Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightTravelers flying to the Aloha State next year will be able to choose from three different seating products on Hawaiian Airlines flights operated with the carrier’s Airbus A330 aircraft.

The company announced plans late last month to adjust its A330s’ seating configuration, creating what it’s calling an Extra Comfort economy product expected to be available by June.

ShaneNelson“We get feedback from customers all the time,” said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “And one of the things we know people are looking for is opportunities to customize their travel experience with us.”

Offering five more inches of legroom than standard economy, the Extra Comfort product, which will consist of about 40 seats on the A330s, will not only give travelers more space but also offer them priority boarding at the departure gate; complimentary in-seat, on-demand entertainment, featuring a range of movies and TV shows; and a personal electric power outlet for laptops and other electronic devices.

Passengers who opt for the new economy product on Hawaiian’s international flights will also receive a premium meal and a souvenir pillow-and-blanket set.

According to Ingram, the fare for the new seats hasn’t been firmed up yet, but he did say “pricing will be in line with the other premium, main-cabin products in the market today.”

The Extra Comfort seating will only be available for purchase through Hawaiian’s website initially, beginning later this year or in early 2014, but Ingram said distribution will be expanded in phases later, and there is a possibility the fares could be available in the GDSs.

Ingram said Hawaiian officials haven’t decided yet whether the carrier will offer commissions on sales of the new Extra Comfort product to the travel trade.

Hawaiian does pay commission to agents, however, for first-class seat sales, but Ingram clarified further, saying “typically we pay commissions on international but not domestic, although there are various different policies that are in place from time to time.”

Ingram didn’t seem too concerned about the recent visitors report by the Hawaii Tourism Authority revealing the destination suffered a nearly 6% year-over-year decrease in September arrivals from its largest source market, U.S. states west of the Rockies.

“I don’t think I’d read too much into these latest figures,” he said. “I think demand remains very robust for Hawaii, [and] we’re still seeing strong bookings.”

Ingram attributed the September decline in visitors from the U.S. West to schedule adjustments made by U.S. carriers.

“We’re still very much on track for a record year in visitor arrivals,” he added. “I think what you’re seeing in the September figures is a bit of a tapering off of some of the capacity off the West Coast after a very robust period of growth in the 12 months from the third quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2013.”

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