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
Duration: 32 minutes
Seat: 23F (economy class)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…