a man sitting in an airplane with a lei around his neck

Trip Report: Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural Flight

I flew on the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines B787-9 from San Francisco to Honolulu. This is a photo trip report of my onboard experience.


Flight HA11 San Francisco to Honolulu

a large white airplane parked in a terminal
a tail of an airplane with a woman's face on it

There were some celebrations and festivities at the gate before we board. Passengers were given Hawaiian Lei. (Flower ring) as a special gesture.

a man and woman posing for a picture
a group of people standing in a doorway of an airplane

Hawaiian Airlines B787-9 First Class "Leihōkū Suite"

Hawaiian Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 features a total of 300 seats, including 34 premium suites and 266 economy class seats.

The fully enclosed suites (Adient Aerospace Ascent) are a huge step up for a leisure carrier like Hawaiian Airlines. Special lighting was presented in the cabin during boarding which makes it extra welcoming.

Leihōkū — meaning “lei of stars” in Hawaiian.

a seat in a plane
Hawaiian Airlines B787-9 First Class "Leihōkū Suite"
a seat in an airplane
Hawaiian Airlines B787-9 First Class "Leihōkū Suite"
a row of seats in an airplane
a group of people sitting in a row of monitors on an airplane
a person sleeping on a plane
a group of people sitting in a row of seats with computers
a glass of orange liquid on a napkin
Welcome Drink Hawaiian guava cocktail
a hand holding a card
Passengers on the inaugural flight were given this special luggage tag

Features of the Hawaiian Airlines First Class "Leihōkū Suite" include a cocktail side table, personal storage with mirror, wireless phone charging, power point.

a man taking a selfie in an airplane

The galley was nicely designed with special cove lighting on the ceiling.

a room with cabinets and shelves
a inside of a plane
a group of people wearing matching outfits
Hawaiian Airlines SFO ground staff farewell the inaugural flight

The Flight to Honolulu

We took off on-time from Runway 01 with a left turn towards the Pacific. You can watch the takeoff from my video.

Flight time from San Francisco to Honolulu was 5 hours and 11 minutes under the command of Captain Mary Scott and Captain John. We cruised at 38,000 ft with Mach .85 speed.

In Economy, flight attendants first came with a buy-on-board cart, followed by complimentary drinks and a free breakfast sandwich.

a man holding a bottle of alcohol in a plane
a woman wearing flowers on her head smiling
a hand holding a menu
Economy Class buy onboard menu
a hand holding a menu
Hawaiian Airlines First Class Menu
a plate of nuts and a drink on a table
Hawaiian Pineapple Passion cocktail + macadamia nuts

The breakfast in the Premium cabin was quite underwhelmed, it is on par with any other U.S. domestic flight with one tray breakfast. I was expecting better.

a tray with food on it
Breakfast: Pancake with sausage

a person holding a paper shirt
Inside these cute Hawaiian shirts are salt and pepper packs.
a woman standing in a plane with trays of desserts
Breakfast service concludes with dessert (chocolate mochi) and tea/coffee

I'd say given the long flight, the food option in both Premium and Economy cabins could be better. Also, the pillow and blanket used in First Class are disposable grade. They could be better with a bigger pillow and a proper duvet.

In the main cabin, there are 72 "extra comfort seats" in front of the Economy cabin (See chart below). These seats have a lot more legroom. On my flight, it was offered for $109 extra.

Extra Comfort seat on Hawaiian Airlines 787-9
Extra Comfort seat on Hawaiian Airlines 787-9
a chart of a flight

Lucky Approach

As the wind came from the West, we were treated to a beautiful approach into Honolulu. I enjoyed a scenic landing with great views of the Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and Honolulu downtown, followed by a 45-degree turn and a manual landing. I was told only about "10%" of the time they use this approach.

aerial view of a volcano in the middle of Diamond Head
an aerial view of a city and a body of water
a city on the beach
an airplane wing and a city
a group of people in a plane
two people in a cockpit


The 5-hour flight went by quickly as the cabin was quiet and more comfortable with better humidity. With all the festivity onboard, the inaugural flight doesn't feel like a typical U.S. domestic flight. I appreciate the friendly crew making the experience extra enjoyable.

The Hawaiian Airlines new B787-9 is a huge step up in Premium Cabin with the fully enclosed suite. However, I'd say the soft product on domestic flight left a lot to be desired.


  • Brand new airplane with more premium seats/suites than their A330
  • Better cabin humidity and quieter
  • Proper in-flight entertainment (Starlink Wi-Fi to follow soon)


  • Soft products need to elevate to match the premium hard product

The Hawaiian Airlines B787 is available on the following routes:

  • Flights from Honolulu (HNL) to San Francisco (SFO)
  • Flights from Honolulu (HNL) to Los Angeles (LAX) as of May 14, 2024
  • Flights from Honolulu (HNL) to Phoenix (PHX) as of May 15, 2024

Bonus - Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker

While I was in Hawaii, I get to experience the historical Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, which made history by introducing commercial air service to the Hawaiian Islands.

The aircraft first launched with a series of sightseeing flights around Oʻahu. It sparked enough curiosity among locals and visitors to convince the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company board to expand its footprint into aviation. One month later, on Nov. 11, 1929, Inter-Island Airways was inaugurated, which later became Hawaiian Airlines.

I am glad to experience this truly historical plane, which still flies high over the Hawaiian skies ninety-five years later.

You can see my video below for more flying action.

Hawaiian Airlines Premium Airport Service + 1929 Lounge

On my departure, I was invited to try out Hawaiian new Premium Airport service, which starts the moment when you arrive at the airport terminal.

The service can be purchased here. Pricing starts at $500 for a party of 2.

a man and woman standing next to each other
Personal greetings and luggage handling

The staff already printed out my boarding pass while waiting for my arrival. Within minutes, I was through security and escorted to a "hidden" private lounge called 1929 (the year Hawaiian Airlines started flying).

a man standing in front of a door

a long hallway with pictures on the wall
The private 1929 lounge is behind this passage, there are a lot of historical aviation photos on the wall.

There are several lounges, which can host up to 2-3 parties at once while remain private. There are also private shower room and toilet facilities.

a room with a television and couches
Private lounge room of 1929
A bigger shared lounge area, 1929 Lounge
A bigger shared lounge area, 1929 Lounge
Outdoor lounge area, 1929 lounge
Outdoor lounge area, 1929 lounge
Outdoor lounge area, 1929 lounge
Outdoor lounge area, 1929 lounge
a patio area with chairs and tables
Outdoor lounge area, 1929 lounge

There is a free bar menu with cocktails, champagne, wine and juice available to order. I tried out 2 different cocktails and some Hawaiian sodas.

a table with drinks and food on it

In terms of food, you can pre-order it before your arrival. You will receive an email detailing the food options.

a menu on a table

I pre-ordered the teriyaki chicken entree. Interestingly, It is presented the same as those on the flight...

The lounge attendant told me there are limitations to serve better food as the airport (state-owned) needs to approve any kitchen installation inside the lounge. Currently, the food came from Hawaiian Airlines caterer.

a plate of food on a table

Before the departure, the private car will take you to your gate/terminal and you will be escorted onto the plane.

a black suv parked in a parking lot

I think everything with the lounge is perfect, except they need to serve better food and improve the presentation.

$500 for 2 no doubt won't fit everyone's budget but for those who value privacy and time, this may be a good solution. This is the only premium VIP service offered at the Honolulu Airport.