01. Introduction: Catching the Hawaiian Airlines A321neo (by the skin of my teeth)
02. Hawaiian Airlines A321neo first class San Diego to Maui
04. 3 things I wish I would have known about driving to the top of Haleakala
04. Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Ka’anapali
05. Hawaiian Airlines 767-300 economy class Maui to San Diego
Before starting with this trip report, I’d like to make a friendly suggestion (one that is very likely to enhance your reading experience and keep you from becoming grossed out and never returning to my blog ever again): stop whatever it is you’re doing and gather all the disinfectant and wet wipes that you rustle up. Set that stuff beside you, within easy reach of your free hand, and prepare yourself for uncontrollable urges to scrub and clean in a way that would make your mother shed the proudest tears of her life.
Proceed with reading when you’re ready.
Maui/Kahului, HI (OGG) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Duration: 5 hours 15 minutes
Seat: 22A (economy class)
For those of you who prefer video instead of a full written review, here’s the one I created for this flight (complete with an appropriate 80’s-themed soundtrack courtesy of Epidemic Sound):
Is there any worse feeling in the world than walking into a Hawaiian airport (any Hawaiian airport) knowing that beach time is over and it’s time to go home? I was feeling just about as low as I did the last time that I left Hawaii, which on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most happy), I was solidly at level 4. It was by far from being the worst day of my life of course, but leaving Hawaii ranks right up there with summer vacation ending and having to go back to face the reality of bad school lunches and heartless bullies.
Making matters worse was the fact that there are no Priority Pass lounges here at the Maui / Kahului airport, and once again I was denied the satisfaction of whipping out my shiny gold and black Priority Pass card and strolling into a swanky lounge leaving the noise and chaos of a busy terminal behind (with a pretentious hand gesture of course). That complimentary membership was one of the primary reasons why I got my American Express Platinum card, and if I’m not taking advantage of the benefits, I naturally feel guilty as heck about it. Oh well. Maybe next time.
It’s been 18 long years since the last time I was inside the terminal here at OGG, and I don’t recall the place being such a dump. Yeah, I said it. To be fair, I am a much more experienced traveler now than I was way back then, and I have been through some really nice airports over the past few years which have unfortunately made this place look not-so-hot in comparison.
Making matters worse was how warm and humid it was in the central area, causing everyone to be dripping in disgusting shirt-soaking sweat as they stood idly in line at Starbucks waiting for their ice cold Frappuccino’s. I don’t know about you, but the thought of being packed into a big 767 touching arms with 200 other people drenched in sweat wasn’t easing the pain of having to go home.
Adding to the frustration was the fact that there is absolutely nothing healthy to eat at this airport. If you’re looking for pizza, hot dogs, or roast beef sandwiches slathered in mayonnaise, you’ll have no issues. But for anyone trying to be somewhat healthy, you’re pretty much out of luck and you’re gonna have to wait until you get home to eat anything that isn’t going to shave a year or two off your life. In the end, I settled on a hot turkey panini from Starbucks which, according to my calculations, only shortened my life by two months (better than 12 I guess).
Can you tell I’m having fun yet? I hate leaving Hawaii, so I do apologize (like, really hard) for sounding like such a Negative Nancy so far. Unfortunately, there are more things to complain about in the coming paragraphs. But first, it’s almost time to board the plane!
Boarding was delayed by about 25 minutes or so, with no announcement or apology from the gate agents. The video display there at the podium kept saying “On Time”, but nothing was happening and there didn’t seem to be any reason for the wait. I guess that ended up being kind of a good thing, because it did extend my Hawaiian vacation by just a little bit.
As you recall in the introduction for this trip, this flight was supposed to be an A321 but was switched to a 767 a few days after my booking. I originally had an exit row seat reserved, and I naturally assumed that they were going to give me an exit row seat on this flight as well. I never confirmed it – I just assumed that it was going to happen (which is always a bad thing to do). I didn’t even realize that I lost my exit row seat until I was on the plane setting my butt down into a regular economy seat.
The fact that I lost my exit row seat was making me a little bit grumbly again, but thankfully that was very short-lived because the boarding process finished very quickly and only about half of the seats were occupied. I guess that’s one huge advantage for an aircraft swap to something larger than what was originally scheduled. Lots of empty seats, including the one next to me!
Okay, this is the part of the review where you may start feeling tendencies to scrub and clean everything in your immediate area. Hopefully you took my advice at the beginning of this post and have amassed an arsenal of disinfectant and wet wipes, because the next three pictures are kind of gross.
That’s disgusting. Now, it’s not really difficult for me to imagine how planes can get this dirty, but I am totally amazed that the cleaning crews miss this kind of stuff between flights. Not only was it horrible to look at, it was also very sticky and moist so my natural reaction was to sit there in my seat keeping all my extremities tight to my body, not touching anything.
Oy vey. Hawaiian Airlines is my number one favorite US carrier at the moment, but it’s stuff like this which makes me think twice about the really high pedestal I’ve placed them on in my head. As I said, I totally understand that these interiors take a lot of abuse and that spills and splashes happen, but whose decision was it to deem this acceptable and send this aircraft out for another flight in this condition?
Keep in mind that this is a leisure airline that many first time visitors to Hawaii will fly. Dirty airplanes such as this one can’t be doing good things for customer retention, and my hope is that this particular aircraft was just an anomaly in the fleet and it got a proper scrub down and refresh shortly after this flight to San Diego. Better yet, maybe there’s a chance that they took it out back and burned it to the ground instead.
Our departure out of Kahului wasn’t the most beautiful take off I’ve ever experienced from the Hawaiian islands, thanks in large part to the really dirty windows and not-so-flattering lighting conditions. I know that it seems like it would be really hard to get ugly pictures while taking off from any airport in Hawaii, but unfortunately that’s all I got this time and I’m almost embarrassed to post this sequence:
With nothing much to see out of those dirty and scratchy windows, I pulled the shade shut just two minutes after departure and waited for the service to begin. A video began playing on the monitors with the volume pumped out at a very high level on the overhead speakers – which ended up being really annoying since there was no way to turn it off. I dealt with it knowing that it was likely to shut off after just a few minutes, but it ended up playing for 45.
The cabin crew started coming down the aisles with snack items for purchase first, and they followed that up quickly with the free hot meal service. I was pretty hungry at this point considering that the only thing I had eaten so far today was that turkey panini from Starbucks, so I didn’t really care what they were going to put down in front of me. My appetite was voracious and I would’ve devoured a tire off of a ‘76 Pinto if that’s all they had.
I was feeling somewhat creative and productive after lunch, so I pulled out my iPad and began pecking away at another trip report for a couple hours (I think it was the Emirates business class review). I’ve discovered recently that I do some of my best writing while on airplanes, so I felt pretty good about what I managed to accomplish before wrapping it up and catching a bit of sleep before arriving into San Diego.
I never used to be able to write so well while on the move, but that’s definitely changing as I’m getting older and I imagine that someday I’ll be that stereotypical old man hunched over his
typewriter iPad in the corner of a train station an airport somewhere pecking away at his latest masterpiece.
The lights came on with about one hour of flying time remaining, allowing the flight attendants to come down the aisles once again with free Mai Tais. “No thanks” I said with a somewhat sad and depressed tone in my voice, knowing all too well that the sweet and sugary concoction of rum and curaqo would be a crushing and painful reminder of what I had just left behind. I really mean it when I said that I have a hard time leaving Hawaii!
It was right about this time that they started playing that video again with the very annoying audio pumped over the speakers, but at least it didn’t play as long this time and they shut it down for good as we were on the descent into San Diego. The cabin lights were turned off that point and I enjoyed yet another beautiful approach into America’s Finest City in complete darkness.
In conclusion, I’d like to state for the record that the cleanliness of this aircraft didn’t change my perception of Hawaiian Airlines at all. This cabin crew, just as with any other Hawaiian Airlines flight that I’ve ever been on, were nothing short of exemplary – and I am of the firm opinion that they are continually setting the bar very high for all other US airlines to match. I know for a fact that their A330s and A321s are sparkling clean on the inside, so I’m willing to let this one bad experience slide and pretend that it didn’t even happen (other than creating a video and writing this 2500 word post with 50 pictures lol).
An finally, as I close this post, I can only wonder how many of you are sitting there wide-eyed in front of your computer/tablet/phone donned in rubber gloves up to your elbows and empty bottles of disinfectant scattered in every direction, completely mortified about the things you just witnessed…
Sorry about that.