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Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:46 pm

Long Haul US East coast to HNL - comparing UA and DL

Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:51 pm

Hello. Long time lurker but wanted to join to share my recent experience on UA 63 (EWR to HNL) and compare to DL's long-haul flight (ATL-HNL). Plus, reading A.net prepared me when Island Air shut down. Sorry, no pictures.

For me, there's nothing like visiting Hawaii. I've been six times in the past 5 years. Due to my wife's illness, I go by myself and can only be gone a few days, so the flight itself is part of the overall "vacation" experience and I fly first.

Hometown airport is now BDL. Choices for this most recent trip were between UA through EWR on a 764, or DL through ATL on the A333. Unfortunately, American doesn't have an early enough flight to make a connection at DFW to get on the 772. For this trip, UA first was less expensive, so they were the winner. I previously took this flight a few years ago when it departed in the afternoon and arrived in HNL around 7:00 pm.

In April, I flew DL's A333 to ATL-HNL so I'll provide my thoughts on the two journeys.

In short, however, while UA's flight was fine, DL's flight and overall experience offered something a little more special.

BDL-EWR. 6:00 a.m. flight, uneventful. Very anxious when I booked, though, because when weather is bad, this flight can get cancelled, especially if it's UA Express. Luckily, the rain in EWR started only after we boarded to HNL, so no problem with delays, and we took off on time.

Airport (EWR) experience. I was a bit dismayed to find out that the United Club in Terminal C is being renovated, and, as a result you can't use a One Time pass. Since I don't fly too often I'm not a member of any airline club, but I always buy the 1-day pass for a snack and trying out the shower facilities. More important, the connecting time was only 1 hour between landing and boarding, so that would have been cutting it close. Airport experience edge goes to DL and ATL. The 6:00 a.m. BDL-ATL gives me about 2 hours including the walk from A/B to E or F where the HNL flight departs, and that's plenty of time to enjoy the club facilities (and shower).

Seat - 764 vs A333. I like the 764 and this time took 6D (which is a single seat in the middle), having aisle access on both sides. Seatguru is correct that they serve from the back (quicker), but you get bumped on both sides. This compares to DL's seat. The UA seat is angled less than the DL reverse herringbone, so a better feel than sitting sideways on takeoff than on the A333. Also, it was easier to get out of the UA seat when it was fully extended, than in the DL seat, maybe slightly less of a coffin feel. (First world problems, but I get up a lot). Both UA and DL had wide selection of movies and TV. However, UA didn't offer any music through their IFE. I searched through Audio and it only had Podcasts, but no music. That's a bit of a miss, for me, since having background music is nice when reading. For those UA folks, did i just miss it? Comfort wise, both UA and DL seats are good for long haul flights, but with DL having window seats with aisle access, they get the nod.

Flight Experience - Here is really where DL has something extra. While UA has Hawaiian music playing, there was nothing else on the flight saying "Hawaii". DL gives out Mai Tai's on it's Hawaii bound and departing flights. That makes it special, and the FA's on DL seem to be in a good mood and enjoy handing them out. The DL FA's were also much more welcoming as we boarded, laughing and joking. It just seemed to start the journey off a bit more special. DL provides Tumi amenity kits, while UA does not, and I'd say DL treats the flight more in their "international long-haul" style than UA does (this didn't feel like the new Polaris service). Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

Food - Because the UA EWR-HNL flight leaves at 8:30, initial meal was breakfast, which was fine. The "mid-flight" snack was fine as well, but nothing special. I say "mid-flight" because UA served it right about 5:30 to go (so halfway), right as we headed past the California coastline. I was kind of surprised that it wasn't served closer to landing, let's say 2-3 hours to go. Foodwise, thought, DL really shines here and has stepped it up, and I noticed a change between 2016 and 2017 when i took the same flight. DL provides menus of the options (none on UA), and both meals were really good. I recall taking the EWR-HNL flight in 2013 when it was a 1:00 pm flight, the lunch and pre-landing were better quality.

Restrooms. I only mention this because it's kind of funny. On the A333, there are 2 restrooms behind the cockpit for first class. On the 764, the restrooms for first are behind the mid-cabin galley, and basically in the economy section. Announcements are made these are for first class, and there's a see-through curtain, but you kind of feel bad for the folks in those first economy rows having to watch all the first class passengers use them.

All in all, I enjoyed my UA flight and please don't interpret my comments as bashing them. Would I take UA again, sure. For those of you on this forum who work for UA, feel free to share my thoughts about some of the little things. For example, for the pre-flight drink, UA could offer guava or papaya juice (similar to HA) or develop their own signature Hawaiian-style cocktail that would be suitable for a 8:30 flight or for later in the flight. Maybe as part of IFE, they offer Hawaiian selections of Hawaiian-themed movies or music (HA does this, of course). For food, could UA offer more of a Hawaiian themed menu for the main or pre-arrival snack? I know catering isn't flight specific, but that could enhance the Hawaiian feel during the flight.

Island Air. My flight BDL-EWR-LIH was November 13th. I had been reading A.net a few weeks ago, and read about the bankruptcy filing, so I immediately purchased a HA HNL-EWR ticket just in case Island Air shut down. As it happened, on Friday, Nov. 10th at 2:30 I received the email from United they were ceasing operations and was advised they would be contacting me in the next few days (not an option) or I could call, which I did. I got through in about 1/2 hour, even before the reservations representative knew about it. She had to put me on hold to find out what I was talking about. Anyway, once back on, they were very quick to rebook me on HA, a different flight. So as it turned out, I was booked on 2 HA flights HNL-LIH on the same day, and I used the one I purchased since it was earlier (and as it turns out, non-refundable - oops). Thank you to United for the proactive email notification.

Thanks for letting me share my observations.
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Re: Long Haul US East coast to HNL - comparing UA and DL

Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:54 am

Nice report. Thanks for sharing. Can you tell me what are the flight times EWR-HNL and ATL-HNL? I´d appreciate it. Regards.
Topic Author
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: Long Haul US East coast to HNL - comparing UA and DL

Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:06 pm

UA 63 EWR-HNL currently scheduled for approx. 8:30 departure and 2:30-2:45 arrival. DL 837 ATL-HNL is scheduled 11:00 departure with 4:00 p.m. arrival. In Daily savings time, you arrive an hour earlier in HNL so there are more connection options to the outer islands.
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Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:11 am

Re: Long Haul US East coast to HNL - comparing UA and DL

Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:01 am

Always interested in flying to Hawaii one day, and hopefully I get rights in the premium cabin as well. I would take the A333 over the 764 for the aisle access, but also the quality of service. I think the seats are probably better on the west coast (where I'm from, and likely the 763 for DL on transcon flights) with their 763 product being sorta okay
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Re: Long Haul US East coast to HNL - comparing UA and DL

Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:22 am

This was a great comparison report. Thank you for posting. I have flown NYC-HNL multiple times (mainly on the CO then UA nonstop, from EWR) and once on the Delta 767-300ER that has operated seasonally, for a few weeks in the winter time. The UA 767-400 is just fine. I've flown up front in BusinessFirst (now Polaris) and in Economy Plus/Economy and I've done Delta Economy only from JFK. The difference here is really the service culture, or the perception that DL's is a cut above UA's and it is. Both airlines have powerful brands. Delta has gone the extra step to create the perception that it is a more "service" oriented airline than at previous times in its history and more of an innovator, and in some ways it is. It is simply a better run business than United all around. It is faster at renovating planes and through various gimmicks like refurbishing planes to a higher degree, complete with branding on the inside, it creates the aura of a better product. It has a stronger management team and seems to avoid a lot of the issues that have plagued UA, though not IT issues. United though has a powerful, profitable, and huge hub under one roof in the NY area, and that DL, B6, or AA cannot replicate. United has proven the route makes money (it has flown continuously since CO restarted it in 1997) and the Polaris cabin is a strong step in the right direction, but it is taking UA way to long to roll it out across the system. I've had good flights on both and not great ones on each. The UA schedule is actually a good one. It's a 10h30 flight so the 8:30AM departure gets you there earlier in the day. The advantage here is the nonstop. Both do it. DL only for a few weeks. Your other choice is HA.
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Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:35 pm

Re: Long Haul US East coast to HNL - comparing UA and DL

Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:27 am

Good information in your report,

For my money (I live in the New York Hudson Valley), it’s worth the trek to JFK to catch the Hawaiian A330 nonstop. Like you, I’m a rather latecomer to Hawaii, but have vacationed there four times in four years. My experience with HA has always been very positive, even in Economy. Newark is much more convenient for me, and perhaps someday I’ll try United’s nonstop.

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