Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class Hilo to Honolulu

Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class Hilo to Honolulu

You know you fly too much when you wake up in the morning just hours away from boarding a Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 to Honolulu and you feel like you’d rather not go. I was perfectly content in Hilo, still tired and exhausted from the past two days flying all around the islands in some pretty nasty weather, and I really wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere.

Unfortunately, sleeping and was not an option. Real-life was calling, and I had meetings the next day back at home that could have been career-ending if missed. Ugh. I hate being an adult sometimes.

Hilo, HI (ITO) – Honolulu, HI (HNL)
Monday, May 1, 2017
Aircraft: 717-200
Registration: N484HA
Duration: 32 minutes
Seat: 23F (economy class)

Hawaiian airlines 717 side view
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 (N484HA) side view illustration by norebbo.com
Air route from ITO to HNL
Our route from ITO to HNL today: V22 OKALA V16 LNY JULLE5

I was seriously contemplating walking to the airport this morning, figuring that it wouldn’t take more than an hour from the hotel. However, combined with the fact that it was still drizzling a little bit and I was feeling dead tired, it just wasn’t gonna happen. Forking over $15 for the five-minute ride to the airport hurt like hell, but it ended up being much better than the alternative.

Curbside at Hilo international airport
Curbside at Hilo international airport. I really don’t wanna go home.
Hawaiian airlines Hilo airport
Looks like I’m in the right spot!
Hilo airport terminal
Just like nearly every other structure in Hawaii, Hilo International Airport is an open-air facility.
Hawaiian airlines check in Hilo airport
Hawaiian Airlines check in counters here at ITO.

I’m weird when it comes to scheduling time to get to the airport. I always rush around in the morning, feeling like I’m way behind and I’m going to miss the plane and my life will be ruined because of it. I always find myself at the airport way (way) too early, and this morning was no exception.

The good news was that I was a little bit hungry (okay, a lot) and there was a decent looking restaurant pre-security that looked to be an excellent option for breakfast. I had time to kill and an empty belly, so it was actually kind of nice to spend about 45 minutes in front of a huge omelette and a pile of white rice. Well, the omelette didn’t last long – I was scarfing that thing down so fast that I had to remind myself several times to slow down or else it was going to be a boringly miserable wait inside the terminal.

Hawaiian breakfast Hilo airport
How to make any meal Hawaiian: serve it with a huge pile of white rice!

Despite my best effort to take my time eating breakfast, the wait for my flight still ended up being quite boring. There really isnt much to do at ITO. Of course you could shop for last-minute souvenirs, but buying souvenirs at the airport is never a wise financial decision. They know they got you (a captive audience at it’s finest), and their prices usually reflect it. $45 for a little bag of coffee? Are you kidding me? Where’s the Starbucks??

Sarcasm aside, the Hilo airport is actually quite nice. Once past security there’s a huge waiting room with big comfy chairs and lots of natural light, and it’s an excellent place to sit and relax before a flight. It’s not very crowded either. Things were quiet and calm while I was there and I actually found it to be one of the most relaxing moments of my entire trip. And the sun even made an appearance. How about that? I hadn’t seen the sun in three days, but here it was shining bright and hot just as I’m about to step on a plane to go home. I want my money back!

Hilo airport interior
Hilo airport interior decor. A bit too much Tommy Bahama for my tastes, but since this is Hawaii I’ll give it a pass.
Hilo airport waiting lounge
This is the waiting lounge – departure gates are up those stairs to the right.

The boarding gates at ITO aren’t quite as nice. Well, that’s a bit harsh actually. What I really mean is that there are a lot less creature comforts in this part of the airport. Just like all the other Hawaiian airports I’ve been to, there’s tons of natural wood and gentle breezes throughout the building, which doesn’t help to fend of the sad feelings of vacation being over and having to go home.

It looks nice of course, but there isn’t anywhere to sit other than a few rock hard plastic chairs scattered about. Pro SANspotter traveller tip: don’t go upstairs to the boarding gates at ITO unless you’re committed to stand until the boarding for your flight begins.

Hilo airport departure gates
It’s not quite as nice up here as it is downstairs, is it?
Hilo airport terminal design
There aren’t many places to sit up here, so be prepared to stand!
SANspotter airport selfie Hilo
Not a bad place for taking selfies though.

Boarding was just a few minutes late this morning, thanks in large part to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft. But Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t mess around when it comes to turning around an airplane – they would give Southwest Airlines a run for their money, I’m sure of it. Seriously – it wasn’t five minutes after the last passenger came off that plane they started the boarding process for flight 371 to HNL.

Hawaiian airlines 717 Hilo airport
Looks like N484HA will be the Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 that takes me to HNL this morning. She sure is pretty!
Boarding Hawaiian airlines 717 Hilo airport
Queued up and ready to board.
Hawaiian 717 tail colors
The Hawaiian Airlines livery captures the spirit of the islands perfectly, IMHO.
ITO airport jet bridge
Slightly disappointed there isn’t any pink or purple in this jet bridge…
Boarding Hawaiian airlines 717
Speaking of missing color, some hot pink on the front of these planes might be nice as well. Just an idea.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 boarding door
Take your time ladies…I’m actually not in much of a rush to go home today.

I had a seat assignment way in the back in the bowels of economy today, so it was a long walk to the butt-end of the airplane once onboard. Once there, I found myself surrounded by screaming kids and tired-looking parents who seemed desperate for help. I don’t have kids, but I totally get how frustrating it can be to travel with children who have no interest in family vacation time. I get a headache just thinking about it, and I was almost tempted to buy a round of drinks for all those poor adults around me who looked like they were emotionally spent.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 first class
This is the first class section of the Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 – I won’t be sitting here today unfortunately. Back to economy I go…
Hawaiian Airlines 717 exit row
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 exit row seats.
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class cabin.
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class cabin.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 economy class seats
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class seats. This is row 23, and I’m taking the window.
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class seat pitch
Hawaiian Airlines 717-200 economy class seat pitch.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 leg room
Leg room isn’t so bad actually – I never heard my knees complain once!
Hawaiian Airlines 717 seat 23F
The view from 23F.

The boarding door closed with both seats next to me empty, which is always an excellent way to begin a flight. Unfortunately, some of those frazzled parents saw those empty seats as a way to offload their children for the 45 minute ride to Honolulu. I suddenly found myself sitting next to two small Japanese kids (brother and sister I presume) who didn’t look to be more than eight years old. The boy was fidgety and restless, while the girl sat motionless and quiet next to me playing with her iPad. I could handle this. Not a big deal.

Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety card
Let’s take a look at the safety card while we wait to push back. Here’s the front cover.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety card inner cover
Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety card inner cover.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety card
Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety card full interior.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety information
Hawaiian Airlines 717 safety card rear cover. Uh oh. More “crashing into the ocean” illustrations…
Hilo airport gates
Pushing off the gate.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 take off roll
Small airports mean short taxi times. Here we are blasting down the runway just moments after pushing back.

The sun was starting to poke through the clouds as we took off, and by the time we reached cruising altitude it was nothing but blue sky above and blue ocean below. These were the colors I came to Hawaii to see, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t be seeing much of them because I was on my way home back to the mainland.

It was hard not to feel jealous of all those tourists down there who were enjoying clear sunny skies on their Hawaiian vacation. I didn’t get that chance this time, but I wasn’t bitter. I love Hawaii more than anyplace in the world, and I will be back soon enough. I’ll get my Hawaiian sunshine again sooner rather than later.

717 engine
Did I mention that I was sitting right next to the engine? It was so close I could see inside!
Boeing 717 engine
Here’s a wider angle view showing more of the engine – and the wing!
Boeing 717 climb
Climbing to cruising altitude.

The cruise over to Honolulu was calm and smooth, with drinks (juice or water) being served from both ends of the airplane by happy and friendly flight attendants. I don’t think of ever seen an unhappy Hawaiian flight attendant, which makes perfect sense, because how could anyone not be happy living and working in Hawaii? Oh I’m sure it happens, but it’s a concept I just can’t seem to grasp.

Hawaiian Airlines in flight beverage
“Jungle Rain” water. How much do you want to bet that it’s just tap water from Cleveland?
Hawaiian Airlines 717 cabin in flight
It may look calm and quiet, but there were kids screaming all around (in stereo).
SANspotter airplane selfie
Screaming kids weren’t bothering me though – the sound of the engine screaming just behind my ear was enough to put a huge smile on my face! Well, more like a slight smirk actually. But I promise you it felt huge!
Flying over Hawaii
Totally jealous of all the people down there on that beach who were enjoying the sunshine that I missed out on during this trip.
Flying over lanai
I’m not totally sure, but I’m guessing that is the island of Lanai.
Flying to oahu
Oahu at last.

The sun was blazing on our approach into HNL, and I tried my best to hold back feelings of bitterness as we made a beautiful approach over turquoise water and bright white sand below. This was exactly the kind of weather that I was hoping to get on this vacation, and the timing could not have been any worse. Oh well. Like I said – I’ll be back.

HNL reef runway
There’s the reef runway off in the distance.
Approaching HNL
Look at the color of that water!
HNL runway 8L approach
Getting lined up for runway 8L.
Arrival st HNL
Welcome to Honolulu!

We made a very smooth landing runway 8L, the very same runway as a matter of fact that I’ve crashed and burned on many times in X-Plane. Seriously – I’ve had some horrific crashes here, so gnarly that I was hoping to find some screenshots to include in this trip report as a bit of comic relief. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I couldn’t find any gory pics to post.

Our taxi to the gate today was quite scenic, made especially nice by the fact that I got a close-up glimpse of a Hawaiian Airlines 717 wearing the brand new livery that had just been unveiled here at HNL the day before. 

Hawaiian Airlines gates HNL
Parked at the gate. Next stop: SAN! By the way, having a short layover in Honolulu sucks. Just sayin’.
Hawaiian Airlines 717 deboarding
Again, no rush people. I’m in no hurry to leave the islands! Take your time.
One last look at N484HA before debating whether or not I wanted to give the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club here in Honolulu another try (it sucked last time).

All in all, it was really nice flight over from Hilo today even with all the screaming kids around me. I don’t know what it is about being in the islands, but it’s really hard to get upset and hold a grudge here. Everything is just so laid-back and calm, and screaming kids with blazing sunshine just when I was about to leave wasn’t bringing me down at all.

I really didn’t want to jump on that flight San Diego (it was Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 Extra Comfort by the way), and I began to think of excuses to extend my trip by several more days…

Comments (2)

  1. Peter

    June 18, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      June 18, 2022

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