Oman Air, Business Class – Airbus A 330-200: Kuala Lumpur to Muscat

Oman Air Logo

Date: 23. December 2016.
Departure: 09:40
Arrival: 13:10
Flight time: 6 hours 30 minutes.
Seat: 10A.

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GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
In Kuala Lumpur I am staying at the Sama Sama hotel that is connected to the airport terminal building via footbridge. It takes you about five minutes on foot from the hotel lobby to the departures concourse on level 4 of the terminal building.

CHECK-IN
Terminal: 1.
Row: M
Airport check-in:

  • Business Class – two counters.
  • Web check-in – one counter.
  • Economy Class – four counters.

Web check-in: I receive an e-mail from Oman Air the evening before the flight, inviting me to check in online for the flight from Muscat to Zürich, but not for the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Muscat. So I am not quite sure what that e-mail was about and what the web check-in counter is supposed to be for.
Comment: The airport is crawling with people when I arrive for check-in. There are long queues for all airlines and outside, most of the aircraft stands appear to be occupied.

LOUNGE
Location:
In the satellite terminal, above the station of the shuttle to the main building.
Name of Lounge:
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge.
Type of Lounge:
Malaysia Airlines Business Class lounge.
Toilets:
Toilets are available in the lounge, but they are pretty old and smelly.
Showers:
Also available, but in equally bad shape as the toilets.
Food & Beverages: There is a selection of hot and cold dishes, with a mix of traditional Malaysian and Western breakfast dishes.
Connectivity:
Wifi is available in the lounge, password required.
Comment:
The lounge is used by all passengers travelling on Malaysia Airlines and a few others, like Oman Air. As a result, the place is completely full and there is hardly a place to sit. Once I do find a place to sit down, I go and get myself a drink, only to find that they have run out of clean glasses.

I think this is a really nicely designed lounge, but I also think it is starting to show its age, it looks tired and worn.

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BOARDING
Priority Boarding:
Kind of…
Number of Airbridges:
2.
Comment:
My flight is boarding from gate C1, which shares a security checkpoint with gate C3. There are two queues for the security checkpoint. There is no dedicated lane for Business Class passengers but at least the queue moves fairly quickly. Once you are inside the holding pen, there are two separate exits to the aircraft. Business Class passengers use the L1 door, all other passengers use the L2.

CABIN & SEAT
Configuration:
2 + 2 + 2.
Seat Layout: Oman Air has started to renew the Business Class cabin of its Airbus aircraft. Where previously the A 330s had a seat that was more akin to what other airlines have in First Class, the new Business Class definitely makes better use of the available space. Oman Air has installed the same seat that Japan Airlines has on the Boeing B777-300 on long-haul flights. On a pair of two, the seats are slightly staggered, with the aisle seat is slightly behind the window seat to allow the person sitting by the window easy access to the aisle without having to climb over another person.

Apart from the fact that the seat and cabin are obviously still very new, I like the colours Oman Air uses, a combination of light and dark browns with a dash of turquoise to liven things up.
Capacity:

  • Business Class – 30 seats.
  • Economy Class – 196 seats.

Pitch: 82 inches.
Width: 22 inches.
Length as a Bed: 77.5 inches.
AC Power:
Every seat in Business Class has its own AC power port and two USB ports.
Audio and Video: Audio and video on demand. The IFE system is operated via remote control. The control reacts very well and is very fast.
Earphones: No name branded earphones.
Connectivity:
Wifi is available on board and there are different price plans for mobile devices and laptops. You can choose between 30 minutes/10 MB for USD7; 60 minutes/25 MB for USD13; or 3 hours/100 MB for USD20.
Comment:
Of course the new seat is not as luxurious and spacious as the old Business Class seat that used to be installed on the A 330. However, having said that, the new seat certainly makes more sense commercially. I like this seat. It offers a lot of storage space and if you raise the privacy screen between you and the person on the aisle, the window seat really is quite private. Besides, on this particular flight only 10 out of 30 seats are occupied anyway.

I was unable to find a seat map with the new cabin layout.

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SERVICE & CREW
The crew are friendly enough. As soon as I am seated, I am brought a scented hot towel that is so hot it actually has steam rising from it. In short succession I am also brought the earphones, the vanity kit, the menu and an orange juice.

Once the doors close, the service begins with the traditional Omani welcome, which consists of a fresh date and a cup of Arabic coffee.

VANITY KIT

  • Shaver with shaving cream.
  • Colgate toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Eye shades.
  • Earplugs.
  • A comb.
  • A lot of useless Amouage cosmetics (lip balm, eye cream, hand cream…)

THE FIRST SERVICE
Welcome drink on the ground:
Orange juice.
Towel before the meal:
Scented hot towel served while still on the ground.
Delivery:
Individual tray service.
Type of meal:
Breakfast.
First course:
Natural yoghurt with honey.
Main course:
Bowl of fruit (mango, pineapple, grape, kiwi, melon, nectarine)
Breadbasket:
A selection of warm breads, including Arabic bread, a Danish roll, a croissant and a bun, served with butter.
Beverages:
Coffee with cream, orange juice.
Comment:
On the morning flight from Kuala Lumpur Oman Air changes the service order around. Just after take-off the small meal is served, while the main meal is served prior to arrival in Muscat.

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THE MEAL
Choice:
There are three options each for the starter, the main course and the dessert.
Delivery:
Individual tray service.
Type of meal:
Lunch.
First course:
Arabic hot and cold mezze (labneh, olives, samosa and something red with a tasty, strong flavour of roasted bell peppers.
Main course:
Oriental beef curry with a spiced gravy and fragrant steamed rice.
Cheese:
A selection of cheese with pineapple chutney and poached pears.
Breadbasket: A selection of bread, including Arabic flat bread.
Beverages:
A Diet Coke and still water, coffee after the meal.
Comment:
Ninety minutes out of Muscat the main meal service begins. For the starter I have the Arabic mezze, which are quite tasty. I have to say, this dish is not on the same level as Qatar Airways’ mezze platter, for example. But the food is good enough and the presentation is nice.

For the main course I have the beef curry and this really is quite tasty – the beef is so tender! The meal is served with cucumber and a chilli in case you like your food a bit spicier.

I decide to skip dessert and have the cheese plate instead. As the flight attendant comes to remove the plate from the main course, he notices that I have already demolished all the bread, so with the cheese plate he also brings me some more bread.

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ARRIVAL
Our arrival into Muscat is very spectacular and leads us along the cost past Mutrah and the city of Muscat to land in a westerly direction.

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From the outside, the new terminal in Muscat looks nearly finished. However, I ask one of the cabin crew and he tells me the facility will not be opening before the end of 2017 because there is still quite a lot of work to be completed on the inside of the building.

But of course this is all good news for me because it means we will be deplaning via stairs and ferried to the terminal by bus. I always enjoy taking a good look at the aircraft I fly with from the outside. Business Class passengers are bussed across to the terminal in their own, dedicated bus.

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Cathay Pacific Airways, Business Class – A 330-300: Perth to Hong Kong

Catahay-Pacific-Logo

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Aircraft:
Airbus A 330-300
Cabin:
Business Class
Seat:
15A, window
From:
Perth
To:
Hong Kong
Date:
23. August 2013
Departure:
07:10
Arrival:
15:10

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Hey, who turned the lights out? It’s just gone 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s still dark outside and I’m all bleary eyed. My mouth feels dry and the vestiges of yesterday evening’s meal – which included a rather hefty dose of red onion – make my tongue feel as though something small and furry decided to surreptitiously crawl into my mouth and then unexpectedly lost its will to live. This really is rather early. But you see, today I am leaving Australia – unfortunately. I’m heading for Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific Airways.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

The taxi I ordered the evening before is already expecting me as I exit the hotel at around five in the morning. The journey to the international terminal in Perth takes about 15 minutes to complete. Traffic is good, but I’m still surprised to see quite a few cars on the road at this ungodly hour.

CHECK-IN

Check-in is in full swing when I arrive. Fortunately the queue for Business Class passengers is a short one, so I don’t have that long to wait. Strangely enough, the place is littered with Asians with their suitcases open and busy rearranging their bags. One young man approaches me and asks me if he might be able to check-in with me as a member of the same party so he won’t have to pay excess baggage. I politely decline but I must confess I am rather curious as to how much extra he’ll need to pay.

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From check-in I head upstairs and change what’s left of the Australian Dollars into Hong Kong Dollars. And then I officially exit the country. But I’ll be back.

THE LOUNGE

Cathay Pacific don’t have their own lounge in Perth and instead use the Qantas Club lounge. The lounge is not nearly half the size of the domestic lounge I was in yesterday in Adelaide. But it is equally well stocked and has a good selection of well prepared and tasty food options.

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BOARDING

Boarding starts slightly behind schedule due to the late arrival of our flight. The turn around is normally only 85 minutes for the morning service, which means that even the slightest delay is likely to have a knock on effect.

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There is a separate lane for Business Class passengers to pass the gate. From the departures level it’s two flights of stairs down to the entrance of the airbridge.

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THE CABIN

As I enter the cabin I am delighted to find that this aircraft has been fitted with the new Business Class seat. So no herring bone. There’s nothing wrong with the herring bone in terms of comfort but it really is a bitch to look out the window in those seats. The new Cathay Pacific Business Class seat is very much like the British Airways First Class seat, just not quite so roomy. This must be one of my favourite Business Class seats and certainly beats the Singapore Airlines one they have on the A 380.

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The load on today’s flight is pretty light up front, I only count ten passengers in total. The smaller Business Class cabin behind the L2 door remains completely empty.

SERVICE

The crew in Business Class are all female and very friendly. Shortly after I take my seat, one of the ladies appears with a choice of either orange juice or champagne.

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And then after that it’s the scented warm towels, which are a nice, rich texture quite unlike the ones British Airways uses in First Class.

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And then as the last thing before we push back, the vanity kit and a bottle of Evian arrive.

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DEPARTURE

Departure is from runway 03. The taxiway from the international apron does not reach all the way to the end of the runway. So at some point we have to cross the runway to the taxiway at the other side and then from there we reach the threshold.

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The acceleration is good, but it still takes us a while until we are finally airborne. And with that, I have left Australian soil.

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After take-off the crew come through the cabin distributing the wine list and menu for today’s flight.

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THE MEAL

Unlike my previous experience with Cathay Pacific, on this flight the meal is served on a tray directly from the galley, instead of from a trolley. Presumably that also has to do with the light load in Business today.

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In any case, the crew come to take my order for the meal and the drinks. We start with a plate of seasonal fresh fruit. The pineapple, melon and kiwi are fabulous and have remained fresh. The strawberries however, are somewhat bland in flavour.

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The tray arrives with the apple juice and milk coffee I’d ordered, as well as a glass of still water.

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This is followed shortly after by the breadbasket. There is a choice of different types of bread, croissants and muffins and a selection of preserves and honey.

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After that comes the vanilla yoghurt, which is very rich and creamy.

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For the main course I have the butter milk pancakes with caramelised walnuts, apples and strawberries with maple syrup – divine!

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The meal concludes with the mandatory scented towels Cathay Pacific seem to have an abundance of on their aircraft.

And now I think I’ll listen to some music. Here’s a nifty feature of the console to operate the IFE. At the top it constantly displays the time left to go to destination. I think this is a really neat feature!

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About two hours out of Hong Kong the lights go on again and a fresh set of hot towels herald the beginning of the second service. Much to my surprise, the second meal service is another full meal and not just a snack.

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For an apéritif I have one of Cathay Pacific’s signature non-alcoholic cocktails – but alas I forget the name. It is a refreshing mix of kiwi, mint leaves and coconut milk. The drink is served with a small bowl of warm salty almonds.

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We begin with a trio of gravlax, seared tuna in sesame seeds on pesto and a lime marinated shrimp.

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With that I have some garlic bread. Well okay, three slices. But they really were quite small.

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On the tray there is also a salad with feta cheese, cranberries and a balsamico vinaigrette.

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For the main I have the vegetarian option, which turn out to be palak paneer, dhal masala, mushroom and peas with turmeric basmati rice. The dish is moderately spicy and simply excellent, with a variety of different spices and flavours miraculously crammed onto one dish.

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The hot meal is followed by a selection of fruit and cheese: Maffra Sage Derby, Jindi Blue and a Tasmanian Heritage Brie. With that I have a small glass of port.

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And as though I hadn’t already had enough, the meal closes with a mint tea and a dessert of dark chocolate ganache tart on a raspberry coulis.

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And this is how far I got with the tart.

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And just in case there are still some passengers who haven’t had enough yet, the crew pass through the cabin with a box of pralinés, which I decline. What a meal!

ARRIVAL

Our arrival is delayed slightly. Apparently arriving traffic is rather busy.

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Cathay Pacific provides an excellent arrivals lounge, which is located landside, right under the station of the Hong Kong Airport Express.

If you’re travelling to Hong Kong by public transport, I can highly recommend the Hong Kong Airport Express. Should your hotel be on the mainland, get off the train at the stop Kowloon. From there follow the signs to the Express shuttle bus. This is a complimentary shuttle for passengers with a valid train ticket and there are many different lines that will take you to the largest or best known hotels in the area.

During my brief stay in Hong Kong I shall be staying at The Peninsula, which is a truly lovely hotel. I did try taking pictures, but somehow they hardly do this grand building justice. So I will leave it here with a few pictures of the view from my room.

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Hawaiian Air, First Class – A 330-200: San Francisco to Kahului via Honolulu

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday I arrived in San Francisco on a United Airlines flight from Las Vegas. I spent the night at the Hyatt Regency close to the airport and today I am finally on my way Hawaii.

Hawaiian-Airlines-Logo

Date: 29. January 2013
From: San Francisco
To: Honolulu
Airline: Hawaiian Air
Aircraft: Airbus A 330-200
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 1A

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

It’s gone six and I am standing outside the entrance to the Hyatt, waiting for my shuttle to arrive to take me back to San Francisco airport.

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The shuttle makes a stop at the Marriott on its way to the Hyatt and is already quite full when it arrives. Most of the passengers are flight crews about to start another working day. There’s one guy who looks like the caricature of a pilot, complete with leather jacket and Frisbee cap.

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All of the passengers descend at the domestic terminal, except for me. Although the flight to Honolulu is a domestic service, it departs from the international terminal.

San Francisco International.
San Francisco International.

CHECK-IN

The facility is fairly deserted when I arrive. There is already a small queue forming for the Hawaiian Air counters. Apparently they’re having trouble of sorts with their check-in system. The ground crew apologise for the inconvenience and tell us they shan’t be long. And indeed, a few minutes later the ATB printer is happily printing a test boarding pass.

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There is a separate line and counter for passengers in First Class and passengers with status in Hawaiian’s frequent flyer programme. When it’s my turn the check-in agent welcomes me to the flight and thanks me for flying Hawaiian. She then proceeds to print my boarding passes for the flight to Honolulu as well as the onward connection to Kahului on Maui. She also directs me to the priority lane for security, not that it makes a difference with so few passengers around this morning.

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THE LOUNGE

The terminal is only just opening and most of the shops are still closed. Which is a bit unfortunate as Hawaiian doesn’t have a lounge in San Francisco and I’m dying for a coffee. Eventually I find a place towards the end of the concourse that is already open and is very close to A8, my departure gate for this flight.

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A cappuccino, fresh orange juice and a toasted bagel later and I’m feeling much more alive than I did when I first reached the airport. I switch on the complimentary wifi and give my mum a quick call on Facetime to report on my progress thus far – it’s cold and rainy in Switzerland, the usual. In contrast, the view from where I’m sitting is just fine.

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After I ring off I cross to the other side of the facility to take a closer look at my bird for today. And I am truly smitten. She’s simply gorgeous and I can barely take my eyes off her!

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Boarding starts right on time with a call for passengers with reduced mobility and special needs. Once the passengers with kids and wheelchairs have passed the gate, the ground crew halt the boarding process to give the special needs passengers enough time to settle in. I like that, very sensible. Next it’s the boarding call for the premium passengers. There are two airbridges attached to the aircraft, premium passengers should use the left one.

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THE CREW

I am the first to board the aircraft. I am greeted by a friendly ‘aloha’ and I am struck by how much better looking and, well…happy…the cabin crew look than those I encountered on United. They’re smiles all round and give the impression of actually looking forward to having you on board as their guest! I am mesmerized; thank God I didn’t choose United for this flight!

THE CABIN

The cabin on this bird is either very new or very well kept. The First Class seat is not state of the art and only offers limited recline. The seat controls are mechanical rather than electrical. Still, the seat is comfortable enough for the journey of five hours across the Pacific to Hawaii. The First Class cabin comprises three rows of seats in a 2 + 2 + 2 configuration, making for a total of 18 seats. Twelve seats will be occupied on today’s flight.

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A blanket and pillow are already at my set when I arrive.

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SERVICE

I stow away my things and take my seat on 1A. Immediately a flight attendant appears, places a napkin on the armrest and asks me if I’d like a glass of champagne, guava juice or a combination of both. I ask for the guava juice and have to make an effort to stop my jaw from dropping as the flight attendant actually brings me just what I’d asked for: a glass of juice, not a plastic cup!

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A short while later the same flight attendant brings me the menu for today’s flight. She points out that all the items on the menu will be served.

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DEPARTURE

And shortly after that we’re ready for departure. The ground crew make an announcement wishing all the passengers a pleasant journey and officially hand us over to the cabin crew. Then the doors are closed, the airbridges are removed and we push back. The journey begins!

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Take-off is surprisingly sluggish, considering it’s an A 330. I’m sitting on the left side, so I’m hoping to get a view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. But as my luck will have it, we begin a left turn towards the open Pacific before we reach the bridge.

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After take-off service begins with the distribution of earphones. I haven’t tried them yet, but I think they’re rather cool to look at. After that the crew come to ask what we’d like to drink and I have another guava juice, which is brought to me with a small dish of mixed nuts and berries.

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THE MEAL

From my seat I have a good view of what’s going on in the galley, the curtains have not been drawn. I am particularly impressed and quite surprised to find that the plates with the hot meal have not been prepared beforehand. Instead, the flight attendant doing the galley is preparing and decorating every plate individually. The meal consists of:

  • a warm muffin with orange zest
  • a selection of fresh fruit – pineapple, melon, grapes, strawberries and mint
  • a lomi lomi salmon omelette
  • steamed rice with chicken, taro and shitake mushrooms
  • a slice of carrot cake for dessert

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And very tasty the meal is too, in particular the omelette is nice and fluffy and full of flavour.

Once I finish the meal, the tray is removed. I take out my Kindle and read until we start our descent into Honolulu. Throughout the flight the crew pass through the cabin a number of times, asking passengers if there’s anything they need or if they’d like to have a drink.

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Just before we leave our flight level, the crew distribute hot towels. They’re not scented, but that’s okay.

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ARRIVAL

After a flying time of five hours our flight draws to an end and we make a lovely approach into Honolulu. Honolulu is a nice airport, a lot of the terminal is open air and it feels good to be able to walk around without a jacket.

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Last turn onto finals.
Last turn onto finals.

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Transit area.
Transit area.

From Honolulu I have an onward connection with Hawaiian Air to Kahului. So I find a nice place to sit outside, take some pictures and wait for my flight to board. There is First Class lounge for the intra-island flights, but to be honest it’s not really that nice.

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There isn’t really anything much to say about the onward connection to Kahului, after all it’s only a 20 minute hop. About thirty minutes before departure I head for the gate and take a seat to whatch all sorts of birds flying around.

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A short while later I see my aircraft pulling onto stand.

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Date: 29. January 2013
From: Honolulu
To: Kahului
Airline: Hawaiian Air
Aircraft: B 717
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 1C

BOARDING

My plane arrives at the gate 20 minutes before departure and I start to think that we’re probably not going to make an on time departure. Little do I know how hard they work those little B 717s.

My plane.
My plane.

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THE CABIN

Boarding starts on time.

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Waiting by the entrance.
Waiting by the entrance.

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Even on these short hops Hawaiian have a dedicated First Class cabin in a 2 + 2 configuration. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that this is quite an amazing little airline. Little of course only by American standards.

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The bulkhead.
The bulkhead.
Don't forget your manners just because you on holiday, so don't put your feet up against the bulkhead.
Don’t forget your manners just because you on holiday, so don’t put your feet up against the bulkhead.
The front office.
The front office.

THE SERVICE

Despite the short flying time, in Business Class Hawaiian still serve a pre-departure drink and another drink with a packet of nuts inflight. But they’re expecting quite some chop on today’s flight so the flight attendant distributes the nuts on the ground.

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I didn’t take any further pictures of the flight. It was quite turbulent and with the shaking it was impossible to take any decent pictures.

CONCLUSION

Hawaiian Air really impressed me. Their service is truly excellent and the crew are just so nice and friendly. I don’t think I’d want to do the direct flight from JFK to Honolulu in that seat – it’s a ten hours flight – but for the journey from San Francisco it was certainly more than adequate.

EPILOGUE

On Maui I call the Makena Beach Resort home. As I sit here on the balcony of my room writing this up and occasionally looking out to sea, I can actually see and even hear whales breaching in the distance – beautiful!

This concludes the series of reports on my American vacation. America is such a vast country, full of contrast and with so much to see and do. It has been a memorable trip and I certainly hope to return to Hawaii some day. I leave you with some pictures of Hawaii.

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