Seattle to Honolulu
Honolulu to Auckland
Auckland to Christchurch
Wellington to Rotorua
Auckland to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle
Wednesday 9th October 2013
After leaving the Holiday Inn and heading over to SeaTac to deposit the truck in the Wallypark garage (thank you costco vouchers) I caught the shuttle over to the terminal so that I could check in. I got a text from one of my coworkers to say she was already checked in and through security and that I can meet her on the other side. Only one other coworker to track down and it would all be good.
The shuttle dropped me off in the total wrong spot but hey, that’s a parking shuttle for you and I walked through the terminal to the Hawaiian check in desks which are located in the far south of the terminal with the International Airlines. Check in was fairly empty and funnily enough I stepped into the International Line right behind my other coworker. Perfect!
It was then that I found out things were not going to move fast at all. My coworker had been in line for almost 20 minutes and not because it wasn’t staffed. They were churning people through fast as anything, but the problem was that the family infront were delaying things due to some passport issues… who doesn’t realise you need a passport to leave the country.. seriously? But whatever. It took a further 15-20 minutes to even move forward and eventually they checked me in at a non international counter which they could of done in the first place, but I digress. Managed to talk my way into getting Priority Boarding and Security on a ticket that I shouldn’t (thank you Velocity Gold Card and a smile) and with about 45 minutes before boarding it was time to tackle SeaTac security.
Security wasn’t to bad and we were able to get through the priority lines fairly quickly. I had a quick discussion with one of the TSA agents about football teams (Hook Em Horns!) and that meant that my time in the line up wasn’t all that bad. Maybe it is just me but SeaTac TSA are improving somewhat, even If I still get the occasional pat n grab when I have nothing wrong with me (stupid body screening). After pointing my coworker in the direction of some shops I headed to starbucks to grab some caffeine before jumping on the train to the South Satelitte.
By the time we got through security and I had my coffee with me and off the train, there was a bare 15-20 minutes till boarding and with my priorities already set straight, I sat at the gate chatting with my coworker. I made myself known at the counter to see if I could wingle my way into a window seat (sorry ladies, but this Avgeek wants a window on a daylight flight), I was told I would be paged if they found one for me. 10 minutes later… “Paging Mr Muir to the Podium”... Score! It may be a window in the very rear of the aircraft but hey, it will do.
Hawaiian Airlines - HA21
Seattle Tacoma - Honolulu
Boeing 767-300 (N596HA)
Economy Class - Seat 46A
Boarding: 0800 (Gate S16)
Push Back: 0845
Take off Roll: 0901 (Runway 16L)
Top of Descent: 1107
Touch Down: 1132 (Runway 8L)
Shut Down: 1141 (Gate 59)
Boarding started with a massive line of gate lice and constant offers to get check bags, so although there is meant to be lots of “Hawiian Hospitality” some things just don’t change. First up were familes with children under the age of 2 (which was strictly specified and enforced from what I could see), along with elderly etc. Then first class, then priority, then who knows cause I was already onboard the aircraft.
Todays ride was a non winglet equipped 763 (no Extended range here!) which although not a new type for me, was unique as there isn’t that many airlines not flying Non ER birds these days. The interior looked pretty good for this old bird and although there wasn’t seat back IFE, I didn’t mind. I was happy with my laptop and my ipod for this flight. The next flight is where I would be wanting some seatback goodness.
All the way to the very back I headed and the aisles are narrow but then any 767 is, though 2-3-2 is a rare site these days. Seats looked ok with a slim line fit and reasonable seat pitch, nothing spacious but nothing overtly disgusting either. My only problem was that I seemed to of gotten the only window that was scratched over to eternity so my dream of photos out the windows were pretty shattered. But meh!
Boarding progressed as I settled in and the flight filled to 100% capacity (as they said it would) with not much effort and although their was lots of talk of specific space for bags in the overhead, the boarding process seemed to go off without a hassle and not that much of the usual “Sit down, shut up” attitude you get from some airlines (*cough* United *cough*). I did like the fact that they announced that we were fully boarded, doors closed and departing on time, prior to the safety demo, and depart on time we did, pushing back right on 0845.
The taxi out was fine and I missed a shot of Alaska’s new livery which was revealed the day before (but hey I have a new special scheme to hunt). We taxiied north to the 16s and after a few take offs in front of us, we lined up and held. Not sure why we held as we were the only aircraft around, no one was behind us and there hadn’t been an aircraft in front of us to wait for. Meh whatever. The 767 rolled with a little bit less vigour than what I have experienced on ER birds and were soon climbing out to the south and with a gentle right turn, signalling our turn away from the mainland headed towards sunshine and happiness.
Once through 10,000ft I broke out the ipod to get some noise going but the seat belt sign did not come off for quite some time, till when we hit full cruise. I don’t know if this is a Hawaiian thing or not but to be honest it just felt like I was trapped. I have probably flown to much premium travel this year as I am to used to eating or doing whatever when I want but flying down the back of the plane means one thing, you work on their timetable. You eat when your told, drink when your told, even use the bathroom when your told. They did stress the fact that you shouldn’t be moving about before the seatbelt sign gets off, but that didn’t stop anyone (as usual).
A couple of little bumpy bits on the climb to cruise and once at cruise the seatbelt sign came off mere moments before they began the morning service. Unlike every other airline in the USA, Hawaiian Airlines provide complimentary meals at meal times on all flights. A very rare thing and obviously I wouldn’t expect a massive meal or anything but free is free. Being that we were taking off before 9am and it still being before 6 in Hawaii, our service that morning was to be a “Continental Breakfast”. I had read online that it was a “Cheese Plate” but what was handed to me was more of a Fruit Plate, but hey, I like fruit and to be honest, prefer it over cheese. There was one solitary piece of local cheese but that was it. Meh the standout was the real metal fork! Something I did not expect to see on the meal, let alone on any US based carrier. Hell even the Aussie carriers don’t give you metal cutlery.
The breakfast service was accompanied by Tea, Coffee, Water and Juice. Coffee was of course Hawaiian and not that bad, and of course other than the usual juices on offer, there was also POG. Pass-O-Guava juice (POG) seems to be a Hawaiian staple and it is kind of like what Biscoff is to Delta, you know your flying HA when you see a POG cup onboard (though they were pouring from cans). The fruit was fresh, the coffee good and tasty (not overly hot) so breakfast went off without a hitch. I liked the fact that they gave you a little gift to take with you (instant Kona Coffee satchel) but sadly it was marked “Made in China” for something that was advertised as “Hawaiian” (well 10% hawiian at least).
After breakfast was cleared away, another round of drinks were offered and they settled in for a long flight across the pacific. Our flight time was blocked as just over 6 hours but in reality 5h 27 minutes today apparently. A little bit of schedule padding never hurt anyone. Although my IFE jack didn’t work all that well, I could barely hear the music that was playing, I was suprised to learn that they did play one movie during the flight (Iron Man 3). Hawaiian offers Tablets for rental but you should pre book them on the ground (and you can at a seperate desk in the terminal, next to the gate) so you don’t miss out as they only load a limited amount. For this 767 flight, I would of been screwed had I not brought my laptop or tablet.
I settled in for a long overwater flight of working, writing and coffee drinking, what seems to be the norm for me when travelling right? The crew on this flight were good and they constantly came through the cabin offering water or you could head up to the back of the aircraft to the “Snack Bar” where you could purchase a snack or pick up a drink. Really good if you ask me!
The flight kind of just cruised by and nothing all that uneventful happened. I worked, I read, I listened to some music and just generally chilled. There wasn't much else to do really. I ended up finishing the work that I wanted to do, along with also the magazine I had brought with me (conserving tablet power for the onward flight so that I could watch some movies).
Before to long the final beverage service began and it was more of a snack service as not only could you get some free rum punch but you could also get a packet of crisps (chips whatever you want to call them) with your drink. Nice! Looking good all around for Hawaiian it seems. After my tiny tiny tiny cup of diet coke (the crew member didnt even give me more than a mouthful, after filling the cup with ice and then a splash of diet coke that was it!) I sat back and enjoyed my banana (thanks Holiday Inn) and we cruised ever closer to Hawaii.
Starting to pack things up about 45 minutes out from Honolulu seems the norm with the airline as they announced an imminent descent (15 mins earlier than most would) and that they would have to start collecting tablets etc. So not the thing you want to hear I guess if you had purchased one, as the movie on the main screen had finished.
As we started turns for descent into Honolulu the islands started to slowly come into view and I would have to say that if you are heading west from the USA out to HNL, the Starboard side of the aircraft would be the smartest bet for the best photos, as all I got was ocean. We turned over what looked like Waikiki maybe before making another right turn towards the active runway. That was a good thing for me as this was the same approach I had flown on the last time I flew to Hawaii and would mean one thing, Joint Base Pearl Hickam. Being able to get some landing shots of HNL is great, getting landing shots of HNL as you flew over what was up until a little time ago called “Hickam Air Force Base” is always great. Last time I had managed to snap an E4 on the deck with a few F-22’s on the line as well. What would be in store for me today!
As we glided in over Hickam there was plenty of heavy metal on the ground with lots of C-17s and a spattering of C-5s. A number of Navy 737s and what looked like an Air Force 757 (I forget what the military designators are for those two) and lots and lots of P3s. I thought I spotted a couple of harriers but the F-22s were hiding in their revetments. Damn them jet jockies 😉
We landed on to the 26L/08R series and had a breif taxi off the active. As soon as we were down my phone was out and linked in as I was being met on the ground by Hawaiian staff to get some empty cabin shots of one of their 330s before my flight to Auckland. So making sure that I could get that handled before I stepped off the aircraft (though being at the back of the plane meant I would be around for a while).
As we taxiied towards our parking spot which was announced to be at the Interisland Terminal, there was plenty of purple & white around with Hawaiian obviously dominating out here (most obvious sentence ever). There was plenty of the Asian carriers in attendance as well, with a whole multitude of JAL 767s on the deck, a China Airlines 747 in a special livery (not sure which one) and a few Korean A330s as well.
Pulling up the Interisland terminal finally the chimes went off and everyone was set free. Not that I could go anywhere as it was jam packed the entire plane so I was literally one of the last few off the aircraft. But hey.. the things you do for a window seat right? The flight had gone really well, now it was time to do a little bit of work right?