The Guide to Hawaiian Airlines Business Class

Hawaiian calls its international premium cabin business class — it's the same as the first class cabin on domestic.
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Written by June Casagrande

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Does Hawaiian Airlines have business class? Indeed, it does. If you’re flying Hawaiian Airlines to Asia or the South Pacific, a business class ticket can get you there in a lie-flat seat that comes with excellent service and the airline’s famous aloha spirit.

Here’s what you need to know about Hawaiian Airlines business class to help you determine if it is worth the extra cost.

What is business class on Hawaiian Airlines?

International travelers can fly business class on Hawaiian Airlines. Passengers get a spacious seat — about 20 inches wide — with a full 76 inches to stretch out or lie fully flat. Plus, business class passengers get a privacy screen between seats, personal USB and AC outlets, elevated meal service and other perks.

On international flights, Hawaiian Airlines calls its most premium cabin business class. Hawaiian flies internationally to:

  • American Samoa.

  • Australia.

  • Japan.

  • New Zealand.

  • South Korea.

  • French Polynesia.

When you consider Hawaiian Airlines business class versus first class, it's hard to differentiate. The business class cabin on international flights is the same cabin that, for longer domestic flights, is called first class.

In short: Both business class and first class on Hawaiian are essentially the same.

Airport experience

On the ground, Hawaiian business class passengers get:

  • Two free checked bags.

  • Early boarding.

  • Priority check-in.

  • Priority security screening.

  • Lounge access in Honolulu, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul and Auckland.

If you’re flying business class out of Honolulu, your ticket includes access to the airline’s Plumeria Lounge, serving complimentary food, beer, wine and soft drinks. Meanwhile, business class passengers flying out of Sydney, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Seoul or Auckland get access to a partner lounge as part of their ticket.

The Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu International Airport. (Photo by June Casagrande)

In-flight experience

What is Hawaiian Airlines business class like inflight? Passengers enjoy:

  • Hawaii-regional cuisine created by award-winning chefs.

  • Unlimited beverage service, including signature Hawaiian-inspired cocktails and Maui Brewing Company beer.

  • Free movies, TV and music.

  • 180-degree lie-flat seats with premium bedding.

  • Amenity kit with personal grooming products on flights eight hours or longer.

How to book Hawaiian Airlines business class

Booking with cash

At the Hawaiian Airlines website, enter the details of your international trip and click “Search flights.”

Your search results will automatically include a business class option, if available.

Click “View seats” to pull up a chart of the business class cabin for your flight, showing which seats are already claimed and which are still unclaimed. If you like your options, select the flight you want and book it. You’ll be able to select your seats before you finalize your ticket purchase.

Booking with HawaiianMiles

Before booking a ticket with HawaiianMiles, you must be logged in to your account. That way, you can see how many miles your business class seat will cost — and ensure that you have enough to cover the award ticket's cost.

Enter your travel dates and destination as you would for a cash fare, then click “Search.” Because you’re logged in, the search results page will now give you the option to use miles. Choose this option and you see the name of the business class column changes to first class.

It’s the same premium cabin seat, just with a different name to correspond to Hawaiian’s award charts and other online information.

Select the first class itinerary you want, then proceed to booking and seat selection.

There’s also a “Dollars and miles” option, but it tends to be a poor value. We recommend aiming for a redemption rate of at least 1.2 cents per point when booking award tickets on Hawaiian.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Join the HawaiianMiles loyalty program before you book and your round-trip international business class flight will earn you more than enough miles for an inter-island flight.

How to upgrade to business class after you book

If you booked an economy class ticket on an international Hawaiian Airlines flight, you can upgrade to business class using miles or cash.

For an off-peak trip to Japan, South Korea, Australia or New Zealand, you’ll need 45,000 miles for an upgrade. In peak travel times, those upgrades cost 90,000 miles. To American Samoa or French Polynesia, off-peak rates are 30,000 miles and peak upgrades are 60,000. Cash prices vary by flight.

To upgrade using miles, contact Hawaiian Airlines reservations. To upgrade using cash, you can use the Hawaiian Airlines website or call a reservations agent.

How to bid up your flight to business class

If you bought a ticket in Hawaiian Airlines’ main cabin, you could get an email from Hawaiian offering an opportunity to “bid up” to a premium cabin seat. Follow the instructions in the email to indicate how much you’re willing to pay to move to business class. Enter your bid and, if you’ve successfully outbid other passengers, you’ll get an email 24 to 48 hours before departure letting you know you’ve been upgraded and charged the amount you specified.

Every flight has a minimum bid allowed, so you can’t bid $1 and hope no one else bids. For example, on a flight from Ontario, California, to Honolulu, the bid slider started at $325. Anything lower counted as “no offer.”

Before you enter a bid, check the seat map for your flight on Hawaiian Airlines’ website to make sure you like the remaining open seats in business class. You won’t have the option of picking your own business class seat. Also, if you paid for an Extra Comfort seat in the main cabin, you'll lose the value of that add-on — it won’t be applied to your bid or refunded.

Is Hawaiian Airlines business class worth it?

Free cocktails, fancy meals and fawning service are nice. But regardless of the airline, the real value of a business class seat is comfort. If you can afford to spend the seven, eight or more hours of a red-eye flight sleeping blissfully in a flat bed in the sky, it’s worth the money to avoid a cramped, uncomfortable night in coach.

Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.

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