Date: June 29, 2017
Flight No.: N/A
Route: Kahului to Molokai
Airline: Makani Kai Air
Type: Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
The initial plan for my Hawaii trip was to fly on Grand Caravan once – with Mokulele Airlines. However, in the end I decided to try Makani Kai Air as well.
The reason I decided to do so was because they are mainly a helicopter operator, and not a “true airline.” By that, I mean that there is no flight number, no security check, no restrictions on liquids, and so on.
Booking Makani Kai Air Flights
Makani Kai Air operates a number of routes between Oahu and Molokai, and Maui and Molokai. Each of the routes is operated several times a day. Interestingly, the airline has a fixed price structure – all of its flights are $50 regardless of when you book. Or, as they put it on many of their banners – “every seat, every day, every flight.”
While the load on my flight was fairly light, and so I guess in many cases it’s possible to book the flight on the spot, I booked mine online. Makani Kai Air’s website is very simple, if not a bit dated, but it works perfectly fine and within seconds of booking, I had the confirmation in my inbox. …and so, all that was left to do was to wait for the day of departure.
Checking-in at the Kahului Airport Commuter Terminal
After arriving in Kahului onboard Island Air’s Q400, I had a couple of hours before taking the Makani Kai Air. As such, I went to a nearby beach for a while before heading to the commuter terminal where the airline operates from.
This terminal is a small building with a couple of counters and a direct apron access. It is located just a 5-minute walk from the main terminal. For comparison, in Honolulu, Makani Kai Air flights depart from its FBO which about a 20-minute walk away from the main terminal.
As it was still more than an hour before the flight, I just sat there, watching the Grand Caravans come and go and people get on and off them. In many cases with baseball bats attached to their carry-on backpacks. Try that on United…
Anyways, given that my flight was departing at 10:05AM, around 9:35AM I went to the Makani Kai Air counter.
Not being sure how the check-in process for these kind of flights worked, I approached the lady behind the counter:
“Hi. Do I check-in here?”
“Hi, yeah. What’s your last name?”
“Do you have any bags to check in?”
“No, just my backpack.”
15 seconds. That was it. No boarding pass, nothing – the lady just checked my name off her passenger list, and I was good to go.
Boarding the Makani Kai Air Cessna Grand Caravan
As there is no “airside” at the commuter terminal, once I “checked-in,” I returned back to my seat in the waiting area.
Our flight was a bit delayed, as the Grand Caravan I was supposed to board didn’t arrive until 10:07AM. However, the turnarounds on these flights are extremely short, and so, about five minutes later, we started boarding.
We entered the apron through a door in the waiting room, the check-in staff assigned us a row (no. 3 for me), and we walked over to N129CG – one of the airline’s Grand Caravans.
Flying with Makani Kai Air from Kahului to Molokai
As soon as I and a family of three – the only other passengers – got onboard, the Captain introduced himself and went over the safety instructions.
At 10:22AM, the Captain – and the sole pilot on this flight – started the engine and taxied to runway 5. We had to hold for a couple of minutes at the runway end, but at 10:30AM, we started our take-off roll, shaking to the left and right.
The flight itself was less than 30 minutes long – but throughout the flight it was quite bumpy. And while there was, obviously, no in-flight service, the views offered along the way were great.
Not only could we look to the left and to the right through the passenger windows, but even to the front given that there is no separation between the cockpit and the passenger cabin. Also, just for information, the aircraft features one row in a “1-2” and three rows in a “1-1” configuration.
Arriving at Molokai Airport
We landed on runway 5 at Molokai airport – after a rather sharp descent – at 10:55AM. Just twenty-five minutes after taking off from Kahului.
Once we vacated the runway, we parked on the small apron. After shutting down the engine, the Captain got off the aircraft first to open the door for us, and then he escorted us to the small terminal.
While doing so, he asked me where I was from. After telling him I’m originally from Slovakia, he mentioned that he used to live in Europe (Sweden, Spain, etc.) for about 12 years as well.
When we reached the terminal, I bid him a farewell and tried to look for a place where I could grab some photos before taking my flight back to Kahului.
More about that in the next instalment, though!