Hawaiian Airlines Boarding Zones & Process — Everything You Need to Know

Hawaiian Airlines Plane

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Update: Due to the spread of Covid-19, Hawaiian Airlines has made the following changes to its boarding process.
– Hawaiian Airlines requires all passengers to wear masks during boarding, in-flight, and deplaning.
– Hawaiian is currently blocking middle seats on larger aircraft for an unspecified amount of time.

One of the top dream destinations for many Americans is the exotic Pacific island state of Hawaii. Even from the West Coast, it’s a fairly long flight to get there, and it should be no surprise that many visitors fly to Hawaii on none other than Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian Airlines is the 10th largest carrier in America — with their main hub in Honolulu and a secondary hub on Maui, they fly to over 35 different destinations.

With the addition of Boston in April of 2019, Hawaiian will serve 14 destinations on the mainland U.S., many of those being on the West Coast.

In addition to their mainland destinations, Hawaiian Airlines also operates several short flights within Hawaii and long-hauls to Australia, New Zealand, and multiple Asian and South Pacific destinations.

Just in case Hawaii isn’t enough of a paradise for you…you can fly Hawaiian Air all the way to amazing islands like Tahiti or the Philippines.

Before you get to your destination though, you need to board the plane. Boarding is one of the first parts of your trip, and every airline does it a little bit differently.

To make sure you aren’t confused to start off your next Hawaiian Airlines flight, let’s take a look at their boarding process. That way, you will know exactly what to do when it’s time to get on board.

Hawaiian Airlines Boarding Zones

Hawaiian Airlines has one of the more simple and easy-to-understand boarding processes among all of the U.S.-based airlines.

They allow certain passengers to pre-board and then use just 5 numbered zones to fill up the plane. Unless you are eligible for pre-boarding, all you really need to know is which numbered boarding group you are in. Once boarding begins, they will simply go in order.

To go a bit further, it helps to understand why passengers are placed into each boarding group. That way, if you need overhead space for several bags, for example, you can make sure you get yourself into an earlier group.

With Hawaiian Airlines, picking your boarding zone isn’t really that hard to do. Here are the details of who is eligible to board with each of the Hawaiian Airlines boarding zones:


  • Guests needing assistance
  • Families with children under 2
  • Unaccompanied minors

Boarding Zone 1

  • First class passengers
  • Business class passengers
  • Pualani Platinum members
  • Military personnel in uniform

Boarding Zone 2

  • Extra Comfort seats
  • Preferred seats
  • Pualani Gold members
  • Premier Club members

Boarding Zone 3

  • General boarding
  • Passengers seated in rows located in the rear third of the plane

Boarding Zone 4

  • General boarding
  • Passengers seated in rows located in the middle third of the plane

Boarding Zone 5

  • General boarding
  • Passengers seated in rows located in the front third of the plane

Boarding Notes

Airport Boarding Line
Boarding the plane is one of the first stressful parts of a trip, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow our tips and you’ll be perfectly prepared for your next flight. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

As we mentioned above, it is possible to a certain extent to choose your boarding zone with Hawaiian Airlines. All you need to do is understand the zones and pick your seat according to when you want to board.

Want to board at the beginning of general boarding? Choose a seat toward the back of the plane.

Want to get on even before general boarding? Choose an Extra Comfort or Preferred seat.

Sure, those will cost you a bit of money — but in addition to getting to board in zone 2, you will also have a more comfortable ride for what is usually going to be a several-hour flight.

When it comes to family boarding, Hawaiian Airlines is one of the best for young children. If you are traveling with a child under 2 years old, you get to pre-board along with other guests needing extra assistance.

Unfortunately, once your child hits 2, the policy is much less friendly. You won’t have any sort of early boarding with older kids and will just have to board with your assigned boarding group.

One unique thing about boarding with Hawaiian Airlines is that they allow Pualani Platinum, Pualani Gold, and Premier Club members to have 2 guests board with them in their boarding group; Most airlines only allow elite members to board early.

Hot Tip: Many airlines will allow military members to board by just showing their ID, but Hawaiian Airlines makes it a little more difficult. To get preferred zone 1 boarding, members of the military need to be in uniform for their flights.

How to Build up Your Hawaiian Airlines “HawaiianMiles” Balance

Flying with Hawaiian Airlines can get you to some amazing destinations, but sadly, flights to Hawaii, the South Pacific, and Asia are often quite expensive.

That’s where your miles come in handy. There’s nothing better than seeing an expensive flight, but knowing that you can use your miles instead and just pay a little bit for taxes.

There are several great ways to earn lots of HawaiianMiles, but perhaps the quickest and easiest is with their co-branded credit cards. Hawaiian Airlines partners with Barclays to promote both a personal and a business version of their credit card.

The Hawaiian Airlines Bank of Hawaii World Mastercard is the personal version of the offered cards. (Although it has Bank of Hawaii in its name, the card is in fact issued by Barclays.)

This card comes with a significant sign-up bonus and a minimum spending requirement that is fairly easy to meet.

For business owners, the Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard presents a great opportunity to quickly earn a lot of HawaiianMiles. The sign-up bonus is often higher than the personal card, and the required minimum spend is lower as well.

If you qualify for both the personal and business Hawaiian Airlines credit cards, you will be well on your way to an award flight to paradise!

Bottom Line: When looking at the award redemption chart for HawaiianMiles, you’ll notice you can find a cheaper award with another airline’s miles on almost every route. But remember that while redemptions may be a little bit higher, HawaiianMiles are pretty easy to earn — so it may be ok to spend a few more to get where you want to go.

Final Thoughts

You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t want to take a vacation to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines is a great option for your flights to and from our most remote state, and they can also take you onward for trips to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, or the South Pacific.

When it comes time to begin your travels, you want to make sure you have everything under control so you don’t have to worry. One of the first steps when flying is boarding the plane, so it makes sense that you would want to understand how that works.

With what we’ve shown you above, you should be ready to go when it comes time to board your next Hawaiian Airlines flight. Who knows…maybe we will see even see you out there on a beach or snorkeling with the sea turtles!

Frequently asked questions

How many boarding zones are there on Hawaiian Air?

Hawaiian Airlines uses 5 numbered boarding zones in the boarding process for their flights. In addition, they allow certain groups of passengers who need extra assistance to pre-board ahead of the numbered zones.

Are Hawaiian flights assigned seating?

Yes, Hawaiian Airlines uses assigned seating for all of their flights. If you want to sit in a Preferred seat or an Extra Comfort seat, you will need to pay a fee when selecting your seat. All other seats are offered free of charge.

Who has pre-boarding on Hawaiian Air?

On Hawaiian Airlines, guests needing extra assistance, families with children under 2 years old, and unaccompanied minors are allowed to pre-board.

Can military board early on Hawaiian Air?

Active military members are allowed to board Hawaiian Airlines flights with passengers in boarding zone 1 as long as they are in uniform for the flight.

When can families board with Hawaiian Air?

Hawaiian Airlines allows families who are traveling with children under 2 years old to pre-board along with other passengers who need extra assistance. Passengers with children aged 2 and older should board with passengers in their assigned boarding zone.

Who is in zone 1 on Hawaiian Air?

Boarding zone 1 on Hawaiian Airlines includes first class passengers, business class passengers, Pualani Platinum members, and military personnel in uniform.

Who is in zone 2 on Hawaiian Air?

Boarding zone 2 on Hawaiian Airlines includes passengers seated in Extra Comfort seats, passengers seated in Preferred seats, Pualani Gold members, and Premier Club members.

Who is in zone 3 on Hawaiian Air?

Boarding zone 3 on Hawaiian Airlines is the first of 3 general boarding zones. Passengers seated in rows in the back third of the plane will be in zone 3.

Who is in zone 4 on Hawaiian Air?

Boarding zone 3 on Hawaiian Airlines is the second of 3 general boarding zones. Passengers seated in rows in the middle third of the plane will be in zone 4.

Who is in zone 5 on Hawaiian Air?

Boarding zone 5 on Hawaiian Airlines is the last of 3 general boarding zones. Passengers seated in rows in the front third of the plane will be in zone 5.

Jeff Brownson

About Jeff Brownson

Since discovering miles and points in 2010, Jeff has traveled to over 35 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible.

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