Hawaiian Airlines offers a first-class cabin on inter-island flights between Hawaiian Islands. It’s easy to get a first-class fare for a fraction of the price of economy class if you plan ahead. This will allow you to get a set of inclusions that is almost as good as getting first class free.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Honolulu & Maui, Hawaii, United States of America. Fairmont President’s Club and Alaska Mileage Plan were used to redeem this trip. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. This index contains information about other aspects of the trip.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.




“Hawaiian Airlines First Class is the only real way to get around the islands with inclusions such as Priority Boarding, included Checked Baggage Allowance and Complimentary Hawaiian Airlines Premier Lounge Access “

Hawaiian Airlines

First Class

HA 398 – First Class (F)

HNL-OGG (Honolulu International Airport – Kahului International Airport)

January 9, 2016

Booked: Boeing 717

Flown: Boeing 717-2

Departure: 12: 50 PM

Arrival: 1: 33 PM

We ended up purchasing first class outright on this leg as the premium was only about $25 per ticket after you added up the ancillary charges of a checked bag. We credited to AAdvantage frequent flier program and the points did turn up approximately 30 days after the flight.

We ended up leaving the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Honolulu for boarding at Gate B5.

Honolulu Gate B5
Priority Boarding for Everyone!

Hawaiian Airlines operates a fleet of twenty Boeing 717-200 twin engine jet aircraft for its regional island hop flights between the Hawaiian Islands. They are a quirky aircraft originally designed as a McDonnell Douglas MD-95, eventually marketed as a Boeing 717 when Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997. There are less than 150 Boeing 717’s in operation in the world, with the primary users being Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines and Qantas Airlink.

The Unusual Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717

On Board Hawaiian Airlines First Class:

When it was time to board, there were first class boardings. First class was actually boarded first.

The Hawaiian Airlines First Class cabin is a small two-row first class cabin with eight seats in a 2-2 configuration.

Hawaiian Airlines B717-2 First Class
Hawaiian Airlines B717-2 First Class Cabin

The seats on the Hawaiian First Class section are somewhat tighter than the regular barca lounger style seats found on Boeing 737 or Airbus 320 series aircraft. They are still better than the standard blocked middle economy seats on narrow-body intra European aircraft.

The seats are quite compact, and the bolts can be positioned upright when in an upright position. It was the “straight up” seating that made me feel like I was being disciplined in school.

If you’re travelling with hand luggage, you should board before the flight. We appreciated the Priority Boarding as the Boeing 717’s are really tight on bin space in the First Class Section. One suitcase is allowed per bin.

Limited First Class Bin Space

The Hawaiian Airlines First Class Cabin’s small size means it isn’t very spacious or elegant. It also lacks any branding or other colorful accents. Instead, it has a plain bulkhead wall.

The Plain Atmosphere of the Hawaiian Airlines First Class Cabin

There was not enough space to hold three rolls in the front cabin. You should get there early if you plan on traveling with a rollie, like I do. We had to stick MrsWT73’s rollie behind the curtain above row 4 in economy class.

As we settled in, the pilot or first officer was testing the automatic warning message system. It was actually quite funny, breaking up the monotonous cabin preparations. The bulkhead was not decorated with sandals. Instead, it featured a Hawaiian-themed “Mahalo” design.

A No Sandal Zone

Departing Honolulu International Airport:

There were nice views of the Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines aircrafts today. Unfortunately, photographs were not possible due to the filthy windows.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus 330’s at HNL
Japan Airlines B767’s at HNL

The drink order was made while we were still on the ground. Today we had Mai Tai’s. Red and white wine were also available, as well as generic beers (Heineken, etc.) and the usual soda pops. Pre-departure announcements made it clear that alcoholic beverages and beers could be purchased in economy.

The “In Flight” Service: A Complimentary Mai Tai

We were able to take off quickly and enjoy some amazing island spotting views along the way.

Departing from the Coral Runway at HNL

Our Mai Tai’s were served with ice once we reached our cruising altitude.

Hawaiian Airlines Mai Tai’s

It was a quick flight with some island spotting.

Hawaiian Coast Line Views

We barely had time to refill our drinks as we descend on our lovely approach into Kahuliui. Maui

On Approach into Maui
A Sister Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717-2 at OGG

My Thoughts on Hawaiian Airlines First Class Inter Island Service:

Overall, it was pleasant inter-island flight. Hawaiian Airlines does not offer the same level of service as a wide-body flight. There was very little difference in the economy and first class fares. This difference covered all our ancillary expenses, including checked baggage. So, the Hawaiian Airlines First Class option is the best I could recommend as long as there’s a minimal price difference.


If you’ve flown inter island on Hawaiian Airlines First Class, did you find the price premium worth all the extra inclusions?