Review: Hawaiian Airlines Hilo To Honolulu | Boeing 717 | ITO-HNL

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After visiting Banyan Tree Drive I was ready for my Hawaiian Airlines Hilo to Honolulu flight aboard the trusty Boeing 717. As expected it was a cloudy Hilo day but that also meant my chances of seeing a rainbow were also on the high side. Hilo did not disappoint.

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If you have been following me on this trip to Hilo I did a review on the flight over, put together a Hilo airport guide, and a walking tour of Banyan Tree Drive. This wraps up a couple of days of travel and I look forward to returning soon.

Hilo Airport is a small, open-aired, airport with some of the most comfortable lobby seats I have ever come across. When checking in I recommend you stay in the lower lobby level until it is close to your flight time.

a room with couches and chairs

If you must head on up to check out your gate but it is quite easy to head back down to lounge for a bit.

a row of barriers in a airport

At the end of the lobby area is a nice snack shop that had pretty good spam musubis and also served alcohol. I love these kinds of places as they seem to have just about everything, you just need to look a little harder.

If you like plane spotting then the large windows here will be to your liking although the angle means you are not in the right spot for take-offs. Watching aircraft land and taxi to the gate is ideal here, move to the gate that is receiving and you should have some great shots.

a white airplane on the tarmac hawaiian airlines hilo to honolulu

When I reviewed the Kona Airport and subsequent flights to and from I pointed out that there are no jetways, making Kona a fun airport to arrive and depart from.

Hilo Airport handles less traffic and yet has jetways, at 142 inches of rain annually compared to less than 30 in Kona it is obvious why.

a group of people on a train

I noticed 2 things while waiting for my time to board in Hilo that I think you may find in many small towns around the world.

The first thing I noticed was a lot of people coming off the flight were in wheelchairs, had bandages, or were wearing hospital wristbands. I thought this was odd at first but after thinking about it I realized that many people from Hilo probably fly to O’ahu which has much more specialized health services and then return at the end of the day.

The second thing was that about 50% of the flight seemed to know someone waiting to board, small-town kine things.

After boarding I saw a nice rainbow outside my window, Hilo rains a lot so that means lots of rainbows.

a rainbow over a building and a plane wing

A smooth takeoff and within a few minutes I was looking at the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, beautiful in the evening light. I also noticed another mountain top to the right and I think it was Hualalai.

an airplane wing above the clouds

I enjoyed another amazing sunset before touching down in Honolulu. These inter-island flights have given me the opportunity to see the island from a unique perspective and I look forward to many more in the future.

a building with lights on top


Brandon Hughes
Brandon Hughes
Aloha, as the founder and chief editor of Suites & Lobbies, I enjoy offering unique perspectives on hotel accommodations, airline services, dining experiences, and the evolving travel landscape of Hawai'i. Raised in the town of Ka'alaea on O'ahu, a native Hawaiian, and a lifelong learner. My extensive travels across Hawai'i ensure that readers receive accurate and up-to-date information, from emerging hotel projects to the latest in restaurant openings and travel-related concerns. My commitment is to provide unbiased, thorough insights stemming from first-hand knowledge of current affairs here in Hawai’i. I further showcase this on my YouTube channel, where I present detailed visual reviews and updates.


  1. yada, yada, … 2bad U don’t know it is NOT Banyan TREE Drive!
    Wally, Hilo native/Kona resident ….🗣️ if U are ever in a line boarding or deplaning in Kona, when it is raining, or it’s 90° outside, U won’t think KOA is “cute” anymore!

    • Hi Wally, Thanks for the comment, did you use to write Pidgin On Da Loose for West Hawai’i today?

      You are correct it’s Banyan Drive. KOA and HNM are both favorites, rain or shine since small kid times.

      • Yes, Wally “Kimo” Camp, “former” columnist. … ignorant Haoles killed the column!


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