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Hawaiian Airlines unveils stunning business-class, economy cabins on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner

May 15, 2023
8 min read
Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class Economy C
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Say aloha to an upgraded flying experience when traveling with Hawaiian Airlines.

On Monday, the Honolulu-based carrier officially unveiled the cabins for its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which will start entering the fleet in November.

The business-class cabin features an all-new seat for Hawaiian, dubbed the Leihoku Suite. Meanwhile, the economy cabin features amenities that should make for a more comfortable ride, including seatback screens, power ports and more.

A handful of other nose-to-tail touches will undoubtedly make this plane the flagship in Hawaiian’s fleet.

With 12 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order, you’ll soon see these fuel-efficient planes crisscrossing the Pacific to destinations across the mainland and Asia.

Here’s everything you need to know about Hawaiian’s new Dreamliners.

Business class on Hawaiian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

When its Dreamliners enter service, Hawaiian Airlines will finally offer a top-notch business-class product. These twin-aisle jets will feature 34 business-class suites spread across seven rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.


Hawaiian went with Adient Aerospace's Ascent product for its business-class cabin; the carrier is marketing it as the Leihoku, or garland of stars, suite.

Though Hawaiian is being touted as the launch customer for this new product, Qatar Airways actually already flies these suites on board its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. (Hawaiian was supposed to be the first airline to fly the Ascent product, but delivery delays meant that Qatar beat it to the punch.)

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In fact, I've flown the Ascent product on Qatar's Dreamliners, and it's a supremely comfortable pod, especially once the sliding doors are closed.


Perhaps most interestingly, the product blends an outward- and inward-facing layout across the cabin. The window pods face away from the aisle to maximize privacy, while the center seats face each other.

Though this layout may not be desirable in markets with lots of solo flyers, it actually works perfectly for Hawaiian's leisure-focused demographic.


That's because most of the carrier's flyers aren't traveling for business. "We have a lot more couples, we've got a lot more families, we have a lot more women actually in the business-class cabin," Avi Mannis, chief marketing and communications officer at Hawaiian Airlines, said in an interview with TPG.


The center seats in this product are going to be perfect for the carrier's demographic, Mannis added. Flyers can lower the three-tiered privacy partition to the floor. Once the suite doors are closed, they can "create this really lovely living room experience for two people traveling together ... we think that's going to be incredibly appealing for our market," he said.

Other amenities include an 18-inch entertainment screen, universal AC, USB-A and USB-C outlets and Qi wireless charging pads.


When it's time to rest, each seat converts into a fully lie-flat bed. Better yet, Hawaiian even installed starry ceiling lights above the business-class cabin to enhance the sleep experience on its Dreamliners. This is a premium feature popularized by Emirates that I haven't seen a U.S. airline copy yet.


Hawaiian is marketing this mood lighting as evoking the constellations that guided Polynesian voyagers at night. This is part of the design strategy that the airline created with famed consultant Teague to honor Pacific naval navigation in a modern aircraft.

Economy class on Hawaiian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

In addition to business class, the Dreamliners will boast 266 economy seats in an industry-standard 3-3-3 configuration. The airline tapped Collins Aerospace to deliver the manufacturer's popular Aspire seat in coach.


Hawaiian touts that these seats feature more shoulder and hip room thanks to a modern design, but they're not nearly as well padded as some other economy seats in the skies.

While most seats will offer 31 inches of pitch, 79 economy seats will be sold as Extra Comfort, offering 4 more inches of pitch, additional legroom and access to universal AC outlets.


All coach seats, including those in the Extra Comfort section, will feature USB-A and USB-C charging ports, as well as 12-inch seatback TV screens.

Nose-to-tail features on Hawaiian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Hawaiian likes to infuse local culture into the passenger experience, and that design ethos is very much making its way on board the carrier's new Dreamliners. "We pushed for customization of little details that others wouldn't have thought of or bothered with," Mannis said.

The welcome area next to Door 2L is inspired by Hawaii's native wood grains, while the purple overhead light in this area is patterned like a local flower.


The nose-to-tail mood lighting supposedly reflects scenes from the Hawaiian archipelago, including soft daylight and soothing sunrises and sunsets. The carpeting's deep aqua color is designed to give an ocean vibe.


Other touches include the Hawaiian language integrated into the seat numbers and on placards throughout the plane. Even the lavatory occupancy signs are designed with Hawaiian dresses and shirts for the female and male figures.


No matter where you look, you'll easily recognize that you're flying with Hawaiian Airlines.

What’s missing on Hawaiian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Several notable things are missing from Hawaiian's new Dreamliners.

The first is a premium economy cabin. This cabin has soared in popularity in recent years, as it offers an elevated experience that largely mimics domestic first class without breaking the bank for a lie-flat business-class suite.

The Big Three U.S. airlines all fly jets equipped with premium economy on select long-haul routes to Hawaii, yet the state's flag carrier decided not to invest in this cabin on the Dreamliner.

"Our sense was that the demand was such that the cabin would have to be quite small," Mannis said. He said that a one- or two-row premium economy cabin wouldn't be economically viable because of all the extra bulkhead and galley space that would be necessary to support such a product.


Furthermore, Hawaiian's Dreamliners won't feature Bluetooth connectivity to pair your AirPods or other wireless headphones with the seatback entertainment system. That's a shame for a brand-new plane delivered in 2023.

Another missing amenity is power outlets in the standard economy seats. However, that was an intentional choice on Hawaiian's part — partly to convince some flyers to upgrade to the Extra Comfort seats, which do feature outlets.

Finally, the Dreamliners will not initially be fitted with Wi-Fi. Though Hawaiian has partnered with Elon Musk's Starlink to offer fast and free Wi-Fi across its medium- and long-haul fleet, the Dreamliners won't feature internet access until "the next year or so," according to Mannis.

As surprising as it may seem, Hawaiian is prioritizing other planes for Starlink installations before the Dreamliner.

Bottom line

Hawaiian's Dreamliners look like a massive improvement compared to its existing Airbus A330s, especially for those seated in the pointy end of the plane.

With a top-notch product that features direct aisle access and sliding doors, Hawaiian will soon offer one of the best premium products on routes to and from Hawaii.

Hawaiian will take delivery of its first of 12 Dreamliners in November, with the remaining deliveries planned through 2027.

The airline will start flying the planes to the West Coast, where it operates maintenance bases, before deploying its 787s on longer routes to Boston, Sydney and beyond.

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Featured image by HAWAIIAN AIRLINES
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