Flight Review: Makani Kai Air Cessna Grand Caravan from Kahului to Molokai

Flight Report: Makani Kai Air Grand Caravan from Kahului to Molokai

Flight Information
: June 29, 2017
Flight No.: N/A
Route: Kahului to Molokai
Airline: Makani Kai Air
Type: Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
Registration: N129CG

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.

Kanaha Beach Park

Kanaha Beach Park.

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.

Kahului Airport Commuter Terminal

Kahului Airport Commuter Terminal.
Kahului Airport Commuter Terminal Counters

The Commuter Terminal is open air.
Kahului Airport Commuter Terminal Waiting Area

A simple waiting area.

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…

Kahului Airport Commuter Apron

The commuter apron – a Grand Caravan of each of the two airlines using the terminal.

Anyways, given that my flight was departing at 10:05AM, around 9:35AM I went to the Makani Kai Air counter.

Makani Kai Air Check-In Counter

“$50 Between Maui and Molokai. Every seat, every flight, every day.”

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.”


“Ok. Thanks.”

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.

Makani Kai Air Grand Caravan After Arrival

Passengers getting off the inbound flight.
Boarding the Makani Kai Air Flight

Ready to board.
Walking to the Aircraft

Walking to the aircraft.

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.

Boarding Makani Kai Air Flight to Molokai

Getting onboard while the aircraft was being refueled.

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.

Mokulele Airlines Cessna Grand Caravan

Second in line for take-off.
Lining Up on Runway

Lining up on runway 05.
Kahului Airport After Take-Off

View of Kahului airport shortly after take off.

Beautiful scenery of Maui.

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.


The inter-island flights offered views of some of the most amazing sceneries I’ve seen.

Approaching Molokai.

Lush green.

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.

Makani Kai Air Cessna Grand Caravan Cabin

Makani Kai Air Cessna Grand Caravan cabin overview.

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.

Descending into Molokai

Turning to line up with Molokai’s runway.
Makani Kai Air Cessna Grand Caravan Cockpit

Seconds before landing.

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.


Fairly comfortable leather seats.
Makani Kai Air at Molokai

The Grand Caravan in Molokai.

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!

2 thoughts on “Flight Review: Makani Kai Air Cessna Grand Caravan from Kahului to Molokai”

  1. P.J. O'Reilley (808) 779-3305

    Hi Keishi,

    Very nice report and your pictures are stunning. Good job, very complete. I appreciated your comments about Makani Kai Air…I work for them and have to say that our airline is doing pretty well. In the year plus since you posted this, we have overtaken our competitor, Mokulele Airlines, and are now the #1 airline serving Molokai (in total number of passengers). I believe our flat $50 airfare may have a lot to do with this…folks don’t have to guess what the airfare will be.

    Anyway, thanks again for flying with us. If you ever return to Hawaii, I would like to meet you.



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