After thirty days on O’ahu, it was finally time to come home. For the ride back, there weren’t any good award options available so we surveyed our choices for paid tickets. The first thought was to fly straight back to Long Beach, but we wanted to get home earlier in the day. All the morning departures from Honolulu come back to LAX, so we naturally went with Hawaiian. Not only would it extend our vacation for another 5 hours, but it would let us sit 2-2 on an A330 without having to deal with a middle seat. When the price dropped down to $243.60 each back in January, we pounced on it.
I checked us in the night before online and paid for 4 bags. Then we set off at 5:30am to head to the airport. After gassing up, we arrived at the rental car center to drop the car. You can walk to Terminal 2 check-in areas, but with all our luggage, Hawaiian’s location in Terminal 1 was just too far. They have a small shuttle bus that takes you over there, so we hopped on.
We got off and went into the check-in lobby, and that’s when we encountered the most frustrating part of the day. We first went to a kiosk. It was slow, but we made it through to the end, printed our boarding passes, and then got a message that it couldn’t print our bag tags so we should try another kiosk or see an agent.
There was an agent near us, so I asked her. She was busy chatting with a regular customer who she seemed to know. Then she walked off saying she’d come right back, and she never did. I moved over to try the next kiosk. It was spinning for awhile trying to pull up the reservation, so when another employee walked by, I asked him if he could help. He seemed to not understand our issue, and when I turned back to the kiosk to show him, he had walked away.
The second kiosk eventually printed out two bag tags and then… nothing. This was maddening and we were getting closer to departure time. The family we traveled with had their kiosk let them get to the end before restarting on multiple occasions, so we all needed help. We saw another employee walk by, so we grabbed her. She looked at us and just told us to go stand in line at Guest Services.
As we walked over, the first helpful agent we encountered greeted us. We told him what happened, and he said not to bother with Guest Services. He pulled us out of line and got our replacement tags for the other two bags.
Our friends, however, went to Guest Services where they were scolded for checking in so late, being told their bags might not make it. Apparently trying to get kiosks to work for 20+ minutes isn’t Hawaiian’s problem.
I was quite surprised by how poor the experience was. By the time we went through security, cleared the agricultural inspection, and walked over to the gate, boarding had begun.
August 17, 2019
Hawaiian 10 Lv Honolulu 8a Arr Los Angeles 430p
Honolulu (HNL): Gate C1, Runway 8R, Depart 8m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 58, Runway 25L, Arrive 7m Early
N375HA, Airbus A330-243, 2001 Pualani colors, 100% Full
Seat 24H, Coach
Flight Time 5h9m
The airplane was packed, but there was plenty of overhead bin space available. We took our seats on the right side over the wing. I think this is the first time I’ve been in coach on a refurbished A330. It has nicer, bigger screens and the seats were comfortable. (Though I’m not sure if the seats themselves are any different.)
We pushed back on time and took off into the clearing morning skies for the flight home.
Once in the air, I was a little put off by the way Hawaiian handles its service flow. There was an announcement that the flight attendants would come by and offer drinks plus snacks for sale. There was no mention of the free meal that would come right after, so it felt like an effort to get people to buy snacks without full disclosure, unless I missed something.
The meal did follow, but that is now down to a glorified hot pocket which wasn’t bad and a little breakfast bar thing that I didn’t like at all.
Hawaiian has now made entertainment free onboard, so I decided to look for movies. I quickly changed my mind, however, when I saw the entire final season of Veep was available. I still hadn’t seen the last season, so this was perfect. The 7 episodes were the right amount of time to keep me busy the entire flight home.
The only issue was that the headset jack was temperamental. It would only play sound through one ear unless I held the thing in place. So I got an arm workout.
The flight itself was entirely uneventful. I was sitting next to my daughter on this flight, and she won the battle to close the window. I would have overridden her, but there were a solid low cloud layer and I was deep into Veep. So I begrudgingly let her do it.
Later in the flight, the flight attendants came through regularly with water or coffee. They also dropped off little chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.
About an hour out, the flight attendants came through with the second service. This one included a free Koloa rum punch for anyone interested as well as a Pau Hana snack mix bag. (Fun fact: Pau Hana translates into “salty death.”) I sipped my punch slowly as a last feeling of aloha before reality would set back in.
In the middle of the final episode of Veep is when the interruptions began. I had already ignored the earlier “free” promo from Shutterfly where you could get an album, but the video credit card promo followed by a flight attendant-led promo over the PA was too much. I started to get nervous that I wouldn’t be able to finish the season since Hawaiian shuts off IFE during final approach. Fortunately, I made it just in time.
We came in from the south on a beautiful summer day where the smog wasn’t even too bad. That was good news since it meant we’d land on the south runways and have a very quick taxi back to the gate. We even lined up next to a United 787 for our approach. From there, it was all like clockwork. We headed into the terminal, the bags came off, and we hopped into a Lyft XL (to hold all our bags) for the ride home.
While there were things that bugged me about this flight, I still wouldn’t have been happier flying anyone else. The 2 seats on the side is a huge benefit for our family of four. And that Hawaiian service onboard along with the rum punch and chocolate macadamia nuts may sound unimportant, but it helps extend the vacation by a few more hours. If there’s anything that needs work, it’s the check-in experience.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the increased coverage of the Hawaiian market over the last couple months. Now it’s finally done. Back to our regular programming.