Long Beach (LGB) to Honolulu (HNL)
On the Ground: Long Beach Airport lies just 20 miles from Los Angeles International Airport but is a throwback to a yesteryear of simpler travel. The airport features two terminals connected by a large outdoor breezeway, with local craft coffee and dining options giving you that SoCal relaxed vibe and outdoor space to enjoy the sun before your flight. Hawaiian Airlines’ newest aircraft, the Airbus A321neo, was delivered in June and made its home at Long Beach Airport with new capabilities for the West Coast traveler. Hawaiian uses its A321neos to service mid-sized mainland markets, with nonstop flights to destinations like Maui and Kauai. However, my trip took me to beautiful Honolulu.
Pre-Flight: As the mid-sized A321neo holds 189 passengers, including 12 first-class cabin seats, boarding was easy. The friendly first-class flight attendants promptly took care of putting my sun hat in a safe spot (what do you expect when traveling to Hawai’i?) and offered pre-flight beverages of a mai tai, guava juice or Champagne. As Hawaiian won Best Champagne in our annual Wines on the Wing survey for its Flor Prosecco, I had to give it a try and was not disappointed. We were also given small dishes of macadamia nuts. We took off into the morning sun on time and in good spirits.
In-Flight: Once we reached altitude, I explored my seat a bit more. Hawaiian Airlines’ first class on this Long Beach route has a simple 2-2 configuration with oversized reclining seats that were surprisingly comfortable and perfect for the quick five-hour flight. Other routes feature lie-flat seats in first class (check your flight listings). There were no built-in screens, but attendants distributed charged iPads and headphones during the flight, and the airline’s entertainment app offered a wide range of new and classic movies and shows for passengers to experience aircraft-wide. Just make sure you download the app before your flight, as no onboard WiFi is available yet.
Breakfast on the way to Honolulu was a mushroom quiche; although I am not a fan of eggs on a plane, it was quite good, and a glass of guava juice was the perfect post-meal drink. My return flight’s lunch menu was even better, with smoked shrimp crostini and a short rib stew with coconut ginger rice — delicious. Other unique, Hawai’ian-focused touches included food and beverage options like the lager from Maui Brewing Co. and the shortbread cookies from the famed Honolulu Cookie Co. I also loved seeing the silhouette of the lavatory signs featured a Hawai’ian pattern on the shirt and dress.
What makes the Hawaiian Airlines flight so special is the aloha spirit from the cabin crew. Everyone is kind, generous and, most importantly, happy, setting the mood for a good time and what’s to come in paradise.
◆ The A321neo allows more options than ever for West Coast travelers to take a non-stop flight to the islands.
◆ Hawaiian’s cabin crew is the definition of aloha spirit.
◆ The beverage game is on point with craft beer, award-winning Champagne, guava juice and mai tais!
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