Your editors have been flying around and to and from Hawaii a lot lately. And it’s nice to see that, in a way, things are similar to before Covid. But on the other hand, things couldn’t be less like before, and to say it is frustrating is an understatement. Two BOH editors took four flights in the past two days, and here’s what comes to mind.
Flight delays are exasperating on interisland flights.
With the most recent flight being the most irritating, editor Jeff flew between Kauai and Honolulu yesterday. Easy right? Well, in a word, no.
First, to attend a Honolulu event, he decided to fly nearly 4 hours earlier than he would usually have. Why? Because it is almost impossible to rely on interisland flights for punctuality any longer for various reasons, including the ongoing DOT runway outage at HNL that will continue into next year. Case in point, there were in total 105 flight delays at Honolulu yesterday, of which Hawaiian suffered 87.
The issues at Lihue Airport.
Heading out to Honolulu, things went reasonably well. The major issue was that the Southwest flight to Honolulu was using gate 10A, which means there is no boarding gate at Lihue. Passengers are escorted down a flight of interior stairs to the ground. Then walk to the boarding ramp for the aircraft. We had the same gate on a recent Alaska Airlines flight.
As a side note, the condition and appearance of Lihue Airport is embarrassing. We skipped photos in the antiquated, rusty restrooms. But it is simply a ridiculous situation for a state where tourism is the only real economic driver, and this is what visitors see on arrival. Don’t get us started on where did the resident and visitor taxes go if not to this and the roads.
On yesterday’s Southwest flight to Honolulu, perhaps a half-dozen wheelchair passengers needed to board first. In third-world Lihue Kauai’s airport, only a tiny old elevator is available to take those passengers to the ground level. That means only one wheelchair passenger at a time can be in the elevator. About a 10+ minute delay resulted from waiting for the slow elevator to get those passengers to the ground. Had it not been for that, oh well, you get the point.
Even in spite of the elevator-induced delay, the flight left promptly and landed on time in Honolulu. There was a slight delay waiting for a gate agent to help open the aircraft door. The Southwest purser-acting FA told jokes on the way to the gate, and when he discovered a further delay, he continued to tell more jokes. All-in-all, it was a nice touch.
Return from Honolulu to Lihue.
It’s worth noting that Honolulu Airport is still in the midst of renovation. Some parts are better than others, and for us, the middle terminal where Delta and Southwest depart has the most modern and fun appearance, with more things to do and see. The only issue even there is that there are no good food options, largely because the state’s selected food vendor does an awful job. We also recently reported on the new Hawaiian terminal and its shortcomings. The interisland terminal, too, has nearly no vendors open past 5 PM. It was shuttered at 7:30 pm when editor Jeff arrived. Because he’d just been there recently, he came prepared with food, and it wasn’t an issue. Also, note that there are no restrooms in a significant section (B gates) of the area where Hawaiian’s interisland flights arrive and depart.
Back to the flight. On the return from Honolulu to Lihue, editor Jeff’s Hawaiian Airlines flight was delayed (no surprise). That story has become a broken record. Not only that, but the Hawaiian Air app and the flight display boards at HNL continued to show that the flight was on time, whereas in actuality, it was 45 minutes late. The only clue came when Jeff used FlightAware and tracked the inbound flight, which was also about 45 minutes late. It would have been great to have known that in advance. Fail.
More minor issues on the flight included the plane not being able to approach the gate for unknown reasons when it arrived late. Plus, a catering truck got stuck between the baggage trolleys and the plane’s cargo ramp.
On checking FlightAware, there were 87 Hawaiian Airlines flight delays at HNL yesterday. It was just not a happy affair, for either the employees or the customers. The lead photo in today’s post shows one of the HA service desks at nearly 9 PM last night. The line was long, and the employees looked even more unhappy than the customers. On this last flight of the day to Lihue, all seats were taken, and it was announced at boarding that those still wanting to travel but who didn’t have seats would not be going to Kauai last night. Did they sleep in the airport or what?
Once on the plane, Jeff noticed one of the flight attendants was repeatedly checking her watch. In his mind, she, too, was frustrated about getting home so late.
Again, this might not seem like much in terms of a delay to you, but for us in Hawaii, airline employees and passengers alike, this is like a city bus running 45 minutes late.