Hawaiian Airlines Has A Birthday.
A little more than a month ago, Hawaiian Airlines celebrated its 86th birthday. Ownership has changed once or twice over the years and the company has been in and out of bankruptcy a couple of times, but it’s still here and, however parochial it may be, we’re proud of it.
It’s initial “fleet” consisted of two Sikorsky amphibian planes that could accommodate eight passengers. Hawaiian’s first flight took place on November 11, 1929. It was a non-stop flight from Honolulu on Oahu to Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. It took an hour and forty minutes and the passengers paid $15 each for their tickets. Today, the flight takes 36 minutes and a one-way fare will cost you anywhere from $87 to $139 depending on how early you want to get up.
Hawaiian has grown into a big airline — the 11th largest in the U.S., I believe —with a total of 53 planes, 33 of which are Airbus 330s or Boeing 767s used on the trans-Pacific service. That covers a lot of territory: eight cities on the U.S. West Coast, plus Phoenix, Las Vegas and a non-stop from Honolulu back east to Kennedy airport in New York City. Heading west, Hawaiian flies to Australia, the Philippines, Guam, Japan, Korea and China; and due south to Tahiti and Samoa.
The airline has a couple of “claims-to-fame”, too. I was an unwitting participant in one of them, probably 25 years ago. I was on a Hawaiian flight from Molokai to Honolulu when they announced that we had the first all-female crew in the history of U.S. commercial aviation: pilot, co-pilot and two flight attendants … all women. The second is impressive: in its entire 86 year history, Hawaiian Airlines has never had a serious accident (knock wood).
All that said, I must also say that Hawaiian has adopted most of the same practices that irritate airline passengers everywhere: reduced legroom to squeeze in more rows of seats, seats where they give you back the same legroom for an additional fee, and fees for checked bags. But the Hawaiian employees are still genuinely friendly and seem to like their jobs. It’s also worth noting—as well as notable—that Hawaiian Airlines still serves it’s coach passengers a complimentary meal on all its trans-Pacific flights.
And one more thing: Take another look at that photo of Hawaiian’s A-330. Now … tell me that’s not the most beautiful livery in the skies!