First Class to Hawaii on American Airlines

John P Rides First Class
John P.

John P Rides First ClassI began my two week vacation to the Hawaiian Islands on Monday. During the trip I’ll be visiting Lanai, Maui and The Big Island with reviews, photos and even a few videos to follow. So, if you’re stuck at work for the next two weeks but would like to take a virtual vaction, feel free to live vicariously through my travels.

Priority Pass Travel LoungeI arrived at DFW airport a bit early, so since there was time to kill I did it in the travel lounge. Terminal D has every airline lounge imaginable, so being a member of the Priority Pass program I stopped by the club for some refreshments and relaxation.

AA AirplanesThe lounge in terminal D is quite nice with lots of free snacks, drinks, and good work space. There were only a couple of other people in the club at the time so it was very quite. It also had some great views of the runway and airplanes, and I snapped this shot from the club.

Just to make sure we’re kicking off the vacation in style, we’ll be traveling first class all the way to Hawaii via American Airlines on a Boeing 767. I snagged seat 5A so I could have a window view along the 4,000 mile journey. The weather was great so the air was pretty calm. And the ride was, well… nice and comfy.

Being a frequent flyer I’ve traveled first class many times, but never on a trans-oceanic voyage. Lets just say that there is a huge difference between first class on a 747 as compared to a 767. I’m going to try to explain all the little nuances before I forget.

  • Adjustable First Class SeatsNow, American Airlines is not known to have the most luxurious first class cabin around, but it’s definitely nothing to sneeze at. The seats are completely powered and infinitely adjustable from sitting straight up to reclining all the way to a laying down position.
  • Unlike the cattle section at the back of the plane, first class actually has two trays so you can keep a ton of stuff in front of you at the same time. Better still, the trays can be pushed together to create one large work surface about 18-20″ square.
  • First Class LegroomThe amount of legroom you have is downright impressive. I’m about 6’1″ and with the seat all the way back I could not even touch the seat back in front of me with my legs all the way out. Here you can see my backpack standing completely up under the seat in front of me. And this didn’t interfere with my legroom! Additionally, with the seat in full recline mode I’d say that it would accomodate someone about 2-3 inches taller than me.
  • Since the rear tray can be slid forward to connect with the front tray, the seat also has the ability to slide forward about a foot in order to allow you to work in that area like a desk.
  • Although they were selling crappy food in the back of the cabin, in first class we were treated to a four course meal designed by celebrity chef and TV host Sam Choy. The food still tasted pretty much like airline food, but hey it’s free and they aren’t getting anything in the back of the bus!
    • First Class MealFirst comes a small dish of warm tropical nuts accompanied by your choice of wines and followed by a nice warm, moist towel to freshen up with.
    • Next was a salad comprised of fresh greens, asparagus, tomatoes, radish ribbons, cucumbers and a roll.
    • The main course was a choice between short ribs topped with soy ginger sauce or four cheese ravioli.
    • Desert was your choice of a hand-made hot fudge sunday or fruits and cheeses.
  • In addition to normal overhead lighting which is controlled by a button on the armrest, there is also a dual-level LED on the seat in front that can be used to illuminate the front tray when it’s dark in the cabin.
  • Sleeping in First ClassThe armrests between the two seats can be raised to create a fan-like divider for privacy when sleeping beside a stranger. On the other side, the armrest will recline down below the seating surface in order to allow you to hang over a bit without discomfort.
  • Since the chairs have the ability to recline outward at the feet to raise your legs, they also have built-in foot rests so that your feet have a platform to rest on.
  • At the opposite end of the chair, the headrest will expand upward and even swivel to different angles as well as fold in on the sides to cradle your head as you sleep.
  • One last thing… in first class you get a nearly full sized pillow as well as a large thick quilted blanket to snuggle up under.

The real question that everything boils down to is, is it worth it? And this is a difficult question to answer, so I’ll give 4 different justifications:

  1. You’re on a business trip with tight schedules and you need to arrive fresh and mentally prepared. If it can make the difference between closing a huge deal and going home empty handed and tired then by all means it’s an investment.
  2. If you’ve got frequent flyer status and you’ve accumulated a boatload of miles, I can think of worse uses for them than spoiling yourself rotten with a top of the line vacation.
  3. You have so much money that it just doesn’t matter if you waste it or not.
  4. Everyone should do this at least once in their life.

While on the island of Lanai, I’ll be bedding down at the Four Seasons Resort. It’s one of the finest hotels on the planet, so I’ll post a full review whenever I’ve had enough time to check it out.


  1. Donna says

    I know!!!! I took the same flight and class and same seat. I am in Hawaii right now. Loved the flight over. Looking forward to the flight back.(never thought I’d say that)anyhoo….Needless to say, it will be my ride from here on out to Maui every year.

  2. Natasha C says

    haha I love that you called the people in economy “Cattle” that made me laugh…Im traveling first class on American Airlines in a week to Hawaii also :) Im excited…

  3. mikem says

    Very enjoyable read. However you never delivered on this: “Lets just say that there is a huge difference between first class on a 747 as compared to a 767. I’m going to try to explain all the little nuances before I forget.”

    You forgot!

    I now have a firm idea of what I could expect from the First Class 767 seating, but no idea of how it differs from the 747, or indeed which one you prefer.

    Nice post, though. Thanks.

  4. Cindy says

    Thank you, Im disabled with a bad back and leg and a nice comfortable chair would sure be good on a 5 hour flight. My husband good man that he is says because of the hardship of a plane flight, we either go were I am comfortable or not at all rather then ending up freezing and spazing in those little cubicles in the cheap seats. These seats seem closet to our reclincers at home. Thank you for sharing important info like this.

  5. says


    Well, on the flight to Hawaii the didn’t give you the little entertainment center. I read on the plane that you get those if you are going to another country, but i guess they don’t include Hawaii in there. I don’t know why, because it’s just as long of a flight in some cases…

    The good news was that the seat did indeed recline completely flat. It went down so far it was uncomfortable to me. Of course, I didn’t sleep anyway, but that’s beside the point!



  6. says


    I’m glad to hear that someone actually found this review useful. I wasn’t sure, because as far as I know it’s the only one of it’s kind. :-)

    You guys will enjoy this trip and I think you’ll find that it was well worth saving the miles up for. Your husband is going to be sooo much more comfortable than in the regular cabin. Heck, my knees hit the seat in front of me and he’s 5″ taller! I can’t imagine…

    Anyway, have fun on your trip!


  7. Kate says

    Your review was just what I’ve been looking for. We’re spending ALL of our hard-earned miles on this trip and I wanted some validation that it was worth it. I was so happy to read that you had enough room. My husband is 6’6 so space is a KEY factor.
    Great review. Thanks.

  8. Greg Lewis says


    Having had the pleasure of my company sending me to India this past spring, I too know the joys of non-coach travel. I must say that Lufthansa Long-Haul Business Class (probably equivalent to most 1st Class sections) was great for the 20 hours of flight time it took to get there.

    The one thing that really annoyed me was that though the seats had all the bells and whistles, they wouldn’t quite get to a fully horizontal position…making sleeping really tough. I guess you need to fly one of the Mid-east airlines and pay 20k for a suite for that.

    My favorite part was the entertainment package on my own personal 10″ screen…movies on demand, games, videos of planes landing at airports all over the planet, USB to charge the iPod…some international even have WiFi.

    So…give us the scoop on what you had in front of you besides that little PVP filled with hard-core rap videos from the late 80’s. I couldn’t tell the screen size, or even if there was one.


  9. says

    My God John .. that’s the most detailed and jealousy-engendering travel description I’ve ever read :)

    Exactly what I was thinking! I’m glad you’re ‘taking us along with you’, though!

  10. Evelyn says

    OH WOW, That is just too good!! There’s nothing like a great vacation even if I can just hear about someone else’s wonderful escapades. Be sure to get some super pictures of Hawaii and all it’s wonders. HAVE FUN!!

  11. says

    Wow! I live in what I consider the ultimate vacation spot and I don’t have fly to get here, but, your description is awesome. Have you sent this to American Airlines? Hey, they might just give you some free miles.

  12. says

    I’d have to agree with Urbanist. During my last flight (for work), I was cramped and sitting next to a sick guy. It. Was. Horrible. But I’m glad that some people out there are loving their flights!

  13. says

    Hey, I’m merely your humble servant. I’m only taking this trip in order to endure all of the hardships and report back for you guys so that you don’t have to do it yourselves. ;-)


  14. says

    My God John .. that’s the most detailed and jealousy-engendering travel description I’ve ever read :)

    “The main course was a choice between short ribs topped with soy ginger sauce or four cheese ravioli.”

    On my way back from Chicago I had a choice between pretzels and no pretzels. I went with the pretzels. Definitely the right choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *