the open air concourses?
A concourse gates A8 and A7 and Honolulu Airport
Yeah, it was more than a little shocking to see how drastically things had changed since my last visit. Holy moly. 
Gate A8 Honolulu Airport
Gate A8 is our departure point to LAX today. And I’ll admit that I was sad that there was nobody here telling us that the flight was canceled and that we needed to go back to the beach.
SANspotter looking out window Honolulu Airport
Dang it. There is even an A330-200 parked out there that looks all prepped and ready to go.
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 parked at gate A8 HNL
Said “prepped and ready to go” A330-200.

The boarding process for Hawaiian Airlines flight number 10 to Los Angeles 

Boarding started exactly 7:20 AM (as they said it would). It’s always a bummer to leave Hawaii, but it’s never a bad thing to know that you’re about to be spoiled rotten for the next five hours in Hawaiian Airlines first class.   

The most interesting part of the boarding process was the dedicated agricultural scanning station that everyone must pass through immediately after having your boarding pass scanned. It’s a little different than the way it used to be. 

Hawaiian Airlines mobile first class boarding pass
There’s still time to cancel this flight if they want! I think I’d survive.
HNL gate A8 jet bridge
“At least I’m not unclogging toilets with my bare hands, at least I’m not unclogging toilets with my bare hands…”
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 forward boarding door
And then, suddenly, all was right with the world. Seeing that beautiful Hawaiian Airlines livery up close was all I needed to feel excited about getting to experience one of the best domestic first class seats again. It’s gonna be a good day. 
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 extra comfort seats
Don’t panic! I’m still trudging my way up to first class, and what you see here is not that. BTW, Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 Extra Comfort is a pretty decent “premium” economy product if you can nab one of these seats for a decent price.

My thoughts on the Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class seat

Having already had the chance to try these seats on a flight from San Diego to Honolulu a few years ago, I already knew that they were pretty good. They’re also a heck of a lot better than the old A330 first class seats.

The Hawaiian airlines A330-200 first class seat is unlike anything else that I ever seen on any other airline. I do like the colors and the textures, but I’m not a very big fan of how open and exposed they are. There isn’t very much privacy in these seats.

Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class cabin
There we go. Welcome to what is easily the weirdest (but maybe the best) domestic first class cabin of any US airline.
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class seats
Seats 3A and 3B. I told you it was weird.
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class seat 3A
The window seat is mine today. I give it bonus points for looking like a seat straight out of a 1985 Porsche 911 (brown “leather” and all).
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class window seats
I really like this!
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class pillows and blankets
Yup, pillows and blankets are included (as they should be).
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class foot rest
After all these years, I still don’t understand these overly-complex non-adjustable foot rests. Am I doing this right? I’m tempted to ring the flight attendant call button for clarification…
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class center console between seats
Once you see the screaming face there on the center console, you’ll never unsee it. The “eyes” are actually a really interesting feature though – stay tuned for a full demonstration…
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class seat features
Here’s my lame *** attempt to show you the underseat storage bins, the power outlets, seat recline mechanism, and the reading light. Who says weird can’t be functional?
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class interior
Seriously though – even if you think this first class cabin is ugly as sin, it’s hard not to appreciate the uniqueness of it. Me? I want to give Hawaiian Airlines a double-handed high-five for being so bold. This totally rocks!
Hawaiian Airlines first class breakfast menu
Here’s a preview of the menu for today’s flight. It looks great, but seeing Canadian bacon as part of the offering threw me off a little. What do they serve for lunch? Poutine?
Hawaiian Airlines first class pillow
Filled with Canadian geese feathers, I’m sure.
Hawaiian Airlines first class blanket
Actually, I wouldn’t mind a bit if this blanket was hand woven by an Inuit tribe in the northern Arctic somewhere (people who no doubt know a thing or two about staying warm). I froze my *** off the last time I flew Hawaiian Airlines!
SANspotter selfie Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class
Imagining everything that had to go wrong for the Hawaiian Airlines board to sign off on Canadian bacon instead of pulled pork. That must’ve been a wild meeting!

One last thing to note about these seats: they are nowhere near as comfortable (or private) as what you will find in Hawaiian Airlines 787-9 first class. If total privacy is what you want, try to get a flight on a 787 instead of an A330. 

The departure

Remember in my United Airlines 777-200 business class review where I was complaining about having to leave Hawaii so dang early in the morning? The exact same feeling applies here.

Not only was the weather exactly the same, the scenery on the way to the reef runway was just as beautiful. Yeah, departures from the Honolulu Airport are always spectacular.

Gate A8 jet bridge HNL airport
Jet bridge detached. I was so depressed about leaving Hawaii that it didn’t even occur to me as I was taking this pic that “A8” is a clever long-form spelling of “eight.”
Hawaiian Airlines A330-300 pushing back from gate A8 HNL airport
Pushing back for an on-time A8am departure.
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 parked at gate B5 HNL airport
Looking for a good time? I highly suggest reading my Hawaiian Airlines 717 economy review (which features screaming kids, stunning scenery, and awesome engine views). I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 taxiing out for departure HNL airport
Speaking of screaming kids, there was one seated in 1C that was none too pleased about having to leave Hawaii today. I was quite tempted to join in on her protest of the situation.
View of Waikiki and Diamond Head from HNL airport
One last look at Diamond Head (and the skyline of Waikiki) looming in the distance. “At least I’m not unclogging toilets with my bare hands, at least I’m not unclogging toilets with my bare hands…”
Lining up for departure from reef runway Honolulu airport
Looks like we’re being trailed by a Delta 767-300. How much you wanna bet that Hawaiian pulled pork is on the menu in Delta One this morning?
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 departing reef runway HNL
Be sure to watch the video of the departure (embedded below) to hear how amazing this sounded!
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 departing reef runway Honolulu
One last look at Oahu after departure from HNL airport
In the immortal words of the Terminator: I’ll be back.

In-flight entertainment

First class in-flight entertainment on the Hawaiian Airlines A330 is weird, but good. There are no video screens integrated into the seats. Instead, they hand out giant iPads to everyone which fit into clever holders (built into the center console between the seats).

Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class iPad holder
Remember those “eyes” I showed you earlier? They’re actually very clever retractable holders for the iPads (which the crew will be handing out shortly).
Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class privacy divider
Oh, and good news: there are retractable dividers in these seats as well (which come up from the center console). This definitely helps to make it a more private experience – but it’s not a large enough panel to prevent your seatmate from eavesdropping on your choice of in-flight entertainment.
SANspotter in Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class
Anti social mode: engage!

The selection of movies and TV shows is excellent. It seems to be mostly modern stuff, and unless you’re the pickiest person in the world, you won’t have any issues trying to find something to watch.

Hawaiian Airlines A330 first class adjustable arm for iPad
Voila! These arms are highly adjustable by the way (you can adjust both height and angle). 
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class video entertainment
Oh, calm down. These iPads are loaded with enough excellent content to make you forget about the fact that there are no video screens built into the seats. It’s actually a very nice solution!

Noise canceling headphones decent. I’ve had better, but they certainly weren’t the worst.

Hawaiian airlines a330-200 first class headphones
The noise canceling headphones plug directly into the iPads. I can neither confirm nor deny that (at first) I foolishly tried looking for an audio input in the seat itself.
SANspotter testing noise canceling headphones in Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class
Looks like somebody just found the “soothing sounds of Hawaii” channel.

The food

One thing that makes it worth flying Hawaiian Airlines over any other (at least in first class) is that they actually make an effort to serve Hawaiian-themed cuisine (minus the Canadian bacon stuff you saw on the menu earlier).

The food is slightly above cafeteria quality at best, but the meal they served on this flight to Los Angeles was plenty tasty. I ate every last bite, and I have no shame in admitting it.

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class macadamia nuts pre meal snack
No Canadian nuts today? How disappointing.
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class eggs and Canadian bacon breakfast
Breakfast. It’s not exactly what I imagined it to be, but it doesn’t look all that bad either. I’m going in…
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class scrambled eggs breakfast
Not before getting some sexy closeups of the Canadian bacon first, though.
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class breakfast Honolulu to US mainland
Do you suppose Canada signed off on this?
SANspotter eating breakfast in Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class
I don’t want to speak for Canada, but I can tell you that this earned the coveted SANspotter stamp of approval. It was actually quite good!
Hawaiian Airlines first class fresh fruit
And I don’t even care that this fruit was probably grown in Mexico and processed in a factory in east LA somewhere. It seemed really fresh, and that’s all that really matters.
Hawaiian Airlines first class dessert
Cake for dessert? After breakfast? Yet another reason why Hawaii is the greatest land of all.
Eating cake in Hawaiian Airlines first class
Someone’s a little jealous me thinks.

Testing out the lie flat seats

Because there’s nothing more healthy than lying flat on your back after consuming a gut-busting meal, I wasted no time in whipping out the heavy blanket they provided and putting my seat into a deep state of recline.

I didn’t go fully lie flat, as I wasn’t all that tired – but I can assure you that this would be a very comfortable seat to sleep in on long international flights. As long as you can deal with the lack of privacy, you won’t have any issues.

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class seat and blanket
Yes, I can see everyone (and everyone can see me), but no matter. This is a really comfortable seat for lounging.
SANspotter sleeping in Hawaiian airlines a330-200 first class seat
It’s probably a really good seat for sleeping in as well, but I wouldn’t know. The sugar rush from the cake was no joke!
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class window seat aisle access
Yes – window seat passengers can access the aisle without the person in the aisle seat having to move, but it will be awkward at times (especially with the iPads in place).
Hawaiian Airlines first class drinks
Sigh. Staying properly hydrated means awkward interactions with your seatmate (as you climb over them) to use the lavatory. Bottoms up I guess! Both figuratively and literally lol…
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class lavatory
Speaking of the lavatory…it’s a nice place to hide in shame after an awkward encounter with your seatmate as you stumbled over them just now. The flowers are a nice touch!

A few words about the cabin service for the second half of the flight

One of the other things that I’ve always liked about flying Hawaiian Airlines first class is how well the flight attendants take care of everyone during the course of the flight. My glass of water was never more than half empty the entire time, and the flight attendants were constantly coming through the aisles offering snacks to anyone feeling a little hungry.

Hawaiian Airlines first class pre landing snack
As you saw in my Hawaiian Airlines A321neo first class review, they used to serve potato chips as the pre landing snack. Those were the days.

Although these first class seats aren’t as good as what some of the other airlines are offering, it’s the onboard service which makes flying Hawaiian Airlines first class to and from Hawaii so darn good.

The descent and arrival into Los Angeles

Unfortunately, it’s true. All good things must come to an end, and I got my first glimpse of the coast of California much sooner than I had hoped to.

Southern California coast
Land! (That’s not me being bossy – I’m just reporting what I see). 
Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class cabin prepared for landing
The cabin is prepared. Let’s do this.

We approached LAX from the south, making landfall just south of Long Beach and then making a wide left-hand suite in turn to line up with runway 25L.

Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 flying over Long Beach
Looks like we’re setting up for a south side arrival into LAX this afternoon. That’s Long Beach down there, so…25L is is then!
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 lining up for 25L approach LAX
Damn I’m good. Can’t say that I wasn’t tempted to knock on the cockpit door and ask if they needed any help on the way in. 
Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 landing 25L LAX
I know. They’d surely kick me out as soon a I started spewing off classic Top Gun quotes such as “you’re a little low Cougar, pull up!”
Hawaiian Airlines gates LAX
Welcome to LAX – as well as the new home for Hawaiian Airlines here (the farthest west end of the Tom Bradley International Terminal).

Note: Hawaiian Airlines has moved to the far west end of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. This is inconvenient in my opinion, as it requires one heck of a long walk back to the main terminal. Oh well. At least I was in a good mood from yet another really awesome flight in Hawaiian A330 first class.

Hawaiian Airlines a330-300 first class cabin arrival at LAX
The seatbelt sign was turned off 10 seconds ago, and not surprisingly, nobody seems all that eager to end their Hawaiian vacation.
Hawaiian Airlines a330-300 first class seat after long flight
The truth is I’m not all that eager either.
SANspotter carry on bag Hawaiian Airlines a330-200 first class
Curious about what’s in my bag? Thanks to that very thorough agricultural inspection back at HNL before boarding this flight, I can promise you that I’m not smuggling pineapples and flowers today. Dirty socks and underwear yes, but definitely no pineapples and flowers.
SANspotter walking off Hawaiian Airlines flight
That moment when you realize how long of a walk it’s going to be back to the main terminal. Hawaiian Airlines got the short end of the stick with these new gate assignments here at LAX!

Pros and cons of flying first class on the Hawaiian Airlines A330-200

I’m just gonna come right out and say it: this is a darn good premium seat for a flight to and from Hawaii. The service is excellent. The seat is kind of so-so.


  • It’s one of the most unique looking first class products you’ll ever fly. I qualify this is a “pro” because of how comfortable it is.
  • The quality of the in-flight entertainment is quite good.
  • Even the window seat passengers don’t have direct aisle access, there’s so much space between the seats that it’s extremely easy to step over / around the person in the aisle seat (even if they’re sleeping).
  • It’s a relatively small first class cabin, so you won’t have to wait long to be served food and drinks if you’re seated in the last row.


  • There are only three rows of first class seats on the Hawaiian A330-200 (18 seats total), so there’s not a lot to go around. Book early if you want a good seat!
  • The lack of privacy in the seats is borderline awkward. Thank God for the retractable divider, because otherwise, you’d get to know your seatmate quite well (whether you like it or not).
  • The lack of integrated video screens in the seats makes in-flight entertainment a somewhat clumsy experience.

Comments (7)

  1. Peter

    March 2, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 2, 2023
  2. Peter

    March 3, 2023
  3. MsJan

    March 4, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 4, 2023
  4. Diane

    March 9, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      March 9, 2023

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