Flying Hawaiian Airlines long-haul with kids

Family Flying Airline Review Hawaiian Airlines

We welcome to the blog today Keri Baugh from Bon Voyage with Kids to talk about her recent experience flying Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu, Hawaii (island of Oahu) to Boston

In August 2019, we flew one of Hawaiian Airlines’ newest routes – a direct long-haul flight from Honolulu, Hawaii (Island of Oahu) to Boston, MA.   It was a non-stop, approximately 9 hour and 45-minute, overnight flight.

Since spring 2019, Hawaiian Airlines has been running five-day per week, non-stop direct flights between Boston and Honolulu. They travel every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

This post is part of our Family Airline Review series – pop on over and see all of our flying with kids articles

The Challenge Of Getting To Hawaii

As a family who travels to Hawaii annually each August from the East Coast of the USA, we are a bit unusual. While there is certainly a subset of East Coasters who trek their way to our 50th state, few do it regularly, with kids in tow.

It is far away for us – often a 12+ hour journey if you fly straight. But, because of our love of the Hawaiian Islands, we have made this trip each year since our oldest son was 2 years old. 

Looking to get between Hawaii’s Islands? Check out this guide to Hawaii Island Hopping

Why Hawaiian Airlines?

Whenever possible, we love to fly Hawaiian Airlines because, let’s face it, you want to feel that spirit of Aloha as soon as possible. With Hawaiian Airlines, you certainly do, from the moment you set foot on the plane – sometimes as early as check-in.

Whether it’s the clothing of the flight attendants – often in tropical Hawaiian shirts with plumerias behind their ears – or their pleasantness, you already start to feel that legendary warmth of Hawaiian culture. Add to that the videos on the screens as your board, showing glorious waterfalls and picturesque scenes, and the Hawaiian Music playing overhead. 

They even give you one of my favorite treats – a cookie from the Honolulu Cookie Company. The spirit of Aloha is very present with this airline.

See what it’s like to fly Business Class with Hawaiian here.

Why This Long-Haul Route From Honolulu to Boston?

Hawaii is so worth visiting, but it is hard to get to from Boston. We have tried every flight combination and many different airlines to get from Boston to Hawaii and back again over the years.  We have tried:

  • Connecting in the mid-west then on to one of the islands.
  • Connecting in California with two back to back flights going straight through (don’t recommend this.)
  • Connecting from the West Coast with a one-night or few-day stopover.
  • For the return, we often make our way on an overnight flight from one of the islands to San Francisco. We then take a second overnight flight to Boston!
  • One year, when a hurricane hit the East Coast of the United States, we took an overnight flight to Chicago and then DROVE to Boston for 11 hours, with a toddler.

So, the possibility to just do ONE long-haul overnight flight, where potentially the kids could get several hours of sleep, seemed like it was worth the try.

Booking Process and Seating with Hawaiian Airlines

The online booking process is very straight forward, with four price options.  They even have a “compare” feature to help you see the differences in comfort, space, and amenities.

 The least expensive option is Main Cabin Basic, which means you book without reserving your seats.  The downside to this is you could end up anywhere on the plane or get bumped if it is oversold. The other booking options are Economy, Extra Comfort, and First Class.

Our Seating Choice on Hawaiian

We chose the Extra Comfort seat because of the need to sleep (to the extent that you can on an overnight flight.) Unless you have one of the lie-flat seats in First Class, you are never fully comfortable on an overnight flight, but the extra legroom was some help.

The plane configuration was two, four, two, and two aisles. We were in the first section behind First Class. We put two on the side and across had three of us and a stranger in the middle section.

I didn’t notice any “bad seats,” but I am never a fan of the way back of the plane.  There were lavatories in a few spots on the plane, so the lines were never too long.

Hawaiian Airlines service is a bit more old-fashioned. So, sitting in the back of the plane can often mean missing out on your meal choice.

Luggage on Hawaiian

For luggage allowance, there is a fee for Main Cabin Basic, Economy, and Extra Comfort, but First Class offers you two free bags. All sections allow for one carry-on and one personal item, as long as they fit into the overhead and underneath the seat, respectively. 

The bad news is Hawaiian airlines charges for checked baggage, except for First Class passengers, and is it is expensive. Your first checked bag is $30 USD, second is $40 USD, and third and beyond is $100 USD each! This is for bags that are no bigger than 62 linear inches and 50 pounds in weight. So, as a family of five, we each have a suitcase making our total $150 USD for our checked bags.

The good news is kid-related items, like car seats and strollers, are free. We checked a bag with our car seats free of charge. If your child is a ticketed passenger, they also get to bring on a carry-on and a personal item like all ticketed passengers, so think about taking advantage of that to avoid the hefty bag-check charge.

Honolulu Airport

Honolulu airport has more amenities than the other island airports, but not nearly as much as the bigger city airports in the United States. We had flown in from Maui, so there wasn’t much time for meandering.

There are several options for restaurants or quick service, and a couple of big souvenir stores for last-minute shopping. Beyond that, it is fairly basic, so I recommend spending limited time there.

Hawaiian Airlines Service

Service on the Honolulu to Boston flight was great. As I mentioned, it feels like the service of days gone by in the airline industry.  We were greeted with pillows blankets on our seats (all of the seats have them for the long-haul flights!)

The flight attendants had plenty of Aloha to offer. They were strict with safety-related procedures and passenger courtesy, like putting your seats up for dining and unplugging earphones on take-off and departure.  But, I don’t mind that -it’s their job to keep us safe. 

The flight attendants were very helpful and friendly.  Notably, there were enough flight attendants to make snack, meal, and drink deliveries and clean up quick and very efficient.

See why Hawaiian is one of the best US Domestic airlines to fly with.

Amenities and Entertainment

The seatbacks had a variety of movies and TV shows to choose from, including some new releases. Some of the movies were outdated.  But there was enough choice for us to make it work, plus it was an overnight flight, so we slept.

There is also keiki (which means “kid” in Hawaiian) programming, with kid shows, movies and games.

Each seat has a USB port for charging.

Food on Hawaiian Airlines

Service began quickly as soon as it was safe to do so, it and began with a tropical drink and “party mix” snack.  Dinner was soon to follow, and while it wasn’t as fancy as I have had on international flights, it was more than a snack box. And, I appreciated it was included. Prior to arrival, another snack was served.

There wasn’t an option to order a keiki meal. But the pasta was one of the meal choices, and that worked for our kids.

Meals on Hawaiian Airlines

Their food and drink offerings are inspired by Hawaiian flavors, so there are some offerings on the tray that are different than one might be accustomed to.

Dinner was followed with a coffee/tea service, and alcohol was available for purchase. They also offer some options unique to Hawaii, like Hawaiian juices and Maui Brewing Company beer for purchase. The best part? They give a Honolulu Cookie Co. cookie as a mid-flight treat!

In between services, we could help ourselves to water as needed. The flight attendants also circled from time to time offering water.

Frequent Flyer Points with Hawaiian

We do not have frequent-flyer miles with Hawaiian Airlines. But they are partners with Jet Blue, so we took our points through them. We get more benefit from the Jet Blue points.

Sleeping overnight on Hawaiian Airlines

Sleeping while sitting straight up is never easy to do. My kids seem to be able to sleep anywhere and they tend to stretch their limbs in every direction, giving me less space. 

That said, I did manage to get some sleep on this overnight flight, with the help of an eye mask and wrapping myself in the complimentary blanket.  It wasn’t great sleep and I was leaning my head on the headrest, so I was sitting in an awkward position.

But, having the longer flight allowed me to fall asleep for a few hours. When we have taken back to back flights, I tend to fall asleep only about an hour before we land. With a longer flight, I was able to get a longer stretch.

Hawaiian’s Punctuality & Connections

Our original flight time was at 1:45 p.m., but it departed slightly late at 2:00 p.m.  The staff was very clear with their communication, and the time was made up in the air, so it did not cause us any inconvenience.

Overall experience flying Hawaiian Airlines with Kids

Our overall experience was that this long-haul flight from Honolulu to Boston was great, and a much better option than taking back-to-back overnight flights from Honolulu to California and California to Boston. 

While it is a long, almost 10-hour flight, and on any long-haul flight, your legs start to get crampy and your mind tires, we really felt this was much easier for our family.  We liked it so much that we are considering taking the direct flight from Boston TO Honolulu for our next trip.  We enjoyed our experience on this Hawaiian Airlines flight and will most certainly take it again.

With many thanks to Keri for sharing her long-haul flying experience on Hawaiian Airlines with us. If you have your own experience you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Learn more about planning a trip to Hawaii with kids here

About the Author

Keri inspires families to enjoy the journey of traveling with kids on her blog Bon Voyage With Kids.  She is a very experienced traveler both with and without kids. Keri has lived abroad three times, is a former Cast Member for Walt Disney World Resort, and previously worked for a cultural exchange and travel company. She travels regularly with her husband and three children around the United States, to Europe, the Caribbean, and beyond.

You can connect with Keri here:

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Planning your Hawaii vacation? Learn more about the best family beaches on O’ahu here!

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