Review: Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort, Sydney to Honolulu

Somewhere between economy and premium economy, is paying a bit more for Extra Comfort seats on Hawaiian Airlines worth it?

Review: Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort, Sydney to Honolulu

Somewhere between economy and premium economy, is paying a bit more for Extra Comfort seats on Hawaiian Airlines worth it?

Flight details

Hawaiian Airlines HA 452 Sydney to Honolulu, Extra Comfort seat (17G — aisle seat).

Plane 

An older model Airbus A332 jet

Journey time

9 hours and 50 minutes

Frequent flyer program

Hawaiian Airlines has its own frequent flyer program, Hawaiian Miles

Partner airlines are China Airlines, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia.

Baggage

Extra Comfort airfares have the same baggage allowance as economy — 32 kilos checked and seven kilos hand luggage.

Check-in

Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is heaving. There’s a long queue even before reaching the Hawaiian Airlines check-in counter queues, a product of the pre-flight document checks associated with flying into US territory. It’s a good 30-45 minutes before I reach the front of the line, where passports, visas, CDC passenger attestation forms, and vaccination certificates are all given the once over. 

But I’m not checked in yet. That’s another 30-45 minute wait, and it’s starting to get precariously close to boarding time. At the front of the line, the attendant makes some cheerful small talk, and after a bit of a blunder trying to get my Virgin Australia frequent flyer number into the system, I’m checked in and ready for security.

Extra Comfort seats come with the added benefit of priority boarding at select airports. Sydney isn’t one of them, so I wait for the bulk of the planeload to board before taking my turn.

The flight

Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort Seats
Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort seats on the A332 | Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort seats are supposed to do what they say on the packet — provide extra comfort with more legroom, priority services, and additional amenities. They’re all at the front of the economy cabin, making up the first six rows around the galley.

Arranged in the same way as the rest of the cabin (2-4-2), the ‘extra room’ at my aisle seat (17G) isn’t all that noticeable initially. In fact, being so small, I barely notice the additional 12 centimetres of legroom at all. Space is never as much of a concern for me (at 5 feet tall, exactly) as it is for someone with much longer limbs. My neighbour seems to think the extra room is quite nifty, though still not as nifty as if he’d had a seat behind the bulkhead or in an exit row. 

There’s a neatly packaged blanket waiting for me before I sit down, and the bubbly flight attendants pass around amenity kits shortly after takeoff. The reusable felt bag includes earphones, ear plugs, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, hydrating mist, lotion, lip balm, tissue, a bamboo comb, reef-safe sunscreen, and a Hawaiian Airlines pen. I already have most of it in my flying kit, but it was a nice touch all the same.

Settling into the in-flight entertainment on my small back-of-seat screen, I run into my second challenge of the flight (the first being that I’m in an aisle seat on a full long-haul). The sound keeps cutting in and out. I notice the headphone jack is in the very wobbly armrest which, I can only assume, houses equally as ‘wobbly’ wires — an issue that appears isolated to 17G. Entertainment options are decent, even if they’re heard in mono.

The USB charging connection was similarly troubled, managing to charge my phone exactly zero percent during the ten-hour flight. If only I had used the under-seat AC power instead.

Photos of the legroom and back-of-seat screen of a Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort seat
My Extra Comfort seat | Monique Ceccato

Twenty minutes in and the first meal is served. My gluten-free fare looks much like my neighbours’ — a chicken sandwich, an apple, and a white chocolate and cranberry cookie — all washed down with a plastic glassful of white wine. The sandwich was as dry as you’d expect gluten-free sandwiches to be, but the apple was a nice, fresh touch. Much nicer than the soggy rockmelon salad masquerading as fruit salad on other airlines.

Thankfully the flight attendants were liberal in sharing small packets of crackers, nuts, cookies, and pretzels throughout the flight, as the sandwich meal alone wouldn’t be a substantial enough dinner for some travellers. Breakfast (an hour and a half before landing) was slightly more hearty and a fairly typical spread. Gluten-free or not, everyone is served a version of eggs, sausages, and potatoes. 

Final verdict

The most notable difference in the Hawaiian Airlines Extra Comfort seats were the AC power outlet and the included amenities kits. A taller person might argue that the extra space was great. But for someone as short as me, it didn’t seem to make all that much difference to the flight. That being said, I’ll never not take whatever extra space I can get on a long haul.


Monique was a guest of Hawaiian Airlines and Hawai’i Tourism Oceania.

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Lead image: Hawaiian Airlines

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