Hawaiian Airlines Interisland: Boeing 717 First Class Review

Leaving Hawaii is always a sad day. We had an amazing last day and all good things must come to an end. Today we’re flying on and reviewing Hawaiian Airlines 717 in First Class.

Getting to Greenville SC from KOA isn’t easy, on Delta it’s an assured 3 flights. Due to how this trip was planned, we’re flying 4 flights today/tomorrow. The first is on Hawaiian to Honolulu. Today we’re flying in Hawaiian First Class. I’d never usually pay for First Class on such a short flight, but because of a cancelled previous trip we had a good amount of Hawaiian Airlines E-credit to use and we don’t live in Hawaii so I might as well burn it.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class on the 717 is standard recliner seating, much like you would find on any other domestic flight. Today we’re also departing from KOA and this is one of my favorite airports ever. Zero jet bridges and not only that, but nearly the whole airport is outside. From check-in, through security, and to the gate area is completely outdoors.

On this trip we’re connecting to Delta and we’ll be making an unprotected connection in Honolulu. I’m not a huge fan of unprotected connections, although I’ve obviously had several on this vacation, it’s not my favorite. Today is one of those unprotected layovers. Fortunately connecting in HNL is easy and I’ll show the connection process at HNL from the inter-island terminal to the overseas terminal.

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.

Let’s get into it.

In This Trip

Kona International Airport-KOA Airport

KOA Airport

Welcome to KOA airport on a Monday Evening. We dropped off our rental Jeep and headed for the terminal. I absolutely love the KOA airport all outdoors and easy to navigate, what more is there to want.

KOA Airport Hawaiian Airlines Check In

We walked to the Hawaiian Airlines counter and tried to check in on the kiosks, unfortunately it wouldn’t let us so we walked to the counter. There was an issue with our ticket that was related to the re-issuing of our E-Credit, that was soon sorted out and we were ready to go.

KOA Airport Security

We headed over to the completely empty security area.

KOA Airport Terminal

This isn’t a large airport, only 10 gates and we’re flying out of Gate 9 tonight. There’s also a good bit of construction going on at the terminal so some areas are blocked off.

KOA Airport Terminal

We headed for the gate, empty airport tonight. There are a few little shops and news stands at the airport. Nothing that you wouldn’t expect at an airport, but here at KOA, everything is outside.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Boarding Gate KOA

This is the gate waiting area here at KOA and that little gated hut is the boarding gate. How great is this airport. While there aren’t charging ports at the benches, there are charging areas with little shelves for devices on many of the pillars.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 at KOA at sunset

While waiting at the gate, we got some amazing sunset views over a Hawaiian 717 waiting to take us to HNL.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 First Class Boarding KOA

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Koa Boarding

Just a few minutes after sunset it was time to board our Hawaiian Airlines flight down to HNL. We’re in First Class for this flight and we’re allowed to board at the beginning of the process. We didn’t jump up and board first, but we did board somewhere in the middle of the process.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Koa Boarding

This is another reason to love KOA, no jet bridges. All boarding here is done via ramps or stairs.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Koa Boarding

Even this big Delta 757-300 is boarded via stairs. The funny part is the Delta 757 is going to Seattle in a few hours, same as us, but we have an additional stop. Originally we were going to spend some time on Oahu, but decided to stay longer on Kauai and the Big Island. Because of that we already had tickets home from HNL and didn’t want to change them so we just booked this un-protected connection.

Because of the separate ticket, I booked a 3 hour connection. There’s also 2 more flights this evening to HNL from KOA that could be our absolute backup plan. Hawaiian is very punctual so I’m not worried, but it’s always something to consider.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Koa Boarding

It’s just after sunset but get’s dark very quickly out here in Hawaii. This is the start of a long day of flying. We boarded very quickly, Hawaiian does a very good job of turning these interisland flights around quickly.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Seats

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Seats

We’re in first class tonight. I had a good amount of value in an unused ticket and wanted to just burn it all. We don’t fly Hawaiian very often so I’d rather spend it all. This flight was very inexpensive anyway even in first. Obviously I wouldn’t pay for first on a flight this short, just not worth the effort.

The First Class Seats on Hawaiian’s 717s are standard recliners. There are 8 seats in total spread across 2 rows of 4.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Seats Legroom

Lots of leg room in these seats, even with my backpack under the seat in front of me.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Overhead Panel

All very standard things here in Hawaiian First Class. The overhead panel does have the nice higher flow vents.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Seats

A neat little feature is these Hawaiian seats have an extendable drink table. Very old school and I love it.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Service

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class KOA Take off

We pushed back as the flight attendants gave their safety presentation. I’m a little excited as I’ve never flown first class on Hawaiian. I’m really not expecting anything, it’s a 30 minute flight.

The flight attendant serving first class was very friendly, she came around and asked if we wanted a drink after we are airborne. I just wanted a water and Val asked for POG juice. Alcoholic drinks are offered, but I’m not really in the mood.

We then began our taxi out to the runway. Taking off to the south today. The flight attendants then dimmed the lights and I sat back and relaxed, I’m hoping to get some views of the other islands, but it’s dark and I’m not sure we’ll have a good view.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Drink Service

After we took off, we passed through a few clouds and made the turn to Oahu. The flight attendant then made another announcement about having a brief beverage service and that they would be coming through the aisle.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Snacks

The flight attendants then distributed our choice of beverages and a small snack bag. It’s pretty great service for such a short flight. A few minutes later they offered a second round of drinks, we declined and finished our snacks.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 Night View

We could see a few lights down on the islands below, but nothing spectacular. These routes in the day have fantastic sight seeing opportunities.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Cabin

They soon came through to collect trash and issued the landing announcement. I could feel we were descending and looking out the window and seeing some more lights down on Oahu.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 First Class Landing HNL

Landing at HNL

After our quick 30 minute flight, we landed into Honolulu. For the second time on this trip, we’re making an un-protected connection here in HNL. Both occasions we’ve been right on time, Hawaiian Airlines has the best on-time record of any domestic US airline.

HNL airport Terminal 1 Hawaiian Airlines 717

We arrived to the Inter-island Terminal here at HNL. This part of the airport is separated from the over-seas terminal due to agricultural checks. To get between the two we’ll need to have our bags scanned again.

Connecting at HNL Inter-Island to Over-Seas Terminals

HNL airport Terminal 1 Arrival

We arrived into the Inter-Island Terminal here at HNL from our Hawaiian Airlines flight from KOA. This is Terminal 1 and handles all of the Hawaii flying for Hawaiian Airlines.

HNL airport Terminal 1

We’re heading to Terminal 2, E gates. There are 2 ways to make this transfer here at HNL, we can take the Wiki-Wiki shuttle or we can walk. For B and C gates, I’d probably just walk, but Delta Uses E so today we’ll use the Wiki-Wiki bus.

HNL airport Wiki Wiki Shuttle Bus stop Terminal 1

Here’s an interesting fact, the Wiki-Wiki buses drive on the roof of the buildings. So to get to the shuttle bus, you take an escalator up.

HNL Airport Terminal Transfer

Upstairs, we passed through the agricultural inspection process and there’s a small waiting room for the Wiki-Wiki shuttle. We told the attendant what flight we are on and we were told what stop we needed. There’s also screens that show the various flights and what gates/stops to use.

HNL airport Wiki Wiki Shuttle Bus stop Terminal 1

I don’t think I’ve seen a bank of working pay phones in a while.

HNL Airport WIKI WIKI shuttle

Onto our Wiki-Wiki shuttle over to Terminal 2 and the E Gates. We were the only people on the shuttle this particular evening. It is funny to be driving on top of the buildings.

HNL airport Wiki Wiki Shuttle Bus

We arrived into the E Gates with no other stops. Since we were the only ones on the Wiki-Wiki, the driver took us right to our destination.

HNL airport Terminal 2 Wiki Wiki Stop

Here’s the arrival/departure area for the D, E, and F gates. This is another outdoor space that feels indoors, the whole airport is like that. Lots of outdoor space blended with indoor areas.

HNL airport Terminal 2

Down the stairs again and we are into Terminal 2. It’s getting into the evening so lots of the shops are closed for the night, others are still closed due to Covid. With the lack of international tourists, the high end stores don’t have much traffic.

Final Thoughts

Hawaiian Airlines First Class on the 717 is a standard recliner seat, much like you’d find on any domestic first class trip. Hawaiian service is excellent though, the flight attendants were extremely friendly and professional. The fact that we got a drink service and a refill offer during a 30 minute flight is amazing.

The seats feel very old school, nice and comfortable and the 717 is extremely quiet in the front of the cabin. Much like the MD88/90 of old, I love the T-tail and it’s nice to see them flying around Hawaii on these inter-island flights.

I love KOA airport. It’s easy to navigate, has no jet bridges, and all of the terminal is outdoors. I cannot wait to come back, perhaps arriving into KOA from the main land. That’s particularly fun, who doesn’t love walking down the stairs on a 757.

HNL is easy to navigate, even when connecting between two different airlines the whole process doesn’t take that long. We gave ourselves plenty of time, just in case anything goes wrong. Today we’re right on time so we’ll be stopping by the gardens and Skyclub before our flight to Seattle. We’ll cover that portion of the trip in the next installment.

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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