Date: June 29, 2017
Flight No.: WP414
Route: Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye to Kahului
Airline: Island Air
Type: Bombardier Dash 8 Q400
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If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Last-Minute Schedule Change Email
Originally, I was supposed to be on a flight departing Honolulu at 6:56AM. However, at 8:57PM the night before, I received an email with an ***IMPORTANT SCHEDULE CHANGE*** subject line.
Opening the email, I realized that my new departure time was 8:16AM. No apology, no notice about the fact that my original flight was cancelled and I was rebooked onto the next available one.
Given that I was taking a Makani Kai Air flight out of Kahului just two hours after my original arrival time, I was not too comfortable with the rebooking. As such, I called Island Air’s call center.
However, it turned out that it closed at 9:00PM – 3 minutes after I received the email – and would not open until 5:00AM.
As such, I went to the airline’s website to look for other options, and managed to rebook myself onto the 6:00AM flight for $25.
While the change fee was refunded without any problems after I emailed the airline, I definitely wish the experience was a bit smoother!
Checking-In at Honolulu Airport Commuter Terminal
Anyways, fast forward to the next morning.
I took the “way-too-early” 4AM shuttle to Honolulu airport. More precisely, to the Commuter Terminal which is used by Mokulele Airlines and Island Air.
When I arrived there a couple of minutes after four, the terminal was still closed and so I took a quick stroll around the terminal area, and then started writing the AirAsia X report. The nice thing is that besides some benches, there are even some power outlets in front of the terminal.
The check-in area opened at 4:30AM, and less than five minutes later, I had a boarding pass in my hand. While checking-in, the friendly check-in staff confirmed that I should email the company and ask for refund.
Since the security check was still closed at that time, I just sat in the terminal listening to Somewhere Over the Rainbow playing through the PA and to the occassional “do not leave your luggage unattended” announcement. The nice thing about that one was that being in Hawaii, it ended with “mahalo for your cooperation.”
Boarding Island Air Flight 468 from Honolulu to Kahului
At 5:00AM, the TSA check-point opened, and in about five minutes, I got airside. I was surprised by the terminal. While with only eight gates – each with direct walking access to the aircraft – it was quite small, it was also quite nice.
There was free wi-fi, a table with the day’s newspapers, as well as a counter with complimentary coffee – although that one was empty, likely because I was on the first flight of the day.
A couple of minutes after I got into the gate area, a gate change from 76 to 74 was announced. Another couple of minutes later, a gate change to 72 followed. No big deal given that all the gates in the terminal are less than one minute away from each other.
The boarding itself commenced at 5:40AM. After getting my boarding pass scanned, I walked through the ramp full of Island Air aircraft to the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 that would take me to Kahului.
As I was about to board, when one of the ramp agents noticed that I was taking quite a few photos of the aircraft, he offered to take a picture for me. Thanks!
Departing Honolulu Onboard an Island Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400
With the picture taken, I entered the aircraft through the built-in stairs. After exchanging greetings with the purser, I headed to my seat – 10A.
When the boarding finished and the aircraft door was closed at 5:54AM, I was surprised at how light the load was. Island Air’s Q400 can seat up to 78 passengers – 14 in “Premium” with slightly better seat pitch, and 64 in “Standard.” However, only 16 of those seats were occupied on my flight.
Just a minute after the door was closed, the engines were started. Then, at 5:57AM we were pushed back, and five minutes later, we started taxiing to the active runway while listening to the squeaky cabin.
We reached runway 8L another ten minutes later, and at 6:08AM we took off.
Island Air’s In-Flight Service
Right after lifting off, one of the two cabin crew members on the flight announced that we should check out the in-flight magazine and even take it home with us. She also announced that a drink service would start soon.
The standard service announcement was followed by something that nicely surprised me. A brief overview of Oahu – the island we departed from. Information such as the area it covers and the fact that it’s the third largest island in the archipelago was presented.
Similar announcement followed about ten minutes later as we were flying past Molokai island.
In the meantime, the drink service was done. The choices were water, fruit punch, or coffee. I went with the “Pass-O-Guave Punch.”
Arriving at Kahului Airport
Not long after the drink service finished, at 6:21AM, the seatbelt sign was switched off and on right away – and we begun our descent.
Just like with Oahu and Molokai, as soon as we reached the island, the crew gave us some basic facts.
At 6:30AM, the landing gear was lowered, and at 6:33AM we touched down at Kahului airport.
Unlike with partly cloudy Honolulu, in Kahului it was pouring rain.
As such, when we reached our parking spot next to gate 9, I got off the aircraft and quickly run into the jetway that we had to walk to given that we arrived on a Q400. Once I was sheltered, I grabbed a quick photo of our aircraft and headed towards the exit.
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No, I am not going to tell you how to fly in first class and sip Dom Perignon for free…But, I am going to introduce you to a couple of ways you can experiment with to try a business class flight without having to spend thousands of dollars.