01. Introduction: Hawaiian island hopping!
02. Alaska Airlines 737-800 economy class San Diego to Kona
03. Island Air ATR 72 Kona to Honolulu
04. Vive Hotel, Waikiki
05. Mokulele Airlines Cessna 208 Grand Caravan Honolulu to Ho’olehua
06. Mokulele Airlines Cessna 208 Grand Caravan Ho’olehua to Kahului
07. Mokulele Airlines Cessna 208 Grand Caravan Kahului to Kona
08. What to do when it rains for the entirety of your Hawaiian vacation
09. Grand Naniloa Hotel, Hilo
10. Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class Hilo to Honolulu
11. Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 Extra Comfort (premium economy) Honolulu to San Diego
Sitting there at gate 31 with my face in the palm of my hands was a pretty low feeling. I love Hawaii, and waiting for a plane back to the mainland is about as depressing as it gets for a career traveler such as myself. Don’t get me wrong – I love San Diego, but there’s just something about Hawaii that my body and soul agrees with and it’s never easy to leave. Especially after this particular trip with all the flying I did and all the nasty weather I had to endure along the way. This was not a particularly easy and lazy Hawaiian vacation for me, and I almost felt like an idiot for coming all this way and not even once going to the beach to give my toes an opportunity to mix with the sand.
Despite my low feeling, I had to look on the bright side. Hawaii is not that far from San Diego, and as a matter of fact it’s actually quite easy to escape to the islands whenever I feel like I need my fix. I’ll be back soon enough. You can count on that.
Honolulu, HI (HNL) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Monday, May 1, 2017
Duration: 5 hours, 8 minutes
Seat: 12G (Extra Comfort / premium economy)
The Honolulu international Airport has changed a bit since the last time I was here, and from what I could tell, the old open-air mainland and international gate areas have been updated to look more modern and unfortunately less open-air. Gone is all that beautiful dark Hawaiian wood and those old chandeliers that have been hanging over the gate areas ever since the first time I came to Hawaii. It’s kind of sad actually – but that’s progress I suppose, and all I can hope is that they don’t close off the open-air walkways between terminals. Those walkways are what makes HNL unique, it would be a real shame for them to wall those off and lose the connection to the outside world.
I had a seat in first class the last time I flew from Honolulu to San Diego, but today I was going to try out their premium economy product (officially known as “Extra Comfort”) instead. Of course I would’ve preferred to be up in first class, but I was trying to be reasonable with the overall cost of this trip and my conscience couldn’t allow it. Oh well. I’m saving my money (and points) try out their new lie flat business class product which is being installed on all of their A330’s as I type this. Hopefully I’ll get my chance next time I fly to Hawaii!
Just before boarding was set to begin, the gate agent announced that it was going to be a completely full flight with very little room left over for carry-ons. Hearing an announcement like that pushed the dagger a little bit deeper in my heart as I thought that springing for first class would have been the better option in order to avoid the stress that comes with the chaos of a completely full Airbus A330. I was hoping with all my might that the premium economy product would be decent and comfortable enough for those regrets to melt away as soon as I planted my butt in that seat.
Stepping onboard and seeing the seat situation gave me a quick scare. There was a very active (and angry) lap child sitting behind my seat, and I’m not gonna lie when I say that the first thought that came to my mind was an expletive. I was really regretting not springing for first class now, but I had no choice other than just to take my seat and suck it up. Can’t win them all, right?
Thankfully luck was on my side and that lap child moved over to an empty seat next to mom and fell promptly asleep just after pushback. Allright, things are looking up! Speaking of looking, since I was in an aisle seat it was difficult for me to see what was happening outside as we taxied to the runway. Oh well – just seeing all the beautiful sunshine over swaying palm trees would’ve just made me feel even worse about going home. I don’t sound too bitter do I?
After what seemed like an excessively long takeoff roll on the reef runway, we were up in the air pointed directly at San Diego. Within minutes the first service cart came by with happy Hawaiian flight attendants slinging overpriced snacks for purchase. I was actually quite hungry, and I wasn’t even sure what the meal options were going to be on this flight so I decided to spring for a small $3.50 bag of macadamia nuts. Those hit the spot – until I looked at the nutrition information on the reverse side of the package and took notice of the fat content. If you don’t know how much fat macadamia nuts have, and you like to eat them, do yourself a favor and don’t look it up. Ignorance is bliss, right? All I’m gonna say is that it was astounding to me, so much so that I’m not even sure I’ll ever voluntarily eat another one. They were good though.
A second cart came through shortly thereafter with more happy Hawaiian flight attendants offering complimentary drinks and snacks. Then to my complete utter surprise…dinner! That’s right – a full hot meal served in economy class on a US airline. I was totally not expecting that, and my mood picked up instantly as soon as they placed that hot tray of what looked to be chicken in front of me. An extravagant meal it was not, but it was still very much appreciated. I scarfed that thing down and suddenly all was right with the world.
Not only did we get a free meal, a free glass of wine came with it. Are you kidding me? I thought Alaska Airlines had pretty decent service to Hawaii, but I quickly started to realize that Hawaiian is giving them a run for their money back here in economy class. Sure, this might be premium economy but it’s still basically economy class.
I started watching Slumdog Millionaire during the meal service, and I found it interesting enough to watch it all the way through to the end well after the service had ended. Can you believe I’ve never seen that movie up until this point? Yeah, I don’t get out much. There are so many movies I want to see, and what I’m starting to realize is that the only way I can keep up is by watching what I can during long flights. By the way, if you’ve ever seen Slumdog Millionaire, drop what you’re doing and go see it. Great movie!
For some reason or another I was expecting complete darkness for most of the flight, since our scheduled time of arrival in San Diego was nearly 11 PM. Flying east, away from the setting sun tends to make darkness come quickly, so I was quite surprised to see that the sun didn’t even start setting until about two hours of flying time to go. Talk about being disorientating – my body was ready for a near-midnight arrival time, but the light outside the windows didn’t match what it was saying on my watch. Weird.
I spent the remainder of this flight taking notes about all the flights that I was on over the past three days, just to have them ready for when it came time to write the actual trip reports several weeks later. My memory has always been horrible, and I find that if I don’t write things down, things get lost in the blur and I’ll never remember with any accuracy as to what really happened.
The captain (a female by the way) made an announcement with about one hour of flying time remaining that they could see the lights of Southern California straight ahead and that we would be landing in San Diego right on schedule. And you know what? They were right. We did land right on time, which I was very thankful for since I had to get up very early next morning to go to work.
The only thing interesting to note about the landing process was the guy in seat 12J who appeared just to be about as much of airliner nerd as me. He recorded the entire landing with his iPhone, and as soon as we touched down I saw him switch over to Instagram and start posting pictures. I couldn’t help but to jump on Instagram myself to search for hashtags with San Diego and Hawaiian Airlines in them – just to see if I could find the video and pictures that he took. Unfortunately, I never found anything, which did kind of bum me out a little bit because I wanted to reply to his posts and let him know that I was sitting right next to him the entire time. LOL
So that’s it folks. My Hawaii trip has reached an end (ooh that hurts to write), and I hope you enjoyed my admittedly overly-aviation-centric posts for this trip. To be honest, there was little bit too much flying and not enough relaxing for my tastes, but I’m glad to say that I had the opportunity to hop around the Hawaiian Islands in little airplanes. It was definitely an item crossed off my bucket list. Next time though, my butt is hitting the beach and I’m going to be staying away from airplanes as much as possible. That’s what Hawaii is all about.
See you in the next trip report!