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Flying to Hawaii? Here's what to expect with inflight food and beverages

Feb. 20, 2021
11 min read
Beach and waterfront in Maui, Hawaii
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated to include Delta's full meal service in Delta One from Minneapolis (MSP) and Atlanta (ATL) to Honolulu (HNL).

With international travel restrictions still largely preventing Americans from leaving the country, many are looking for their next getaway a bit closer to home — and Hawaii naturally fits that bill. Despite some early hiccups, the Aloha State has reopened to visitors, albeit with some stringent testing and pre-registration requirements to keep COVID-19 under control across the islands.

And while reaching Hawaii from the U.S. mainland is relatively easy, the state's location means that you'll still need to spend at least five hours in the air. As a result, the food-and-beverage selections on these flights is critical to know if you're planning a trip there.

Here's everything you need to know about what the major U.S. airlines are offering onboard flights to Hawaii right now.

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Alaska Airlines

At the time of writing, Alaska is offering the following flights from the U.S. to Hawaii:

  • Honolulu (HNL) and Kahului, Maui (OGG) are currently served from Anchorage (ANC), Los Angeles (LAX), Portland (PDX), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC) and Seattle (SEA) — with additional flights from San Francisco (SFO) and Oakland (OAK) scheduled to relaunch in April and May, respectively.
  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH) doesn't have any current service on Alaska, but the carrier will relaunch flights from Seattle (SEA) in March and numerous other cities in May.
  • Kailua, Kona (KOA) is currently served from Anchorage (ANC), Portland (PDX), San Diego (SAN), San Jose (SJC) and Seattle (SEA) — with Oakland and Los Angeles flights stated to relaunch in May.

If you're booked on any of these flights, here's what you can expect.

First class

At the front of the plane, passengers can expect a limited selection of non-alcoholic drinks — including Coke products, orange juice, coffee, tea and bottled water. You can also enjoy a pair of beer selections from Fremont Brewing along with red or white wine.

Alaska also provides a complimentary snack basket along with a more substantial meal — either a ham and egg breakfast wrap (for morning departures through 10 a.m.) or a harvest smoked turkey sandwich (for departures after 10 a.m.). Finally, first-class passengers can enjoy the carrier's signature fruit and cheese platter from 5 a.m. through 8 p.m. — though pre-orders are highly recommended, which can be done starting two weeks prior to your flight's departure.

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Premium Class

If you're flying in Alaska's domestic premium economy product, you'll enjoy the same drink selection as first class passengers for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. However, your food offerings are limited to the aforementioned fruit and cheese platter — and you're required to pre-order it (up until 20 hours before your flight).

Economy

In regular economy, passengers are limited to the same set of non-alcoholic beverages listed above. They can also purchase the fruit and cheese platter, and pre-orders are required.

Related: I just traveled to Hawaii: Here’s what it’s like for tourists right now

American Airlines

American's in-flight service to Hawaii is notably slimmed down. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

At the time of writing, American is offering the following flights from the U.S. to Hawaii:

  • Honolulu (HNL) is currently served from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX) and Phoenix (PHX) — with Charlotte (CLT) flights scheduled to relaunch in May.
  • Kahului, Maui (OGG) is currently served from Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH) doesn't have any current service on American — though flights are scheduled to relaunch from Phoenix and Los Angeles in March and April, respectively.
  • Kailua, Kona (KOA) is currently served from Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Phoenix — though the DFW flights are slated to end as of April 5.

Here's what to expect if you're booked on American to Hawaii.

First and business class

Travelers in the front of the plane will enjoy complimentary fresh snacks along with packaged snacks, water, canned drinks and juice. Alcohol will be available as well — though no drinks will be served prior to departure.

American has resumed serving meals on these flights, but they will be served on a single tray rather than courses.

Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin

Service in both Main Cabin Extra and regular economy will be much more limited, consisting of pretzels or Biscoff cookies along with a choice of water, canned drinks or juice. No alcohol is served, and there's no additional food for purchase.

Related: Kauai expanding resort bubbles; 10 reasons to visit Timbers Resort in Hawaii

Delta Airlines

At the time of writing, Delta is offering the following flights from the U.S. to Hawaii:

  • Honolulu is currently served from Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), Minneapolis (MSP), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Seattle (SEA).
  • Kahului, Maui is currently served from Los Angeles (LAX), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Seattle (SEA).
  • Lihue, Kauai and Kailua, Kona are both currently served from Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle (SEA).

Here's what to expect if you're booked on Delta to Hawaii.

Delta One and first class

Passengers traveling in first class on most flights to Hawaii will be limited to 8.5-ounce bottles of water along with complimentary wine and beer. Unfortunately, the food offerings are limited to individually-packaged Flight Fuel boxes and other snacks.

Note that Delta's website says that all domestic flights follow this service model. However, reports indicate that the carrier's two longest flights flights to Honolulu — out of Atlanta and Minneapolis — are being treated like long-haul international routes in Delta One, including a hot meal and a full selection of beverage options.

Comfort+ and Main Cabin

Travelers in Comfort+ and regular economy on most flights will have notably slimmer service — just bottled water and two prepackaged snacks. However, on flights from Atlanta and Minneapolis to Honolulu, Comfort+ and economy passengers will still enjoy a meal and beverage service.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines offers some of the most extensive onboard service (and flight options) to the Aloha State right now. (Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

At the time of writing, Hawaiian is offering the following flights from the U.S. to Hawaii:

  • Honolulu (HNL) is currently served from Boston (BOS), Las Vegas (LAS), Long Beach (LGB), Los Angeles (LAX), New York-JFK, Oakland (OAK), Phoenix (PHX), Portland (PDX), Sacramento (SMF), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC) and Seattle (SEA). In addition, it plans to launch nonstop flights to Orlando (MCO) and Austin (AUS) in March and April, respectively.
  • Kahului, Maui (OGG) is currently served from Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle — and flights are scheduled to relaunch from Long Beach and Las Vegas in March and April, respectively.
  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH) doesn't have any current service on Hawaiian — though flights are scheduled to relaunch from Los Angeles and Oakland in April.
  • Kailua, Kona (KOA) doesn't have any current service on Hawaiian — though flights are scheduled to relaunch from Los Angeles in April.

Here's what to expect if you're booked on Hawaiian Airlines to the Aloha State.

First class

For starters, Hawaiian has pushed pre-departure beverage service in first class to take place shortly after takeoff — to minimize mask removal while economy passengers are boarding. In addition, beverages are limited to canned and bottled selections on all flights other than the long-haul departures to/from Boston and New York-JFK — where poured beverages remain an option.

For meals, Hawaiian is taking a similar approach as American: All first-class passengers will still enjoy full meal service but on a single tray rather than in courses.

Economy class

Passengers in the main cabin will receive complimentary bottled water but are limited to canned and bottled beverages on all West Coast departures and arrivals (long-haul flights to/from Boston and New York-JFK can still receive poured beverages). All travelers — regardless of flight length — will still receive a complimentary sandwich, though these are pre-packaged and vary depending on the time and direction of travel (more details at this link).

Read more: 6 things you need to know about flying Hawaiian Airlines right now

Southwest Airlines

Southwest's usually-limited service is even more trimmed down at the moment, even on flights to Hawaii. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

At the time of writing, Southwest is offering the following flights from the U.S. to Hawaii:

  • Honolulu (HNL) is currently served from Oakland (OAK), Sacramento (SMF), San Diego (SAN) and San Jose (SLC) — and is scheduled to launch flights from Long Beach (LGB) in March.
  • Kahului, Maui (OGG) is currently served from Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose — and is scheduled to launch flights from Long Beach in March.
  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH) doesn't have any current service on Southwest — though flights are scheduled to commence from Oakland and San Jose in June.
  • Kailua, Kona (KOA) is currently served from both Oakland and San Jose.

Southwest usually offers limited snacks and beverages on its planes, but this has been slimmed down even more due to the pandemic. All flights across the carrier's network that cover more than 250 miles — including those to Hawaii — only serve water and snacks. There's no alcohol service at all. As a result, you'll want to bring your own food and drinks on your Southwest flights to Hawaii.

Read more: 10 things to expect on Southwest flights to Hawaii

United Airlines

At the time of writing, United is offering the following flights from the U.S. to Hawaii:

  • Honolulu (HNL) is currently served from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) — with flights from Newark (EWR) and Washington-Dulles (IAD) scheduled to relaunch in March and April, respectively. It also has plans to fly nonstop to HNL from Orange County (SNA) starting in May.
  • Kahului, Maui (OGG) is currently served from Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco — with Newark flights slated to launch in June.
  • Lihue, Kauai (LIH) is currently served from Denver and San Francisco — with flights from Los Angeles slated to relaunch in March.
  • Kailua, Kona (KOA) is currently served from Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco — with flights from Chicago-O'Hare scheduled to launch in June.
  • Hilo (ITO) doesn't currently have any United flights, but service is planned from Los Angeles starting March 4.

Here's what to expect if you're booked on United to Hawaii.

First class

Travelers in United's premium cabins will enjoy complimentary beverages — including beer, wine and liquor — on all flights to and from Hawaii. For food, all first-class passengers will receive a choice of a sandwich and one of the carrier's snack boxes. However, for Hawaii flights departing from or arriving into Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark and Washington-Dulles, you'll also receive a main meal (on one tray) along with a selection from a pre-arrival snack basket.

Economy class

If you're booked in United economy, you'll enjoy a selection of complimentary non-alcoholic, sealed beverages — though no alcohol is available to purchase. You'll also receive a pre-packaged snack bag with a wrapped sanitizer wipe, a bottle of water and two snacks.

However, a recent report from Live and Let's Fly indicates that, as of Mar. 4, United will once again begin offering limited, buy-on-board options for economy-class passengers on the following routes:

  • Chicago-O'Hare to/from Honolulu
  • Chicago-O'Hare to/from Kahului, Maui
  • Houston to/from Honolulu
  • Newark to/from Honolulu

It's unclear whether this will be similar to the Denver relaunch of buy-on-board snacks, beer and wine from last November, but it's certainly an upgrade to the carrier's in-flight offerings — though may lead to more maskless time for passengers.

We've reached out to United for further clarification and will update this story if we receive any additional details.

Related: United Airlines simplifies COVID-19 screening for passengers headed to Hawaii

Bottom line

No one likes taking a five-plus hour flight with limited food-and-beverage options, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made that a necessity. If you're booked on a flight to or from Hawaii in the near future, be sure to carefully review what your given airline is offering along these lines — and then plan ahead to avoid being hungry (or thirsty) upon arrival.

Featured image by (Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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