How to Survive the Flight from IAD-HNL on United

Updated March 27, 2022.

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We thought it would be great! A non-stop flight from our home airport (IAD) all the way to beautiful, exotic Hawaii (HNL). No worries over missed connections, short layovers, or bad weather in our connecting city to add any stress to our travels. And since it’s so long, we’d definitely get a meal, maybe even two!

Wrong! As in, we could not have been more wrong about that last part. Silly me, I thought in-flight meals were determined by time or distance, but no; domestic is domestic, according to the U.S. airlines. Nevermind that we’d get two meals on a 7-hour flight from the East Coast to Europe… a 10.5-hour flight from the East Coast to Hawaii only has meals available for purchase, and my flight attendant friend told me that flight is notorious for running out of what food they do bring onboard to sell!

View of Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach

Literally every other airline flying from the Mainland U.S. to Hawaii besides United provides meals. We needed to be prepared, and I thought you might need some preparation, too! So I decided to write a whole post on surviving long-haul domestic travel. Here is it!

Away we go!
Helpful info: The Best Snacks to Pack for the Flight

Flight Details

Here are the stats for planning purposes:

  • Flight Number: UA 345
  • Aircraft: Boeing 767
  • Economy Seat Configuration: 2-3-2 (2-1-2 lay-flat seats in Business)
  • Length: 10 hours 37 minutes
  • Departure to Arrival Times: 8:35am-1:12pm; Times and days of the week vary according to season. Check out Flight Mapper for specific dates and times!
Arriving into HNL!

In My Personal Item

No matter what class of service you’re flying, whether you’re in First, Business, or one of the many versions of Economy, everyone is allowed a personal item! Here’s a peek at the contens of mine! Just click the link to get yours!


BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle! Take an empty refillable bottle with you, then fill it up to the top after you get through security. You can bring it with you on the flight!


Flying for 10.5 hours? I needed some food to get me through! I’m a fan of protein for staying power, so jerky is always a winner with me, and this particular brand has plenty of flavors and types of meat to choose from!

My other little secret weapon for staving off hunger and satisfying my sweet tooth is a Cliff bar! Get the variety pack to see what you like:

Need more? Check out What You Need to Survive Long-haul Travel!

Compression Socks

The older I get, the more my feet swell when I fly for more than about 5 hours. And the more uncomfortable my legs become! I started using compression socks a few years ago, and I just can’t recommend them enough. My favorite brand is Go2Socks, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns from plain white to argyle to polkadots!

Eyemask and Earplugs

Need a little help sleeping on your flight? These will go far in helping your dreams come true!

A Fresh Book

I always take a fresh book with me on long flights! In-flight entertainment is great, but there’s not always enough of what I like to get me through the whole flight. And occasionally, the screen doesn’t work! So always take a book, whether it’s an e-book or my preference: a good old-fashioned paperback! Here are a few favorites set in Hawaii:

Need more ideas?
Check out all my Summer Reading Lists on my Shop Page!

Services and Amenities Onboard

That’s one mighty long flight to spend not knowing what to expect. Here’s what to know about the service and amenities onboard.

Seatback Entertainment

Yes! There are plenty of movies, TV shows, and other entertainment options available. Click here to find out what will be showing on your flight!

Exit Row=extra leg room! And seatback entertainment, too.
Just in case: What to Do on a Flight with No Seatback Entertainment

Food and Beverage

As stated before, there are no meals, just food for purchase! Since they often run out of food, however, you should definitely pack some food of your own. The only word of caution is that Hawaii is very strict about what fresh foods can come in or go out, so keep that in mind when planning your food rations! If you don’t finish it before you land, you may have to throw it away.

If you do decide to buy food on board, you can find your options here! Choices change every few months!

Not the most photogenic meal, but this chicken sausage and egg white flatbread sandwich was actually pretty tasty!

Loyal 1K customers, you can receive your complimentary snack, but it may be a good idea to ask a flight attendant upon boarding to save your first choice for you. There’s no guarantee you’ll get your first choice, but if it’s important to you, be your own advocate!

Sriracha Scrambled Egg Skillet

There were both breakfast and lunch options on this particular flight, so that made for a bit more variety!

Hummus and Falafel, Pita, and Fattoush salad
More here: Benefits of Airline Loyalty

The Reward

You’re in Hawaii! It’s truly amazing what a difference just stepping outside will make, even if you were getting hangry in-flight. The breeze, the scent, the “alohas” from everyone around you. It’s beautiful! And there are plenty of food options once you get to HNL.

View of Waikiki from Diamond Head
Must read: What to Know Before You Visit the Hawaiian Islands

Before Arrival

All passengers arriving into Hawaii must fill out an official Department of Agriculture form stating what plant an animal products you may be bringing into the state. On the other side of the form you’ll find a survey from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

Department of Agrilculture Form
Tourism Survey

A Note for Connecting Flights at HNL

If you’re like us and are connecting for a flight to another island, you may want to know what to expect upon arriving at HNL. You won’t have to go through security again, despite being at Honolulu’s open-air airport! Just walk or take the Wiki Wiki Shuttle to your next terminal.

Connecting to Molokai!
Read Next: What to Expect Flying in a Tiny Plane
and Flying ‘Ohana by Hawaiian

Does this post help you feel prepared for your own long-haul domestic flight on United? Let emknow below, and don’t forget to check out my Hawaiian Islands Page for all my Hawaii planning posts!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

6 thoughts on “How to Survive the Flight from IAD-HNL on United

  1. I can’t believe they didn’t feed you. It’s funny, because I just read another blogger’s tale about how mechanical issues prevented her from taking off in Atlanta so she missed her connecting flight in Chicago to go to Ireland for a vacation, and they arranged to get her on another flight TWO DAYS LATER. Yes, this was United Airlines. United wasn’t giving me any joy when I was researching flights to Asia, either. Suddenly I’m glad that Delta is the more obvious choice where I live.

    By the way, when I took my first Sun Country flight last month from Seattle to Minneapolis, I didn’t get a speck of food either. Granted, it was only about 3 hours, and we got a drink, but I was expecting… I dunno… something. Not a single peanut. Guess that’s why the flight was so cheap. Live and learn… and bring your own snacks.

    1. Yeah, I’m glad we knew to be prepared for no food! One of the flight attendants said they are going to reinstate meals on longer domestic flights, but they don’t know when!

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