Hawaii Vacation: Hawaiian Airlines 717 Economy Review

This morning we’re flying to Molokai! This will be a new destination for both of us and we are excited to see a new place. From a travel point, I’m excited to try out and review Mokulele Airlines. Mokulele is a new airline and airplane, Cessna 208, for us and I can’t wait.

Getting from Kauai to Molokai isn’t easy, we’ll be first flying to HNL on Hawaiian Airlines 717. I’ll cover the Hawaiian Airlines 717 portion of the trip in this review, next I’ll cover transiting HNL and riding on Mokulele Airline’s Cessna 208 to MKK. The first part of this trip is kinda boring, the second part is much more fun.

This trip was booked as two separate reservations on two different airlines. Because Hawaiian no longer services Molokai and Mokulele no longer services Kauai, we have to make an unprotected connection on Oahu. I’m not a fan of unprotected connections, but in this case we don’t have a choice. Hawaiian Airlines has one of the best on-time records in the country, they also frequently service LIH-HNL so I felt comfortable that we’d be ok, even if our first flight was delayed or cancelled.

If you’d like to check out the differences between the different airlines flying interisland Hawaii flights, here is a guide to all of your options. ​

Anyway, let’s get into the LIH-HNL Hawaiian Airlines economy flight review.

In This Trip

LIH-Lihue Kauai Airport

Welcome back to a wet and rainy Lihu’e airport on an early Tuesday morning. We had been extremely lucky with the weather on Kauai but we woke up on our last morning to rain. Not a big deal.

We dropped off the rental car and headed to the terminal. No checked bags for us today, we travel light, just a carry on and small backpack each. LIH has PreCheck light, so we don’t have to take our shoes off and can leave everything in our bags, but there isn’t a separate line.

After passing through security, we made our way all the way to the end of the terminal, we’re flying out of gate 4 this morning.

It’s been several years since we’ve been to Hawaii or flown Hawaiian. These flights are very short and with the entry of Southwest, there’s some competition on these routes. Our flight this morning was $39/person.

The Lihue airport is classic Hawaii. A mixture of indoor and outdoor space. When flying back to the mainland, you have to pass through an agricultural checkpoint. Because we’re just flying within Hawaii, there’s no check for us.

Sadly we’re leaving Kauai. It’s been such a nice get away and as always, we cannot wait to come back and explore even more of the Garden Island.

This room is the boarding area for gates 3 and 4. Because flights departing for the mainland need agricultural inspection, the Lihue airport is sectioned off into little zones. This way there’s no cross contamination, literally. We found some seats near the end and waited for a few minutes before our departure to HNL.

The sun was just rising over a Hawaiian Airlines 717 waiting at gate 3. This isn’t our plane, today, ours was coming in from HNL.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 LIH Boarding

The Hawaiian 717 that would take us to Honolulu soon arrived at gate 4. This plane had just come in from HNL and would be heading right back. Hawaiian is extremely efficient with turning around these inter-island flights.

We quickly boarded and found our seats in row 19. The plane boarded very quickly, less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Lots of very seasoned travelers this morning.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 boarding door.

I like little touches like this, it doesn’t matter much, but Hawaiian really does feel like a friendly airline.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Economy Seats

These are the Hawaiian 717 economy seats on the 2 seat side of the cabin. The 717 like the MD80/90 and DC9 before it have a 5 abreast seating in economy, for couples the 2 seat side of the cabin is perfect.

It’s been very windy lately, but we’re hoping for a nice smooth flight. The cabin isn’t very crowded today. I’d guess about 2/3 full. Plenty of room for bags in the overhead and space for people to spread out. This was across the aisle from us.

The Hawaiian 717 economy seats are pretty slim and a little tight. Not much of a surprise considering the longest flight within the islands is under an hour. Today our flight is 23 minutes.

The flight attendants passed out and then collected sanitizer wipes. Before they even finished the safety briefing we were pushing back from the gate.

Southwest has a few departures this morning, some going to the mainland and others going to HNL.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Flight Review

After takeoff the flight attendants told us we would get a service on this flight. Hawaiian does an incredible job at getting the whole plane a drink in such a short flight.

Once we were above the clouds it was very smooth flying. It had also turned into a lovely day.

Not a super crowded flight. Also, quiet this morning, with being very early, I get this feeling that most of the other passengers are traveling for work.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Inter-island Economy Service

The options are limited to water, juice, or coffee. I wanted water because I’m boring but Val opted for a juice.

We enjoyed our drinks while watching out at a lovely Hawaiian morning. The little tiny tray tables perfectly match the service.

I put on a podcast and relaxed as we finished our climb. Hawaiian really has these flights down to a science. Fast boarding, quick service, and friendly flight attendants. All on a 23 minute flight.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Honolulu Arrival

The flight attendants immediately passed through the cabin and collected the trash. Oahu came into view and the pilot then made an announcement that we’ll be landing soon and to prepare the cabin.

We soon landed with a great view of pearl harbor off to our left. Sorry about the dirty window.

If you’re flying into HNL, sitting on the left side of the plane will usually give you great views of the island as you pass over. Sorry again about the window.

HNL Airport

Here we are heading to the inter-island terminal at HNL. This terminal is separate from the airport again for agricultural inspection reasons. You can freely walk between here at the over-seas terminal with a quick inspection, more on that later.

Up into the terminal we go. All in, an extremely pleasant experience this early morning.

Final Thoughts

It’s been several years since we’ve been to Hawaii or flown inter-island on Hawaiian. It’s still a great experience. Hawaiian Airlines 717 economy is exactly the service and product needed on these short flights. Everyone involved was extremely friendly and professional.

These flights are very short, some of the shortest in the US. Hawaiian still manages to get a fast beverage service done on a 23 minute flight is great. Southwest also services this route, but not nearly as frequently, in my opinion, Hawaiian just does a better job.

This flight was perfectly on time, this is good for us as we now need to make our way over to the Mokulele Airlines terminal. Because we’re right on time we even have a few minutes to grab a snack and drink here in the main terminal.

Follow This Trip

1: Hawaii Vacation: Delta 717 Economy Review and Delta 757 Economy Review

2: Delta 757-200 Economy Flight Review

3: Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay Review

4: Hawaii Vacation: HNL-MKK Mokulele Airlines Review

5: Hawaii Vacation: Hawaiian Airlines 717 Economy Review

6: Review: Hotel Molokai

7: Mokulele Airlines Review MKK-OGG

8: Southwest Airlines Hawaii Interisland Review: OGG-HNL

9: Review: Holiday Inn Express Kailua-Kona

10: Hawaiian Airlines Interisland: Boeing 717 First Class Review

11: Delta A330-900neo First Class (Delta One Suites) HNL-SEA Review

12: Flight Review: Delta 767-300 First Class (Delta One) SEA-ATL

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