Is Hawaiian Airlines actually the best airline to fly to Hawaii? When we traveled from San Diego to Maui it wasn’t just our first time flying on Hawaiian Airlines, but also Brigitte’s first time visiting these islands! Beforehand we had read other reviews for Hawaiian Airlines… So how did our experience stack up? Join us as we cover everything from booking our flight to the onboard entertainment, the airports, and even what food and drinks are offered!
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Maui Travel Inspiration
- Planning a Trip to Maui: 10 Step Easy to Follow Travel Guide
- Maui Itinerary: How to Experience The Best of Maui in 5 Days!
- Where to Stay in Maui Hawaii: 4 Best Areas With Awesome Hotels
- 20 Fun Facts About Maui Hawaii to Know Before You Go
- 25 Fun & Exciting Things to do in Maui Hawaii
Our Review of Hawaiian Airlines
San Diego to Maui
We didn’t originally think our travel plans would take us to Hawaii, but sometimes random last-minute flights are the best! Fortunately, we had the chance to visit a family member that recently moved to Maui.
We originally planned to be in San Diego for a wedding and after head South to Sayulita Mexico. However, when we saw that flights from San Diego to Maui were less than $100 how could we resist?!
The Best Airline to Fly to Hawaii
As always, we checked Skyscanner first when looking for the best airline to fly to Hawaii. There were several flights on the day we needed and we were so excited when we saw they were with Hawaiin Airlines!
While we would have flown with whatever airline worked the best for us, we had always wanted to fly with them. After all, Hawaiin Airlines is the biggest operator of flights to Hawaii from the mainland U.S. So after reading plenty of other reviews for Hawaiin Airlines it was time to see what they were all about!
Once you pick your travel day and time there are several different classes to choose from depending on your needs. There is Main Cabin Basic, Main Cabin, and First-class available.
First-class was tempting, however, we decided to go with the Main Cabin from San Diego to Maui on a morning flight. Morning worked out best as we were able to still have plenty of our day left after the time change.
Hawaiin Airlines Review Flight Details
Flight Time: 6 Hours
Take Off: 10:20am
→ To search for current Hawaiian airlines flights and promotions head directly to the Hawaiian Airlines website.
Arriving at San Diego International
We spent two years living in San Diego before leaving to travel and work full time on our website. It’s an AMAZING city in Southern California and the airport is one of our favorites in the United States.
San Diego International Airport is located just outside the center and super convenient to get to. There is a saying that everything is just 15 minutes away in San Diego, and that couldn’t be more true about the airport!
Holding the title as the busiest single-lane runway in the U.S., San Diego is always a breeze to get in and out of along our travels. We ended up having to check a bag (which we normally don’t do) but since we were there for a wedding we had more to pack than usual.
Checking our bag was easy and something that we wanted to point out in this review of Hawaiin Airlines. Our flight was definitely full once we boarded, but the short line at the check-in counter didn’t show it.
Planning to visit San Diego?
- 13 Fun Things to do in Pacific Beach San Diego
- Secret Beaches of La Jolla California
- 16 Best Things to do in La Jolla California
Check-In & Boarding With Hawaiian Airlines
The only negative thing about flying out of San Diego is that they don’t have an airport lounge affiliated with Priority Pass! If you travel a lot abroad and don’t already use Priority Pass, it’s definitely worth reading our post to find out why we use it!
→ 10 Fun Reasons to Use Priority Pass Lounges While Traveling
The boarding process was very smooth. Yet, you should always make sure to check the current rules and regulations in Hawaii. At the time of our visit, we had to complete an online form with our vaccination status and full details of the trip. While this could change in the future, it’s best to have all forms completed before arriving in Hawaii!
Hawaiian Airlines In-Air Experience
Our flight may have been technically domestic but it felt a lot like an international flight! Taking off in the morning gave us a beautiful view of San Diego as well as when we landed in Maui Hawaii!
Honestly, the flight was longer than we realized it would be. Hawaii is super far from California! On average it’s just over six hours of flight time from San Diego to Maui.
Based on the East coast of the U.S. for most of our lives, we had never visited Hawaii because it’s even further from New York or Boston. Believe it or not, it’s about 15 hours of travel and that’s direct!
Entertainment & Comfort
The seats didn’t have television screens on our flight which we knew in advance. For some, that may be unacceptable these days with air travel but it didn’t affect our opinion to review Hawaiian Airlines.
The good news is in this day and age you can download pretty much anything you want to your own device! With sleep an unlikely option in the middle of the day, we did make sure to have some movies, podcasts, and books ready on the Kindle.
The plane was clean, had leather seats, and we felt it was great for an economy class trip. Overall, we were happy with this aspect of our flight from San Diego to Maui.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
Hawaiian Airlines Review: Food & Drinks
This is where it gets fun! About halfway through the flight we were given our meal and asked if we would like a welcome drink. A complimentary alcoholic drink on a domestic flight in the U.S.? We never thought we would see the day… Unheard of!
All jokes aside it was delicious and instantly put us in the tropical spirit. Now we were starting to see why this is known as the best airline to fly to Hawaii! Aside from the fact that it was only around noon our body time, we enjoyed the wonderful boozy brunch. Hawaiian Airlines also offered a full range of soft drinks and juices with beer, wine, and spirits available for purchase.
With the price that we paid for the flight, friendly attendants, and yummy food and drinks we were very satisfied. It was one of the most enjoyable domestic flights we’ve taken in a long time.
Arriving in Maui Hawaii
If possible, try to have a window seat when landing in Hawaii! Our flight did a large loop around the different islands as we waited to land. On other flights, we may have been annoyed wanting them to hurry up and land. Yet, this was stunning and completely unexpected!
As soon as we touched down welcoming tropical music rang through the cabin and we were officially in Maui. The airport isn’t very large so we quickly made our way to the baggage claim.
We had pre-booked a rental using Discover Cars and there is a small tram that quickly transports everyone to this area. If you plan to really explore the islands then having a car is a must! It’s also best to book in advance because they can be very expensive in Hawaii.
→ 6 Things to Know Before Renting a Car on Maui Hawaii
Final Review of Hawaiian Airlines
So is it the best airline to fly to Hawaii? It’s hard to say because we haven’t flown with the other companies to this specific destination. Nevertheless, looking at the options we have flown with Delta, American Airlines, etc… And we never had such a fun and welcoming experience to other places in the U.S.
If you have the chance to book with Hawaiian Airlines definitely do so! They also offer plenty of flights between the islands to allow you to see more than once on your journey.Have any questions about this Hawaiian Airlines review or want to share what you think is the best airline to fly to Hawaii with? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where to Stay in Maui Hawaii
Ultra Luxury – Four Seasons Resort Maui – Wailea – Known as one of the most elite hotels on Maui, the Four Seasons has three swimming pools, 5-star service, and is just steps from the beach.
Fun Vacation – Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort – Wailea – This modern, upscale hotel is packed with swimming pools and ocean views.
Bed & Breakfast –Maui What a Wonderful World Bed & Breakfast – Wailea – Get all the local charm you can handle at this unique bed and breakfast. Awesome location that will provide a homey welcome to the island.
Aparthotel – Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort – Lahaina – Great for travelers looking to have a little more space and a kitchen.
Hostel Life – Hakuna Matata Maui Hostel – Lahaina – Walking distance to the town center, this hostel is set in a beautiful garden. Hakuna Matata also offers free bikes and is close to the beach.
Remote Resort – Hana Maui Resort A Destination by Hyatt – Hana – Located in the far remote part of the island along the road to Hana. Amazing resort by Hyatt offering seclusion and luxury.
For more places to stay in Maui you can explore the latest prices here!
Best Of Maui: 20 Fun Facts – Best Beaches – Must Try Food – Farmers Markets – Road to Hana Stops – Road to Hana Tips
Maui Hikes & Walk: Kapalua Coastal Trail – Bamboo Forest – Waihee Ridge Trail – Wailea Beach Walk – Maui Lava Field –11 Best Hikes
Hawaii Travel Planning
Information: Explore all our articles on Hawaii, amazing destinations around the world, and more travel planning tips!.
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we got our flight from San Diego to Maui for under $100 USD on Hawaiian Airlines!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Rental Car: Hands down the best way to explore Maui Hawaii is with a rental car! We used Discover Cars to explore the island. Just make sure to book in advance because there are limited cars on the island in the high season!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find hundreds of Maui activities. You can book a sunset sail from Lahaina, Road to Hana full day tour, or go wild and take a rainforest helicopter tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad (if you’re traveling to Hawaii from outside the USA) without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
My review of Hawaiian Airlines is NOT a good one! It feels as though the seats have gotten even smaller than before! This past year I lost over 50 pounds and the length between my hip and my knees hasn’t changed but it was so tight that my knees were pressed against the seat in front of me. It was EXTREMELY uncomfortable the entire trip, not to mention the concerns for safety should there be an emergency where passengers may have to exit the plane quickly–that couldn’t possibly happen with these smaller seats!!
The last time we flew to Hawaii was in 2019 in which we bought the “extra comfort seating”. At that time, it cost considerably less, but I cannot recall the exact pricing although I am quite certain it was under $100 roundtrip. This time, the extra comfort seats were $180 roundtrip in addition to the price for regular seating–this was an incredible shock and very disappointing! We hear ALL the time on the news that the airlines are making literally billions of dollars in profits every year, yet we’re being over-charged every year and the prices are escalating far higher than the price of inflation!
I’ve also heard there are very few airlines who are still serving a meal with their flights, so I do appreciate that Hawaiian Airlines still provides passengers with a meal, but it certainly is NOT the meal we used to get less than 5 years ago! We get a microwaved rolled up sandwich, a piece of candy, and a beverage–outrageous! We used to have a choice of what kind of meal we got–hot or cold, a salad, a roll, a beverage, and a cookie, another disappointment in their changes!
If you’re not in first class, passengers are no longer provided with a blanket and a pillow–that stopped a while ago, prior to 2019. We’ve learned to bring our own blanket and pillow since we know it will no longer be provided!
Of course, we no longer can check our bags for free, that ended quite some time ago. So, essentially, customer service is NOT a high priority with Hawaiian Airlines even though they gouge us with higher prices, lack of creature comforts such as a warm blanket, pillow, and a decent meal.
We are seriously considering only flying internationally for traveling because some of those airlines offer the customer service and attention we used to get from Hawaiian many years ago!
Thanks for the review! Important to hear about different experiences when considering your travel options.