Your editors have been flying around and to Hawaii a lot lately. And it’s nice to see that, in a way, things are similar to how they were before Covid. But on the other hand, things couldn’t be less like before, and to say it’s frustrating is an understatement. Two BOH editors made four flights in the last two days, and this is what comes to mind.
Flight delays are exasperating on inter-island flights.
Since the most recent flight was the most irritating, Editor Jeff flew between Kauai and Honolulu yesterday. Easy right? Well, in a word, no.
First, to attend an event in Honolulu, he decided to fly almost 4 hours earlier than he normally would have. Because? Because interisland flights are nearly impossible to rely on for punctuality for a number of reasons, including the DOT runway outage at HNL that will continue next year. For example, yesterday there were a total of 105 flight delays in Honolulu, of which Hawaiian suffered 87.
The problems at Lihue airport.
Heading to Honolulu, things went reasonably well. The main problem was that the Southwest flight to Honolulu was using Gate 10A, meaning there is no boarding gate at Lihue. Passengers are escorted down a flight of internal stairs to the ground. Then walk to the plane’s boarding ramp. We had the same gate on a recent Alaska Airlines flight.
As a side note, the state and appearance of the Lihue airport is disgraceful. We skipped photos in the old-fashioned and rusty bathrooms. But it’s simply a ridiculous situation for a state where tourism is the only real economic engine, and that’s what visitors see when they arrive. Don’t get us started on where the resident and visitor taxes went if not to this one and the roads.
On yesterday’s Southwest flight to Honolulu, maybe a half-dozen wheelchair-bound passengers had to board first. At Lihue Kauai’s third-world airport, only a small, ancient elevator is available to take these passengers to ground level. This means that only one wheelchair passenger can be in the lift at a time. A delay of more than 10 minutes was the result of waiting for the slow elevator to bring these passengers to the ground. If it hadn’t been for that, well, you get the idea.
Even with the lift-induced delay, the flight took off quickly and landed on time in Honolulu. There was a slight delay waiting for a gate agent to help open the plane’s door. The FA acting as South West steward told jokes on the way to the gate and when he discovered another delay he proceeded to tell more jokes. All in all, it was a nice touch.
Return from Honolulu to Lihue.
It’s worth noting that the Honolulu airport is still undergoing renovations. Some parts are better than others, and for us, the middle terminal where Delta and Southwest depart has the most modern and fun look, with more things to do and see. The only problem even here is that there are no good food options, largely because the state-selected food vendor does a horrible job. We also recently reported on the new Hawaiian terminal and its shortcomings. The inter-island terminal also has almost no vendors open past 5pm. It closed at 7:30pm when Editor Jeff arrived. Since he had been there recently, he came prepared with food, and it was no problem. Also, note that there are no restrooms in a significant section (Gates B) of the area where interisland flights from Hawaii arrive and depart.
Return to flight On the way back from Honolulu to Lihue, Editor Jeff’s Hawaiian Airlines flight was (unsurprisingly) delayed. That story has become a broken record. Not only that, but the Hawaiian Air app and flight display boards at HNL continued to show that the flight was on time, when in reality it was 45 minutes late. The only clue was when Jeff used FlightAware and tracked the inbound flight, which also arrived about 45 minutes late. It would have been great to have known this in advance. fail
Other minor problems with the flight included the plane not being able to approach the gate for unknown reasons when it arrived late. Also, a catering truck got stuck between the baggage carts and the plane’s loading ramp.
Checking FlightAware, there were 87 delays on Hawaiian Airlines flights to HNL yesterday. It was not a happy affair, neither for the employees nor for the customers. The main photo of today’s post shows one of the HA service desks at almost 9pm last night. The line was long and the employees seemed even more unhappy than the customers. On this last flight of the day to Lihue, every seat was taken, and at boarding it was announced that those who still wanted to travel but did not have a seat would not be going to Kauai last night. Did they sleep at the airport or what?
Once on the plane, Jeff noticed that one of the flight attendants was repeatedly looking at her watch. In her mind, she was also frustrated at getting home so late.
Again, that might not seem like much in terms of delay, but to us in Hawaii, airline employees and passengers, that’s like a city bus running 45 minutes late.
What have you recently experienced in Hawaii at our airports?