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One of the least glamorous ways to fly has to be flying from the West Coast to Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong, I think Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I would take this flight any day of the week. Moreso than any other destination, Hollywood has a tendency to portray flights to Hawaii as glamorous. Guests are often sipping Mai Tais and receiving leis on arrival. Unfortunately the real truth of these flights is the exact opposite.
The route is relatively short from the West Coast at around 5 hours and requires an overwater technology installation on the aircraft which is surely costly so airlines end up using their 757s that appear to have been outfitted with the technology 30 years ago. I have taken the route 5+ times on American and United. Every single plane has looked like an all-passenger brawl broke out on the previous flight. Seats are ripped up, the entertainment system is grainy and the audio system has one volume setting of Total Ear Drum Destruction. The most recent highlight was a huge rip in the Emergency Exit door (The inside seal, not the outside seal, thankfully). I generally go economy using Avios but if you want to go First, be ready for disappointment there too. You’ll be in a recliner that shares the same wear as the rest of the plane.
As far as service goes, you are technically on a domestic flight so you won’t receive any food or alcohol in Economy. Given the flight length, I have found a high percentage of passengers end up purchasing some food or a beer to pass the time if nothing else. I perused the American Airlines Cafe on my last flight and found this gourmet salad for 10 USD with a “Recipe designed by Marcus Samuelsson”.
I have to ask…what recipe did Marcus design on this salad? The salad is romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese and cold chicken with no seasoning in a plastic container. I might think twice before putting my name on Caesar Salad that you couldn’t possibly customize.
The bottom line
Flights from the West Coast to Hawaii are about as un-glamorous as air travel gets so set your expectations low. Expect a lengthy flight on planes that are exclusively the oldest in the fleet, no food service, and a lei-less arrival. All that being said, Hawaii is worth every moment of suffering so suck it up and do it anyways!