ANA has started to offer its first-class passengers priority immigration when arriving at Honolulu. The airline claims it is the first time the service has been offered at Honolulu and says doing so is part of its quest to simplify travel. The service, exclusive to first-class passengers, began yesterday, Monday, October 1, 2019.
According to a statement provided by ANA, first-class passengers will be taken to a dedicated vehicle when landing at Honolulu and driven to an “exclusive” immigration lane. It is an attempt to speed up immigration at Honolulu.
Why ANA is offering this
ANA operates an A380 between Narita and Honolulu. Its first-class cabin seats just eight passengers. So this service improvement affects a very small number of passengers. But it does represent an attempt to ANA to differentiate itself from its competitors and also to demonstrate its commitment to its Aloha State service.
According to Hideki Kunugi, Executive Vice President of ANA;
“ANA is always looking for ways to improve service both in the air and on the ground, and our moves to heighten convenience for travellers will go a long way to making the travel experience more enjoyable.”
The service is designed to cut walking times to immigration and also reduce waiting times. All first-class passengers will be entitled to use the service regardless of nationality.
A mixed performance on Hawaii – North Asia routes
ANA only started flying the A380 to Honolulu in May 2019. It came in a year when tourist traffic from North Asia was showing signs of flatlining. Air China has pulled out of Honolulu. However, the Japanese tourist market in Hawaii is far more established than the Chinese market.
Local carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, has also taken up the challenge thrown down by ANA putting A380s into Honolulu, ramping up its services between Japan and Hawaii.
The fast track immigration service set up by ANA appears to be an attempt to further differentiate itself from competitors like Hawaiian Airlines. ANA is proudly boasting that it is the first airline in Honolulu to offer the fast track service. That said, it is one of the few international airlines to offer a true international first-class product into Hawaii.
Will it make any difference to immigration at Honolulu?
Honolulu has a mixed reputation when it comes to its immigration hall. It is regarded as a far less awful experience than say, LAX, but it is not a shining example of friendliness and efficiency either. Switched on frequent flyers can be enrolled in Global Entry or other expedited trusted traveller entry schemes. But given that the bulk of travellers into Honolulu are leisure-oriented rather than business travellers, Global Entry probably gets a disproportionately low rate of use at Honolulu.
Rather, most ad hoc leisure travellers coming into the USA will line up and go through the cumbersome and sometimes lengthy entry procedures.
Room for expansion?
It is great that ANA recognises this and is attempting to make one of the least pleasant aspects of international travel more tolerable. It is regrettable that it is confined to so few travellers. It would be a boon for Hawaii if a few more fast track entry lanes could be opened at Honolulu and the scheme extended to more travellers, perhaps international business class travellers as well.
Simple Flying reached out to ANA to ask what their future plans for this program were and whether they planned to extend it to more passengers. At the time of publication, we have not received a response.