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'From JFK, on the Beach the Same Day': Hawaiian Airlines to Fly Direct from NYC to Hawaii

November 16, 2011 at 3:39 PM | by | Comments (2)

212 and 808. Respectively, they are the area codes for dialing New York City and Hawaii. Today, however, they are also the prices for a one-way economy or first class seat on Hawaiian Airlines' just announced direct flights from New York-JFK to Honolulu starting in June 2012.

That's right. $212. To Hawaii. Non-Stop. With complimentary in-flight meals, pillows and blankets. That's all great and good, but the problem is these sale fares are going fast. Already we're seeing them raise to the $300s as planes fill for—believe it or not—autumn 2012. It just goes to show how needed this route is, since United née Continental is the only other airline making the 10-hour, 5,000-mile trek (and they dumped their free in-flight meal and other niceties almost one year ago).

The details: flights will be on an Airbus A330-200, with 18 first class seats and 276 economy (32" seat pitch in econ). Book 'em, Danno.

For a better perspective on how the new Hawaiian flights will go down, we met with the airline's CEO Mark Dunkerley this morning, mere hours after even airline crew found out they'd soon be flying to NYC.

First off, we had to ask: How many times has Dunkerley been lei'd?

"Oh, thousands of times...and I don't take any of them for granted; the gesture is so symbolic," replied Mark with a laugh.

Of course to reach NYC today, Dunkerley had to fly the competition, but it's all good research for when the Hawaiian route takes off next June. Leaving JFK around 10am, the route is early enough to clear the majority of afternoon and evening delays, and early to get you off on your vacation right away.

Arriving to Honolulu at 3pm, from JFK, you're on the beach the same day. We sell Hawaii, so it's from the very first moment you're onboard. We've failed if we haven't given you a sense you're on your hard-earned vacation, the moment the wheels roll from the gate.

He's right, too. Hawaiian Airlines not only still provides all cabins with free meals ("for travelers, it's often a very large personal finance decision to come to Hawaii, so we don't treat them as cheap or budget passengers"), but those free meals emphasize Hawaiian flavors, are all natural with no preservatives, and in recyclable containers. Oh, and of course you'll totally get lei'd too.

As for the future, Hawaiian Airlines is lustfully eyeing the east coast for more routes, and Dunkerley hints that their recent rapid expansion in Japan—"we went from serving one destination, Tokyo, to three quite quickly"—is a good guide for what may happen here. All the major airports are in the running, so could we see Boston-Honolulu or BWI-Honolulu in late 2012? Hawaiian's rate of growth is around one or two new destinations each year, but Mark notes that "2012 will be more." Weee!

One last thing. You know us. You know we love our in-flight WiFi and 10 hours mostly flying over the United States? We want it, and Hawaiian's planes have at-seat USB ports (plus regular outlets in first class), so it's not a pipe dream to be "working" online all the way to Honolulu. We asked: will Hawaiian have WiFi in the near future? Mark leans towards the affirmative, but notes that "it's a fast moving area," but it would be feasible, especially since Hawaiian's planes are such that it'd be easy to hook 'em up for logging in.

Awesome. Okay...so anyone want to share a bowl of poi on the Big Island next fall?

[Photo: Jaunted]

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Great News

Good thinking with the WiFi question...that's going to be a long flight!

No Aloha In Those Business Seats

We've been flying Hawaiian for over 20 years and I have to tell you, the new Airbus Business Class seats are horrible. You feel as if you're being pushed forward when in an upright position and the recline is no more than regular First Class on Delta or Continental. The footrests are metal and spin, so if you're not careful, you bang up your ankles. We flew from Las Vegas to Honolulu on the Airbus (redeye) and were more tired when we arrived . . . and, with new backaches. The older seats are great. We'd love to fly this route, since we travel to Europe alot. But, the thought of being in those seats for 10+ hours makes me want to say no. Service and everything else on Hawaiian is great, but the seats have to go. I'm suggesting if they want to expand to the eastcoast, Hawaiian needs to look at flatbeds for this and future routes. We have been flying Alaska Airlines from Maui to the mainland now for the past 2 years and can rationalize the lack of recline, footrests, no pillows/blankets for the $300-$400 savings per ticket. Plus, we have Signature cards and get the $99 companion rate for a First Class ticket when you buy one. Also, by Hawaiian putting in a more comfortable Business Class product, they force Alaska to do the same. It's called competition and right now Alaska Airlines is winning the battle here in Hawaii - especially on Maui since Hawaiian has withdrawn quite a few nonstops to the mainland; forcing us to have to spend an extra 2-4 hours in Honolulu and an extra unnecessary flight.

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