Right plane, right size, right mission. Hit the trifecta and — if you’re an airplane — you’ve earned a fruitful career in your airline’s fleet. Hawaiian Airlines has been flying for a mind-blowing 90 years, and for most if its recent past it’s had two sides to its fleet: big double-aisle aircraft like the Airbus A330 and Boeing 767 (recently retired) for long-haul flights to the Hawaiian islands, and smaller single-aisle planes for short hops between the islands.
But over the past few years, led by the U.S. legacy airlines, Alaska, and (most recently) Southwest, we’ve seen an explosion of a new middle market: extended-operations-certified narrow-body (AKA single-aisle) planes connecting the West Coast and the Hawaiian Islands. A lot of those flights hit secondary markets other than Honolulu, like Maui, Kauai, and the big island.
Hawaiian Airlines wanted to get in on that game, and they picked the Airbus A321neo to do it. The fuel-efficient next-gen narrowbody kicked off service with Hawaiian in early 2018, featuring a new premium cabin seat designed for medium-haul flights. And on a recent flight from Oakland to Maui, we put Hawaiian’s newest plane and seat to the test.
Read on as we say aloha to the Hawaiian Airlines A321neo!
When my girlfriend Molly and I first started planning our trip to Australia, I was skeptical that we would find any award availability in a premium cabin. With flights from the west coast to Australia averaging 15+ hours, premium cabin awards are extremely difficult to find, especially for more than one seat. During the several weeks that I searched, I rarely found any coach availability on desirable flights, and no premium cabin award space at all. Finally, one fateful Saturday afternoon, I hit the jackpot. I found two seats in First Class on Qantas, using Alaska Airlines miles. Score!
We didn’t actually get to fly a United 757, but we did get to see one, so that was cool
I hear from family and friends (even strangers) all the time how they no longer like flying. It is much more stressful, the respect is gone, and the golden age has long expired. For sure, air travel has changed. It has become cheaper, much safer, and yes, more annoying. It can be a challenge for even a pro to get through an economy experience with a big smile. However, if you are one who flies with some (or a lot of) anxiety, the current flying experience can be terrifying. I don’t mean the flying at 35,000 feet in the air, but the smaller worries that can add up to one big worrisome mess.
Most people who meet me typically sees someone with an outgoing type A personality with little anxiety with flying. Sure, I have had quite a bit of experience, but when I was younger, it was very difficult for me — and sometimes, it still is. I would sweat, I would dry-heave, and I would fear the process of travel, but still loved flying.
Driving to Hana in a Jeep was SUPER cool, and lots of anxiety!
Maui is great
I have improved my process for dealing with my anxiety, and flying has become much easier for me. I have been wanting to write a story about flying with anxiety for a while, but it seemed challenging for me to be effective with it, so it has been sitting in the “David Story Idea Bin” (man, some of the scraps in there…) Recently, my fiancé Brittany (we recently got engaged, yay us!) and I were set to fly from Seattle (SEA) to Maui (OGG) via San Fran (SFO) on United Airlines. We have been together for a while and done quite a few flying adventures. I know she has that sort of travel anxiety that I used to have, but loves to actually fly (I know, great catch right?).
I thought this trip might be a good opportunity to look at how flying with anxiety can be challenging and how one can make it better. Over and over again, I kept going back to how being able to pay your way out of anxiety can be a great option for some people! What better way to do that than to fly first class? Would the extra extra cost be worth the reduction of anxiety? If so, where is that tipping point? Keep reading to see what we both found.
JetBlue’s Mint seating is available on certain A321s.
In the premium transcontinental game Seattle doesn’t get much attention, but things are about to change with the introduction of jetBlue’s Mint product. While the premium experience might not be the first of its type in the U.S. market, it does give Seattle a true shot at giving passengers something better than a traditional domestic first class seat for those five-to-six hour transcontinental flights.
In preparation for jetBlue’s recent inaugural flight from Seattle (SEA) to Boston (BOS), we were able to give their Mint seats a proper test-sit in the name of journalistic thoroughness.
JetBlue loves to name it’s jets, too. This one is called “One Mint, Two Mint, Blue Mint, You Mint.”
The seats recline to 6’8″ — jetBlue says that makes them the longest lie-flat domestic seats in the biz. Perks of the new service include gate-to-gate Fly-Fi WiFi, an extended slate of in-flight entertainment options on a 15″ seatback screen, fancy headphones, and even fancier meals from a menu that changes monthly.