When you think of VIP travel, your mind is likely drawn to experiences like the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge and Virgin Australia Beyond. But another airline has just stepped into this space – and it’s one you wouldn’t expect. Tucked away behind a subtle door at Honolulu Airport sits Hawaiian Airlines’ little secret: Apartment 1929.

It’s less of an invitation-only lounge and more of a residential apartment. But one that exists after security at the state’s busiest airport. Much like an apartment, there’s an intercom if you need to buzz. And the apartment number is right there on the door. But that’s the only hint most people get that there’s something waiting inside.

There’s no airfare you can buy from Hawaiian Airlines that includes access to Apartment 1929. Nor is there a tier in the carrier’s HawaiianMiles program that conveys entry. Instead, this private lounge is for customers prepared to pay for a premium experience that’s unrivalled in Honolulu. Welcome to the world of Hawaiian Airlines’ Premium Airport Service.

The entrance isn’t loud and flashy. It’s subtle, to not draw attention.

Inside Hawaiian Airlines’ Apartment 1929

Given the exclusive nature of Apartment 1929, this isn’t your typical crowded airport lounge. It’s worth pointing out that a Premium Airport Service booking doesn’t necessarily give you free rein over the entire space. The apartment is instead designed to be shared between a few distinct groups.

On that front, there are two main collections of chairs inside the primary sitting area. There’s also an outdoor area – similarly divided to allow sharing between multiple groups. And to top it off, there’s a private room – configured like an actual lounge room.

When I pass through, there’s only one other group inside enjoying the space. The subtle space allows for networking, if you wish – but given the holiday appeal of Honolulu, it is more for relaxation. After a quick hello when passing by the other guests, we keep to ourselves and enjoy our separate experiences.

Overall, it’s a beautiful space. I’m fortunate to be able to secure the private ‘lounge room’ all to myself. It’s quite a novelty being able to kick back and watch The Simpsons on Disney+ on the room’s big TV – right in the middle of the airport. And, of course, to have drinks and snacks delivered to the loungeroom inside this apartment.

Eating and drinking in Apartment 1929

When it comes to drinking and dining in Apartment 1929, the inclusions depend upon a few things. I’m told that some frequent travellers through Honolulu have been offered a time-based subscription – much like an airport lounge membership. This costs US$3,000+ per year but allows you to stop by whenever flying with Hawaiian Airlines.

Those visiting with the subscription are treated to a snack basket on each visit. Anything from the beverage menu is gratis. This is also offered to travellers booking their stay at the last minute when full catering can’t be arranged.

But guests purchasing ad hoc access get a lot more. VIPs can literally tell Hawaiian Airlines what they’d like to eat, and the staff here make it happen. Just be sure to book at least a few days in advance to give the staff time to pull everything together.

As it happens, my visit was booked the night before my flight to Honolulu. This didn’t give time to prepare the full catering – but the snack basket for the ‘subscription’ folk is still quite comprehensive. The branded water bottle is to take with you, and staff regularly come past to make sure you have enough on the beverage front. I have time for coffee, water, Champagne and a cocktail – and they’re all delivered right to my seat.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Premium Airport Service

Access to Apartment 1929 is included in Hawaiian Airlines’ new Premium Airport Service offering. How this works will depend on your travel plans.

My journey sees me landing in Honolulu from Sydney and continuing with a same-day flight to Phoenix. As a new offering, Premium Airport Service doesn’t currently cover passengers arriving internationally. So I make my own way through the formalities and into the departures area. If you’re beginning your journey in Honolulu though, staff meet your car at the kerb and usher you through.

Ahead of the journey, I’m advised where to find the entrance to Apartment 1929 and a number to call when I’m on my way. I give the obligatory heads-up, ring the doorbell, and I’m greeted and welcomed inside.

Part of the welcome includes a framed personalised sign. It lists my name and flight information – a handy reminder of the journey ahead, given there are no flight screens here. Staff ask my preference for boarding – first or last – and return to provide an advance warning 10 minutes before I need to get moving.

From there, I’m escorted from the lounge straight onto a buggy that whisks me to my gate. My assistant brings me past the queue that’s already forming at the gate and directly onto the plane. Being a VIP has its perks. I’m mildly disappointed that my gate isn’t further away, as I’m told that means being driven in an SUV to your awaiting flight. Oh well, next time.

Summing up

Apartment 1929 is already growing in popularity with celebrities. And I can see how some well-heeled, high-flying couples would see the US$500 price tag (when booking as a pair) and not bat an eyelid. To be fair, the service and experience here are leaps and bounds better than in Hawaiian Airlines’ best public space, The Plumeria Lounge. It’s a real vibe.

When originating in Honolulu, being able to side-step the busy airport check-in hall is also a real plus. Even when you’re flying in Hawaiian Airlines First Class, check-in and security can take quite some time. But with an assistant zipping you through the airport, those queues aren’t a bother.

After getting the VIP treatment, the hard part is going back to the ‘normal’ airport experience. But perhaps that’s the idea—visit Apartment 1929 once, and you’ll never want to fly through Honolulu in any other way. Just remember to book ahead of time to maximise the pre-flight experience.

Also read: Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 787 Leihōkū Suites review

All photography by Chris Chamberlin, who travelled as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines.

Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and guides by subscribing to Point Hacks’ email newsletter.
Inside Hawaiian Airlines’ secret Apartment 1929 lounge in Honolulu was last modified: June 19th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin