Today is a day I have long waited for, inter-island travel on Hawaiian Airlines. I’ve always wanted to fly on them but have never had the reason; the one time I did they were full all day when I wanted to go to Kona from Honolulu for the paddle boat races.
Well, that would all change as I was now on my way over to Maui from Honolulu taking a Beautiful Boeing 717 for the 25 minute flight. I considered an upgrade but reconsidered when I saw the price and that it would mean a bag of peanuts and maybe a drink. So it really wasn’t justifiable, instead I picked a cozy Exit Row window seat.
Check-in for this flight was at the separate Hawaiian Inter-Island terminal. Check-in was a breeze using their kiosk systems and I stopped to ask a question to an agent at the service center and they were more than helpful. I headed on to TSA which was not busy and took all of about 5 minutes to get through.
I made my way down to the gate passing a number of larger Hawaiian aircraft heading to various destinations from Sydney to Seoul to Los Angeles. Amazing to think this is a central point in the middle of the Pacific to all those places. I found my gate and settled in till boarding. The boarding process was not overly complicated except that the majority of the passengers on this flight were leisure travelers versus business and they’re not used to the boarding system in which each group is called up separately. So, as leisure travelers do, they “hover” right in front of the entry way blocking everyone else out. Some apparently thought that they might somehow miss the chance to get on the aircraft and it would take to the skies without them. The boarding area was not full so I guess the plane was not full and I was later proved correct. Because of this and our friends the first time fliers, I opted to board last, letting them on first so they could crowd the jetbridge, then stand in the aisles looking confused trying to figure out why their overpacked bag won’t fit in the overhead (“but it fit on the last flight…”) followed by them trying figure out how come A is a window seat (being it’s only the first letter in the alphabet), only to have the whole process repeated by the next family. Even by being the last one on the flight, I still had to wait in the jetbridge and watch people stuff things in overheads that wouldn’t fit. Once on board I was greeted by a friendly crew welcoming me aboard. I finally made my way to my exit row seat to find that I had the whole row of 3 seats to myself!
Minutes later after a quick exit row briefing we were pushing back and on our way. We took off from the far runway, made a slight turn and off we went into the sky. Had I been thinking properly I would have requested a seat on the left side of the aircraft as it gives the most beautiful view of Honolulu as you take off, as well as some good shots of the other islands while en-route to Maui. My right hand side of the aircraft gave me a beautiful view … of the Pacific. It went on forever. It was a good reminder though for me just how far away from NYC I am and just how big the oceans are. A little reality check is good every now and then to remind you of where you are in life and put things in perspective.
In-flight service is small but what can you ask for a 25 min flight? They walked through the economy cabin handing out a choice of water or juice. A nice touch considering you get less (if anything) on some other carriers when flying longer!
We began our descent just as soon as we had reached our cruising altitude it seemed, and we started with a small bank turn to the left. Soon we were over the island of Maui descending in to what looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park. I can’t even begin to describe it, one long beautiful hill that rose up only to be cut short by a mountain shooting out of it, all covered by beautiful trees and 1001 different shades of green plants. A thin cloud hovered just next to one of the mountains about half way up, just to show the mountain’s size and might over the cloud making its way through the neighborhood.
We landed and taxied to our gate, I was astonished that this small airport had so many big planes! A number of Hawaiian Airlines widebody aircraft but also other airlines like United and American were also flying larger jets in here. How could I have missed this little island that everyone else knew about? I walked off the jetbridge and there it was- the view of an opposing mountain to the one I had watched on our arrival, another mountain that looked like it too had been plucked right out of 6 million years ago and dropped here. The only difference would be that at the foot of these mountains was a small city.
My friend was flying in from Sacramento non-stop on Alaska airlines. I decided to get comfortable and find a drink and something to eat while I waited. I headed for the airport restaurant called, “Sammy’s” where I would find some kick-ass food and I would fall in love with the Maui Brewing Company’s Blonde Bikini brew. I figured if I was going to indulge on vacation I might as well “go big or go home” as my friend Keith from Texas would say. I opted for the chili cheese fries with bacon and goat cheese. Oh. My. I picked the right one. It was drizzled with a little ranch sauce and served with a side of ranch just in case I wanted more.
I jumped online did some emails and about an hour later I watched an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 land in from Sacramento. I settled my bill and headed down to the gate to meet my friend and head over to Ka’anapali.The airport which does handle a large amount of traffic is rather small and easy to navigate. Car rentals are on site but do require a bus to get to their locations, only about 2-3 min ride. When flying out of the Maui (OGG) airport plan a little extra time as often there is a long line at security and if you’re flying back to the mainland on a major carrier expect a bigger aircraft and in turn a longer line to check in and/or to check bags. There are a few shops to buy last minute gifts but I would hit one of the stores near the airport for cheaper prices.
All in all the Maui airport is a breeze and won’t stress you out leaving you still relaxed from your vacation.