Note: This is a trip report from my first trip to Hawaii. The trip was during the summer of 2016, but I had lost the photos until a few weeks ago. I thought it would be cool to share my experiences, and hopefully have people comment on how service has changed/improved since I took this trip! Let me know if you have taken the flight recently!
American Business Class to Hawaii Bottom Line
American offers a modestly improved product on its flights from Dallas to Hawaii. I was underwhelmed by the soft product. Their flight from Dallas is the only flight that offers lie-flat seats. When I took the flight, the aircraft was swapped last minute for an older 767 (something that happened very often). This 767 had angled seats, which were not as comfortable, but are much better than their A321s that fly from LAX.
The Good: Tropical themes everywhere. You knew you were going to Hawaii as soon as you boarded the aircraft.
The Bad: Uninspiring food, limited IFE via the tablet.
The Noteworthy: Aircraft was put to pasture a few months after my flight. This was my last trip to American’s older angled flat seats.
Arrival at DFW
I had flown in from Houston the same morning of my flight. Nothing special, the usual service on their Hobby-Dallas sector on a CRJ-900. I had a short connection time, so I had to hustle to make it to the gate before boarding began. American Eagle flights arrived at Terminal B, while this flight left from Terminal C. By the time I was at the gate, agents were boarding people who required special assistance.
Airline: American Airlines
Cabin: Business Class
Aircraft: 767-300ER [now flown by a 777]
Flight Number: AA 5
Cabin and Seat
American’s old 767 cabins were arranged in a 2x2x2 configuration. There were five rows with a total of 30 seats. Waiting at each seat were a packaged pillow and blanket. Each seat reclines to an angled flatbed seat. The angle is fairly noticeable, but I personally did not mind. Each seat is equipped with a drop-down table from the back of the seat in front of you to put in the tablet-based IFE. Seat controls are in the center console and are easy to use. They even have a memory function for your preferred seat angle.
The cabin felt dated, not just because of the seats, but the overhead lighting seemed pulled from a 1980s aircraft. Each seat has a DC power outlet, for which the FAs had a few converters. The converters heat up, and if you are using a Mac, it could overheat the converter. It happened to me twice.
Departure and Take Off
While boarding continued, Hawaiian themed music played. On the overhead monitors, you could watch a video about the Hawaiian natural landscape that went well with the music. You knew you were going to Hawaii as soon as you board. During boarding, the FAs came by with water, orange juice, or sparkling wine. I ordered the juice and water; my seatmate ordered the sparkling wine. His face when he drank it told me it was terrible.
Doors were closed a little bit late to wait for some last-minute passengers. Once we were ready to push back, the flight attendants came by the cabin to offer us Bose Noise-canceling headphones. They said tablets would be handed out soon after take off.
We taxied quickly to the runway, and departed to Hawaii!
I usually begin by describing the meals onboard flights, but I wanted to make this a point of this review. This flight was in 2016; you would expect American to realize how impractical the process of tablets is since then! When AA refurbished their 767s, they did not add IFE screens to any cabin. This makes their 767s not only the worst aircraft in their fleet but also makes them the worst 767s in the US. Delta and United offer IFE in business class and economy (except for some old UA airframes, which I believe will get them with the Polaris retrofit).
The tablet was Android-based, likely a Galaxy Tab. It had about ⅔ of what the normal IFE screens have in terms of content. The biggest missing item, and not accounted for in the previous fraction, is the moving map. American had the moving map on for about 20 minutes after departure, and for 20 minutes before arrival. I love to watch the moving map, and this makes my experience with AA’s 767s a lot worse.
American had simple menus for their Hawaii flights. There are only two options for lunch, the same number of options as in domestic first class. If anyone has taken this flight recently, please tell me that American has improved the number of options. It was sad that there were only two options to pick from, from the entire menu. The menu read as follows:
The meal started with the usual drinks and warm nuts. The nut mix is different for Hawaii, as it has dried pineapple, macadamia nuts, and another candied nut which I couldn’t name. This made the flight a little bit distinct from your usual domestic flights.
This was followed by a crab dip appetizer and a salad. The salad was larger than what you sometimes get in international business class flights on AA. The appetizer was small but surprisingly good.
For my entree, I ordered the gnocchi. The sauce was greasy, somewhat flavorless, and just weird. The gnocchi themselves were not better than what you get in domestic first-class as a pasta meal.
For dessert, I ordered the sundae. It’s hard to beat a good sundae, and pretty hard to mess it up. Those, along with the crab appetizer, were the highlights of the meal.
Before arrival, on a flight that covers more distance than Dublin, Manchester, and even London to New York, they served a snack. If you can call the cheese plate a snack, then good for you. For me, this was a pathetic excuse for a second meal. There were two, TWO, slices of cheese. Some crackers and fruit rounded up the meal. This is 100% unacceptable. After being so long on an airplane you get hungry. By the time I arrived at my hotel in Honolulu, I was starving.
The seats are angled flat, but they are substantially more comfortable than the other aircraft that fly to Hawaii. American flies their 757s with weird recliners to Hawaii from Phoenix, here is a review of those seats. They used to fly worse 757s, to compare all the seats, see here.
The angle was not too bad, and I was able to sleep for a solid 4 hours.
Landing and Arrival
After the second meal, I slept for a bit longer. When I woke up, we were getting ready for arrival. The flight attendants came by offering everyone a mint and thanking them for flying American. Views before the arrival of the vast ocean were beautiful.
When we landed, we taxied to the gate and got to see some of the interesting traffic at Honolulu. We were quickly at the gate, and hungry me was headed for a weekend in Hawaii.
American does distinguish their Hawaii flights from their longer domestic flights by offering a menu and specialty mixed nuts. I understand that Hawaii is a leisure market. However, it does not justify having a poor meal service. The second meal was barely even a snack. I would overhaul their service, and provide two appetizer options and a heartier meal before landing. I know the flight is now flown by a 777, which has wifi and IFE screens, so those concerns are gone. I was overall disappointed by things that can be easily remedied. Hopefully, they have since addressed these issues and provide a truly competitive product.
What do you think? Have you ever flown to Hawaii on AA? How was your experience? Did it differ a lot from mine? Do more recent flights improve on this experience? Let us know!