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The 787-9 Dreamliner, the new flagship aircraft for Hawaiian Airlines, offers a multitude of intricately designed features to honor Hawaiian history.

Hawaiian Airlines unveiled plans for its newest airplane type, the Boeing 787-9. 

Avi Mannis, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Hawaiian, said the 787-9s will be the airline’s new flagship aircraft when it enters revenue service beginning early next year on select routes. The airline is expected to receive its first dozen Boeing 787-9s in November; further deliveries would run through 2027.

Hawaiian Airlines has a “very focused mission on bring[ing] people from around the world to our home. The 787 was the aircraft that fit that mission,” Mannis said. “It lets us build a much more specific guest experience than many of the other airlines.”

Airlines around the world are investing heavily in new and updated premium cabins. The push comes amid a surge in what is known as premium leisure travel — a 2022 Skift Megatrend — which involves travelers willing to pay for a nicer seat on personal trips. American Airlines, the Lufthansa Group, United Airlines, and others are in the midst of upgrading their onboard product to capture a larger share of this lucrative travel segment, especially as the recovery of high-revenue corporate travel has slowed at around 80 percent of 2019 levels.

At Hawaiian, the team highlighted the islands’ unique culture and history, as well as early Polynesian voyages, in its interior for the new 787s. Among these features is the new Leihōkū business class, a set of 34 lie-flat suites with an 18-inch in-flight entertainment screen and more. Other aspects are elements and textures that pull aspects of Hawaii’s natural endowments onboard the plane.

The 787 features a variety of option within the Leihōkū suites. Source: Hawaiian Airlines

In addition to the new business class suites, Hawaiian’s 787s will feature 79 Extra Comfort seats with extra legroom, and 187 standard economy seats. The airline will install Collins Aerospace Aspire seats in the economy cabin. The aircraft will seat 300 passengers across the three classes.

“There were five key elements that really came out from the discovery that the Hawaiians used to navigate,” said Loreto Julian, a design manager at Teague, which consulted on the designs. “(Those are) the sun, the stars, wind, ocean and wildlife. So those were kind of our key drivers as we started to look at the whole cabin interior in itself.”

Julian described how stars were used as a means of navigation through darkness by native Hawaiians. In the premium zone aboard the 787, even as the lights go down, stars are visible in the aircraft’s ceiling panels. 

Trystan Parry, vice president sales and product support at Adient Aerospace, spoke of the need for his team to effectively execute both the vision from Hawaiian Airlines, and the design concepts from Teague for the Leihōkū suites. He brought up differences in design for different passengers with different needs over the course of a flight.

“[We needed to] have features that allow families and couples to communicate and socialize with each other on what could be quite a long flight,” Parry said. “You’ve got a cocoon for two passengers traveling together, you have got honeymoon suites, Cabana Suites.”

Adient supplied the new business class suites.

Teague’s Julian highlighted the entryway of the plane as one of its most symbolic features. It boasts a combination of koa wood, flank panels, and a ceiling dome with a relief pattern being emblematic of the traditional warmth the island is known for. 

“It’s because of the culture of Hawaii. It tends to be a culture that’s very welcoming,” Julian said. “When you get invited to someone’s home, you’re really part of the family. The experience of walking into this aircraft is where we’ve created this backdrop that’s very warm, very inviting, it’s where you cross the threshold … you feel like you’re in Hawaii at that moment.”

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Tags: Boeing, design, dreamliner, hawaiian airlines

Photo credit: An image of the layout of a Boeing 787-9. Source: Hawaiian Airlines

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