Flying High Prices

So, as I mentioned I went to Hawaii last week and sadly am not there now. I went snorkeling with sea turtles, enjoyed tropical sunshine etc etc etc. So naturally, instead of blogging about any of that I’m going to complain about airlines for a few paragraphs. Or will I? Click to find out, if you dare…

I’m not actually done with my travels (just the fun part) so I was on 2 different airlines to and from Hawaii. the first leg was a 9 hour flight with Air New Zealand, the second 5 hours on Hawaiian Airlines. Despite what the airlines themselves will tell you, I consider both of those long haul and I’m definitely judging them as such. Luckily long-haul flying is most of my flying experience so I have plenty to compare them to.

The big surprise I had was how much of what I’m used to being standard is an optional extra. Both airlines charged extra for a checked bag, although ANZ were at least nice enough to make that extremely obvious at booking, with Hawaiian we only found out at the airport. ANZ even charge extra for the in-flight meal – on a 9 hour flight! Luckily, you have to be at the airport so far in advance these days we had plenty of time to eat a substantial meal at a bar and grill before boarding.

It’s amazing what is a paid-for extra now. Hawaiian charge you for a blanket if you’re cold, so goodbye any notion you still had that the flight attendants are there to ease your way through the air. Not without cash, they won’t (Well, actually it’s cards only).

By far the change that I felt the most was the in flight entertainment. The most recent flight I took, the only diversions were the in-flight magazine and a few screens showing pub quiz questions. I considered that completely acceptable; the flight was just less than an hour. I’ve been on longer bus trips. On bigger flights like this Hawaii trip, I’d want a small selection of films, some recent, a few full/half seasons of TV shows from the past few years and a flight map.

ANZ had, by far, the best flight map I’ve ever encountered. Well done! However, they did charge for all films. I watched a Star Wars cartoon until falling asleep instead; it wasn’t demanding so worked out quite well

Hawaiian didn’t do so good. Their flight map was basic and they charged for everything. It wasn’t cheap, either. I suppose that’s relative though, US$8 for a recentish film actually compares favourably with a movie ticket in a normal theatre. Of course… with a standard film ticket, the screen is considerably larger. The sound is surround, with no constant engine noise in the background (and if you don’t bring your own headphones for flights, Hawaiian have solved the problem of the free headphones being terrible – they sell them to you now.). Theatres also very rarely interrupt the feature to make announcements about turbulence or, more frequently, about the drinks trolley coming by with snacks for sale. To be fair to Hawaiian, snack prices were probably on par with the average movie theatre.

For my needs though, it’s far more than I’m willing to pay for something I just want to fall asleep to. In Hawaiian’s credit, they did serve a meal midflight which they munificently refrained from charging for. It was good, if a little on the cold side but the mere fact of its existence is a clear win over the much longer ANZ flight.

Still, I greatly preferred the ANZ flight. I can go a night without eating, but I definitely need something to distract me from the fact I’m in a metal tube surrounded by strangers. Hawaiian promised “a journey that’s special” or some similar marketese, but with only Hawaiian’s own promotional videos as entertainment I’ll just remember it as “a flight that was boring”.

I’m told that Hawaiian is one of the best US domestic airlines. People who have to fly in the US, you have my sympathy. Oh, and make sure to dress warm for your next trip. I’m sure in-flight heating is next on the microtransaction list.

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