Hawaiian Takes Me to Maui But Can’t Get Me Home (Trip Report)

Hawaiian, Trip Reports

Back in 2019, Cranky Concierge had a very good year. We hit our stretch goal, and that meant I would follow through on my promise to take the whole team to Hawaiʻi. That trip was booked for April 2020. It obviously didn’t happen and for awhile there, it seemed like it never would. But things rebounded, and in 2021 we were back above our original plan, so it was time to finally make it happen.

We settled on Maui, and thanks to a favorable group rate from our partners, we were able to stay at the fantastic Andaz Maui. We had some hesitation after the fires tore through Lahaina, but the Andaz is in Wailea, far from the fires, and it became clear that the island needed tourism to return.

I’ll talk more about being on Maui in a later post, but first, we have to talk about an underwhelming pair of flights.

The best option was naturally to fly from Long Beach. Southwest doesn’t do Maui nonstop at this time of year, so Hawaiian it was. We used 20,000 points each per direction. As the trip came closer, I was a little worried about all the Pratt & Whitney engine issues causing us trouble. We thought about switching to LAX because space was wide open not only on the Hawaiian A330 but on other airlines too. Even with the two days prior to our flight being delayed, we decided to stick with it. We had no issues going out, but the return was a different story.

Not having to check bags, we left home just about an hour before departure. Nobody was at security, and on the other side we sat down just as they were pre-boarding our oasis in a sea of Southwest.

We were in group 4, and we boarded toward the end of that group.

Hawaiian 71
October 3, 2023

From Long Beach
➤ Scheduled Departure: 850a
➤ Actual Departure: 842a
➤ From Gate: 1
➤ Wheels Up: 854a
➤ From Runway: 30

To Kahului
➤ Wheels Down: 1107a
➤ On Runway: 2
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 1130a
➤ Actual Arrival: 1117a
➤ At Gate: 33

➤ Type: Airbus A321-271neo
➤ Delivered: November 21, 2018
➤ Registered: N217HA, msn 8578
➤ Livery: Maile Lei

➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 24J
➤ Load: ~70% Full
➤ Flight Time: 5h13m

The flight was not full. We sat down in the comfortable cloth-covered seats, and the flight attendants welcomed everyone on board. They told everyone to turn to the person next to you and say “aloha.” It was a nice touch.

Surprisingly, we pushed back early and were in the air only four minutes after our scheduled departure. Those Pratts may be causing trouble, but they are so nice and quiet when they’re flying. We climbed our way just south of LAX and stayed north for much of the flight.

The first half of the flight was mostly smooth with some light chop. They came through with a croissant breakfast sandwich which was not bad. I had some water too.

The A321s don’t have in-seat video, but they do have onboard streaming. I fired up my phone, put it in the device holder, and watched Weird: The Al Yankovic Story which was exactly the kind of fake biopic you’d hope Weird Al would put together. I highly recommend it.

Over the next couple hours, the flight attendants regularly came through with a big bottle of water to top people off or give them a new cup. About halfway through, we found ourselves skimming cloud tops and the bumps picked up. The seatbelt sign came on the pilots told the flight attendants to sit down.

On the other side, some light chop continued, but the seatbelt sign stayed on… forever. The flight attendants were clearly allowed to get up, but the sign never came off for the rest of the flight. I hate when pilots do this, because everyone just starts ignoring it. Just before descent, the flight attendants even came on and said “we know the sign is on, but if you have to use the restroom, do it now since we’ll start descending soon.”

Meanwhile, I decided to turn on Territorial Airwaves, a mini-tradition when I fly Hawaiian to the islands. But this time, it was nowhere to be found. I think it was replaced by something called “Hawaiian Legacy Favorites,” which wasn’t quite the same.

About an hour out, I had expected to get a second service where they handed out some of that rum punch that gets you in the mood for being on island time. But there was no second service. The only thing they handed out was the paper agriculture form and nothing else. I later learned from Hawaiian that they discontinued the second service in 2021. They tell me they still have the punch available during the first service, but who wants that in the early morning? This was a real bummer.

I decided to take the survey that was linked in the streaming portal, but, well, this is where it took me.

So I went back to staring out the window and soon enough land came into view.

From my vantage point on the right, I saw Molokaʻi first, followed by West Maui. We passed to the east of the airport and over Kihei before turning around to land. I still can’t get over how brown the landscape is there now.

With sugar cane cultivation having ended on the island, the land has shifted to brown grasses as a legacy of the former crop and water diversion that has altered the island. There is a smaller farm in one area, but this is a drier side of the island, so it shouldn’t have looked as green as it did. Still, it is a stark contrast to what once was.

Before the flight, we were told it would be 5 hours and 26 minutes, but they must have found a shortcut, because we landed a mere 5 hours and 13 minutes after lifting off from Long Beach. Our gate was occupied, but we didn’t have to wait long until it opened up. We were off as quickly as possible, and it was nice to see the airport back to a more normal state compared to the last time I was there with all the COVID rules and checks.

The team was ready to go home on Monday, but I was staying one extra day to close everything up. Sunday evening, someone on my team received an email with the subject “URGENT: Important flight change notification.” Yep, his flight back to Long Beach was canceled. The next morning, I received the same email for my flight on Tuesday. It turns out the whole week of flying from Kahului to both Long Beach (and San Francisco) was canceled.

I’ll have a closer look at how Hawaiian is suffering with this Pratt & Whitney problem tomorrow, but at that time, I just cared about getting home. The email from Hawaiian said that they would contact me about reaccommodation. They did eventually call several hours later, but in both our cases, the options were not good. We opted for a refund and pressed ahead with finding a new option on another airline. I’ll talk about that in a future post.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

20 comments on “Hawaiian Takes Me to Maui But Can’t Get Me Home (Trip Report)

  1. As mentioned on Twitter, I had a chance to fly HA LAX-OGG a few weeks back. Since my first time on HA was in June 2021 I didn’t realize that the second service was missing; good to know. Had an uneventful flight, but the only neo ride we took was AA on the way back.

  2. Recently flew AS to the islands, and they still had the second service (and inbetween the FA for the F cabin was coming into the PC section of coach to take drinks orders). It’s a long flight, so just one service would be a bit disappointing.

    1. You decided to go to an island that is still suffering while acknowledging a problem with the fleets engines, and then complain flights are cancelled. No shit. I’m sure they offered you a reroute through Oahu. Also, no, we don’t need your tourism. We need the US to give us back our land and go home.

      The ignorance of you saying since the sugar cane is gone “whatever used to grow in Kihei” will just grow back is atrocious. Maybe when west Maui land company and rich mainland haoles reestablish our water rights, but that’ll never happen.

      Please never come back.

      1. If a flight is scheduled, the airline should, obviously be able to operate it. Or looking at it the other way, if they know they have a problem with the aircraft type’s engines, they should not schedule more flights than they can operate.

        As for the rest of your post, I am not a fan of how Hawaiians lost their islands, just like I am not a fan of a lot of things white people did in past centuries (and often continuing today in some shape or form; looking at you, Florida ). I don’t know what the answer is, specifically for Hawaii. Returning all of the islands to native Hawaiians would not particularly bother me. But would Hawaii and Hawaiians not want a tourism industry? What is the alternative?

      2. Hawaii and specifically Maui used to be my favorite place on earth. When I first started going to the islands in 1974, there were television commercials reminding the locals that tourism is the only industry so treat them accordingly. Be nice to the tourists, what concept. There is a way to tell tourists that you expect them to respect the land without being obnoxious. Have you thought about what happens when you succeed in keeping all the tourists and their money away?

      3. Gatotaco – Your comment has been bothering me ever since you left it. Originally I wasn’t going to respond, but I’ve changed my mind.

        I wish you could channel your anger into education and civil discussion, because that would be far more helpful to your cause. My comment saying that the land would just go back to whatever was growing before was just a throwaway comment without thinking, but of course you’re right and that’s not the case. Sugar and water diversion has changed that landscape forever. I don’t know what it would have looked like without it since the water fight began so long ago, but certainly it did not go back to the way it was and probably will not. I’m sorry for that comment and have changed it, though I certainly wish you could have pointed it out with more aloha instead of vitriol.

        You can say you don’t need our tourism, but really, you do. The economy is built on it. You can talk about wanting to push out the US and reinstate the kingdom, but that can’t just erase the 130 years of changes that have occurred since the kingdom was illegally overthrown. It’s never that simple. I personally wish that the independence movement spent more time on education and trying to get more allies to learn about the history and the culture. Just wishing for all visitors to go away and having the US give your island back isn’t realistic.

        Maybe you’re a West Maui resident, or maybe you’ve lost friends in the fire and you’re just lashing out because of the trauma. If so, I’m very sorry.

  3. How did the 321neo compare to flying on a MAX? Pretty similar? I love the MAX and I’m itching to try out one of the United neos coming into service soon, which will also have the Pratt engine.

  4. I had a similar issue about a month ago with my flight from OAK to Maui. Hawaiian wasn’t very helpful and offered me a flight out of SEA and then SFO at no charge but wouldn’t change the return flight without paying.

  5. Our flight from Portland to Maui was canceled just as we were boarding two weeks ago. Customer service was no help at all so we ended up paying 50% more to fly Delta just so we could get there the same day and now we are waiting for a refund. We were told they are only working on claims dated August 29th now and today is October 16th so I don’t expect to get our refund anytime soon. This was our first time taking Hawaiian airlines and we will never do this again.

    1. Was that due to the engine issues?

      How did they suddenly discover that they couldn’t operate this flight?

  6. Was in Las Vegas for a reunion so flew out of Las Vegas to HNL, then from HNL home to LAX. Hadn’t been to Hawaii since before pandemic and didn’t realize Hawaiian moved to the international terminal and that you have to trek over to terminal 3 to get your luggage – and that your private car can no longer pick you up at the curb but that you have to take a shuttle to zone 20A…. What a nightmare! We’re planning on terminating our Hawaiian miles cards and getting Delta Skymiles cards and flying Delta to Hawaii from now on just so we never have to fly out of or into the LAX international terminal again.

  7. Actually, not all of the land is sitting there untouched. At least 700,000 was purchased and is growing food for Maui. Citrus trees, avocado trees, kales, broccolini, sweet onion, watermelon, butternut squash, radish, potatoes and other food crops, 2,000 acres will be used as pasture for grass fed beef. All of this for island consumption.

  8. Cranky, what is your obsession with Hawaii? I have visited there (flew for Moukalele for a week as a pilot that was enough for me, a week) and as a white male, you aren’t very welcome is what I got from my experience? There are so many other places to travel to, I don’t get why a writer of travel continues to be so one track minded? Europe? Chile? Argentina? Mexico? Panama? Japan? Even the Caribbean?

    Let me know if you need some trip advice, I have been to all of the above. I love reading your blog, but you really need to expand your horizons beyond Hawaii, The PNW and Scotland?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier