It’s time to finish up this travelogue, so here’s a Wednesday post to wrap it up.
When I was planning this trip, I knew I’d fly out of LAX since I snagged that United Polaris seat using miles. But did I really want to have to come back to LAX? No way. We now have options in Long Beach that I only could have dreamed about a couple years ago, so I was set on flying back there.
- Returning to Molokai Starts With My First Flight in the United Polaris Seat
- Entering Hawai’i Remains a Terrible and Disorganized Process
- Every Route is the Scenic Route Going To and From Molokai
- Three Quiet Nights at the Hotel Molokaʻi
- Two Days of Deeper Exploration on Molokai
- A Hawaiian A321neo Takes Me Home
I could have gone to Honolulu or Kahului, but for me, it was a no-brainer. Connecting from Mokulele to any other airline in Honolulu is awful and requires a shuttle transfer. In Kahului, it’s a walk. Both Southwest and Hawaiian have earlier returns out of Kahului, which I like a lot, so that sealed it. In the end, I chose Hawaiian for two reasons. One, I could take a later flight out of Molokai in the morning and feel less rushed. And two, I could take my first coach flight on the A321neo. Yes, I had flown it in First Class on the Long Beach inaugural, but that’s a whole different experience.
I used the equivalent of somewhere around $280 in Chase points for the flights. I almost went with basic economy for $40 less because the flight looked empty, but I was concerned that if Mokulele was late and I missed my connection, I wouldn’t be able to change. I just ponied up.
In a previous chapter, I had just arrived at the Kahului commuter terminal. Once I got through, I walked over the short couple blocks to the main ticketing area. This is where it got a little confusing. I saw lines of people all over the place, and I had no idea which one was where I wanted to be.
Eventually, I walked past the lines and I could then see where the TSA Precheck line was located. Having checked in on my phone, I just walked right into the line and was through in about 5 minutes.
I kept going to the gate area where I was able to plop down on the big window sill benches that I wish every airport had. I just sat there staring out the window and sweating from my hurried walk in the heat, hoping nobody pulled me aside thinking I had a fever.
At some point, the gate agent came on and apologized that we would be late. He said something about a shortage of staff, and they were working as hard as they could to get the airplane cleaned. It had just come in on time from San Diego that morning, so it wasn’t an issue of a late arriving airplane.
I was able to relax and compose myself knowing that we had some time to kill. It turns out we didn’t board all that late, and the flight wasn’t horribly full, so it was a minor inconvenience.
May 21, 2021
Hawaiian 72 Lv Kahului 1120a Arr Long Beach 735p
Kahului (OGG): Gate 23, Runway 2, Depart 14m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 9, Runway 30, Arrive 10m Late
N216HA (msn 8471), Airbus A321-271neo, Maile Lei colors, ~70% Full
Seat 26J, Coach
Flight Time 4h52m
I had chosen a seat over the wing toward the back of the first coach cabin because it had an empty middle. It stayed that way the whole time, which was a nice treat. This flight wasn’t all that full, but the flight attendant acted like that wasn’t normal. I wasn’t complaining.
The seats are a nice cloth. I know some people like leather, but I’ll take the cloth any day since it prevents me from sliding around. Legroom was fine but certainly nothing special.
This airplane feels more barebones than you’d expect for something that regularly flies 5+ hours… in other words it looked like an American Airlines airplane. This had the same exact device holder that I had on my American return from Puerto Vallarta and no seatback screen.
I put my phone in there and plugged it in to the USB charging port and all was well.
The flight attendants got the cabin ready to go, and then they flipped on the Hawaiian mood lighting. Nice little gimmick there.
We took off into a layer of clouds that sat menacingly at the end of the runway. We were above them quickly and I had this view of Haleakala as we flew out.
Again, we took a northerly route, but this time I think it’s because turbulence was forecasted at more southern routes. It was smooth for the first few hours.
awaiian has brought back food onboard, so I got the customary barbecue chicken hot pocket and a pack of pau hana mix. There’s still no liquor onboard, but it’s getting closer to normal.
One thing I strongly disliked were the multiple announcements at the beginning of the flight telling people to put their window shades down. No way, man. I picked a window so I could look outside. I put it down halfway, and nobody ever yelled at me for it, but that is just not cool to shame people for wanting to look out the window.
As I mentioned, I put my phone up and watched some movies. First up was Impractical Jokers which makes me laugh as a show but sucks as a movie. Still, it’s the perfect kind of mildly-entertaining fare that works for an airplane. I followed that up with Superintelligence which just wasn’t very good either. I really did not do well in the movie department on this trip.
As we got closer, the seatbelt sign went on when we were passing over the jetstream which was plunging south along the coast, according to the flight attendant announcement. It didn’t get too bumpy, but the sign stayed on the rest of the time.
We were on track for the Central California coast, but then we made a turn that pointed us right at Catalina Island.
As we descended over Catalina and on to the land in Orange County, Hawaiian music began playing on the speakers. The sky looked eerily beautiful as it reflected the remaining sunlight.
We lined up and landed just a few minutes late with a quick taxi back to the gate. Once off, I stopped to snag this photo.
I like the neo a lot. Those engines are so quiet, and it’s a comfortable ride. Do I like the A330 better if I’m flying Hawaiian? Oh heck yeah. But I’d probably take the A321neo to Long Beach vs the A330 to LAX any day.
And that brings us to the end of this Cranky Travelogue. I hope you enjoyed it.