In Flight: On the inaugural United HNL-IAD flight

With three different inaugural flights over a seven day span inevitably one of them was going to be a let-down from the celebration perspective. For my week it was the inaugural United Airlines flight from Honolulu to Dulles. Part of that is because they didn’t really celebrate the eastbound flight as a party nearly as much as the westbound inaugural (though big thanks to the few from the HNL station who did host the party they did have; y’all are great!) and part if it is because this was a redeye flight and I was suffering from ridiculous jetlag by this point. All I really wanted once on board was a quick meal and to fall asleep. Fortunately that part of the plan worked perfectly.


The flight is operated by a legacy Continental 767-400 in the 76H configuration. These planes fly almost exclusively between the islands and the mainland and they are configured more or less to meet that goal. They have an upgraded premium cabin seat versus other domestic flights but they are not the latest nd greatest flat-bed seats. Still, they recline quite far and I have no trouble sleeping on them for a few hours, especially on a redeye.


Once airborne there is a meal service offered. Two choices up front (I chose the veggie ravioli) is a downgrade from the glory days of service in the long haul HNL routes where Continental used to market the route as a truly premium product. Alas, those days are long gone and I’ll take what I can get. There was a separate salad and appetizer course (smoked salmon) prior to the meal as well.



It was reasonably tasty, though I didn’t have particularly high expectations at this point, especially having gorged on L&L about 6 hours prior and on cake in the pre-flight celebration. Also, there was an ice cream sundae for dessert. I actually passed on the sundae and went to sleep. I’m a bit disappointed in myself on that one, but I really was exhausted.

I woke up about 6 hours later and we were somewhere over Ohio. It was time for breakfast. Apparently the route rates a hot breakfast, though there didn’t seem to also be the cereal option that I normally take. Instead I had the "egg sandwich" along with the side of yogurt and fruit salad.


I probably should’ve skipped it. The flavor was fine but almost certainly not worth the calories.

Upon arrival in Washington it was nice to see that United had a bit more significant of a celebration set up for the westbound flight. In addition to cake and hula dancers a couple folks from the local station spoke and they had the traditional Hawaiian blessing over the route.


They also invited a bunch of passengers and employees up to do some hula with the pros. That was fun to watch.


The flight was not treated as an inaugural by the company despite it being the first trip on that route. A bit disappointing for me, but such is life. The crew was reasonably in to the celebration, even if unofficial, so that was nice. Otherwise a relatively uneventful journey with at least one decent meal up front. Not too shabby.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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