Trip Report – United’s Longest Non-Stop Domestic Flight – Newark – Honolulu in BusinessFirst

Being based in New York, I’m normally a Caribbean guy, but I decided to give the non-stop United Newark (EWR) to Honolulu (HNL) flight a try in “First” (it’s a BusinessFirst seat) on the 767-400ER. The trip came about thanks to a Hyatt diamond suite upgrade that I was able to confirm at the Andaz Maui. I redeemed 46,000 United MileagePlus miles for the one-way from New York to Maui (OGG). There are actually quite a few programs that offer a cheaper redemption for that same non-stop United flight outside of MileagePlus, but I wanted the Island Air partner connection onwards to Maui since my friend was already booked on that flight. On United’s own metal, a one-way award would have been 40,000 points, the Island Air connection added an additional 6,000 miles to the price, not really a big deal with my current MileagePlus balance. Buying the last minute one way Island Air flight would have been cheaper, but this was just easier (and sometimes that’s important too…just not often). In any case, I was actually really excited to fly on United’s longest domestic flight (11 hours and 23 minutes and 4,962 miles)…and more importantly, have lie-flat seating all the way from New York to Hawaii.

This is part one of a five part trip report from my recent travels to Maui.

Premier Access priority boarding, though by the time we arrived from the lounge there was no one remaining in the gate area…

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As it does on it’s international routes, the 767-400ER has BusinessFirst configured in a 2-1-2 flat-bed seating layout. Seats have a 180 degree recline and a width of 21 inches. I actually found my seat much more comfortable than my recent Delta ONE B777-200LR seat on the longer SYD-LAX flight (see – Trip Report & Review – Delta ONE Sydney (SYD) – LAX (BusinessElite)), though Delta service killed the sub-par United service I received on this flight. Pillow and blankets were provided, but don’t expect any turn-down service!

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USB and regular power outlets at each seat as well as a TV with a far superior picture than the worn out Delta 777s. Quite the decent library for this “domestic” flight as well.

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Warm towels and OJ/champagne were handed out upon boarding.  Besides meal delivery, that’s sort of where the service ended.  The flight attendants clearly felt that they were simply working a long domestic flight.

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No menus were provided for meal options (again this is sold as a First Class flight, not BusinessFirst), but we were given the following choices:

Breakfast

  • Eggs with turkey bacon and spinach accompanied by a fruit platter and Greek yogurt
  • Cold cereal accompanied by a fruit platter and Greek yogurt
  • Biscuits provided to all

I went with the hot option and was impressed by the amount of food for the domestic breakfast…

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Lunch

  • Tomato soup with a chicken wrap
  • Tomato soup with a vegetable wrap

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Besides meals, we saw the flight attendants 3-4 times for water refills in First…that was all! Snack baskets were in the galleys (as were all the flight attendants). Snacks included kettlecorn, brownie brittle (amazing), bananas, almonds, and chips.

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This was my favorite interaction with one of the flight attendants as I walked into the galley about 6 hours into the flight (this was my second time asking for water).

Adam – Hi, can I get a refill of water (only those tiny Dasani water bottles were provided and no one was coming around often enough)
Flight Attendant – Here, just take this bottle (the large Dasani one they use to fill up everyone’s glasses) so you don’t need to keep asking. I’ll kill you if you tell anyone that you got it from us.

My least favorite thing on this flight was the pre-recorded message to ensure that your seat-belt was fastened.  This was a long flight and people sleep, some with the headphones on and connected to the IFE system.  Each time the announcement would come on (at least 8 times on this flight over the ocean) it would blare through both your headphones and the cabin speakers. Why not just illuminate the light? The volume used for these announcements was unbelievable (see the notice on the TV below).

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Despite the above, I’m really happy I selected this flight. I was not expecting international BusinessFirst service or food. I simply wanted the lie-flat seat and a direct flight from New York to Hawaii. I truly enjoyed the seat/bed, IFE system, and the food was fine (I had more brownie brittle than necessary). This flight was by far better than the domestic First options I would have otherwise had to take on any connection from ORD, DFW, DEN, SFO, LAX, SEA, etc.  More on the easy connection to Island Air in the next post.

BTW, while this is United’s longest domestic flight on the return, Hawaiian’s JFK flight is actually 19 miles longer.

Need assistance with your next award trip? Consider the Juicy Miles award booking service for all your redemption needs.

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Comments

  1. Interesting. Nice review. I “get” why flights to Hawaii are neglected by the airlines but I think it’s a mistake. Someone will eventually up the game and will reap the rewards.

  2. The airlines are required by the FAA to audibly announce that they turned on the seat belt sign for visually impaired passengers. Granted, I agree the announcement is too long, versus a quick “Seatbelt”. from the Captain.

  3. “My least favorite thing on this flight was the pre-recorded message to ensure that your seat-belt was fascinated.”

    I’m sure the amount of flights the seat-belt has seen, nothing fascinates it about the trip anymore.

  4. Thanks for the 2016 review! I’ve read older reviews of this flight but I don’t think there’s any recent reviews of this flight (other than this one). I’m booked along with 4 family members on this flight (RT from BOS-HNL via EWR) and while it’s our first time in lie flat first, I’m seriously dreading the trip as I’ve been spoiled by VX/B6 and HA service in the past (even in Economy!) My sincere hope is that we get an enthusiastic crew regardless of crew age. We’re going for Pearl Harbor day with my 91 year old grandfather who’s a WWII vet and in the past we’ve taken HA’s Extra Comfort as well as JetBlue connections where the FA’s have fawned all over him, made announcements on the PA and in general looked after him the whole flight with water, extra food and snacks. I’ll most definitely get a little care package for the FA’s with a note thanking them for their work (as a union member I understand why they might be frustrated/angry/indifferent-but don’t take it out on the pax!)

  5. I flew the nonstop to Hawaii with my husband first class in October 2016. It was my first time in first class and I was very excited. Started off great with warm towels, champagne and a beautifully served breakfast. After that we were ignored. Help yourself snacks were grudgingly offered but not announced. There was No Lunch or other food offered. We did help ourselves to two bags of almonds. The attendants stayed in their cabin unit after the first 2 hours and were not seen until 1 hour or so prior to landing. I have flown United on transcontinental shorter flights in economy and received more attention and food. Everyone leaving the 11 hour flight to Hawaii were searching for food. I would not recommend Hawaii 1st class on United to anyone!!! Kudos to the pilots for a smooth flight. Thumbs down to cabin attendants and food service

  6. UPDATE:

    Service has now declined even further.

    If you don’t agree with, or are critical of their level of customer service – you are now beat up and literally dragged you off the plane !!!

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