By Joey Gerardi
Trip Report: Interisland with Hawaiian Airlines
Flying within the Hawaiian Islands is one of the easiest and cheapest flights you’ll ever take due to the heavy competition. With many airlines competing on only a handful of routes, flights are usually very frequent and can be above 30-a-day between destinations.
Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, and most recently Southwest Airlines are the three airlines with the most passenger inter-island flights, although a few other smaller companies do exist. Between the three airlines, they operate almost 30-daily nonstops in each direction, 21 of which are on Hawaiian Airlines.
A couple of weeks ago we went over one of those options with Mokulele in a “Unique Connection Series” trip report, this time we will take the more conventional, and the most known option; Hawaiian Airlines. The route does see each aircraft type in their fleet; the Boeing 717, Airbus A321, and occasionally the Airbus A330, but it usually tends to be the workhorse of their fleet, the Boeing 717.
I chose a morning flight option, with the departing flight leaving Kahului at 9:05 A.M. I knew security wouldn’t be terrible as most of the early morning flights had already left, plus I have TSA PreCheck which is always great. I arrived at the airport just an hour before the flight at 8 A.M. and made it through security with no problem.
The airline has a few special gates set aside for their inter-island operations. They have agriculture inspection areas set up in the terminal if you are headed towards any gates besides Hawaiian Airlines’ inter-island ones. Due to this, unfortunately, there weren’t many places to walk around, but this wasn’t that bad as the flight was only an hour away.
It wasn’t long before my aircraft arrived, N476HA, one of the many Boeing 717’s the carrier possesses. This aircraft was named “Elepaio” after a bird species that is only found in the state of Hawaii.
These inter-island operations are very efficient and run like a well-oiled machine. As soon as the last person stepped off the inbound aircraft they began loading my flight.
The interior of this aircraft was simple, but for the short flights they use these aircraft it is perfect. The seats are bright and give off a warm Hawaiian vibe.
Another interesting aspect of the flight is the labels, every sign on the aircraft had the words written in Hawaiian under the English words.
I chose seat 25F for this flight, this would be one of the instances where I should’ve looked at a seat map website before selecting this seat. The row was so far back my view was almost completely obstructed by the engine, and unfortunately, there weren’t any window seats left on my flight so I couldn’t move around.
As I was the last person on, the door was quickly shut and before I had time to even think about it we had begun pushback from the gate. It was a short taxi to the runway and we blasted off for the short flight to Honolulu.
As one might imagine, there was no fancy meal or snack for a short flight like this. Passengers had the option of coffee, water, or juice, the third of which is made right in the Hawaiian Islands.
Having an almost completely covered window, the views I experienced weren’t the easiest to obtain but I still had some stuff to see out of the window. We passed by the island of Moloka’i, where I had completed my unique connection series just days before.
Before I had even realized it, we began our descent into Honolulu. It was not a very long flight, and I spent the remaining time looking out at the view I did have.
As we got closer to O’ahu, Honolulu came into view and so did more wonderful scenery. As you can tell I mention the scenery a lot, and for a good reason, as the scenery is one of the biggest draws for those visiting the islands and I didn’t want to miss a single second of it.
For this same reason, there is no inflight entertainment on the airlines Boeing 717’s, and why would there be when you can spend the time looking out at the ocean and the islands. Even if you don’t get a window, the longest interisland flight they operate has just over 40-minutes of total flight time so you won’t have much time to be bored.
we approached the airport from the southwest and made a hard right bank on approach. This is something I don’t experience often, but I have been told that this is a common occurrence for flights into Honolulu, especially the interisland ones.
We landed at Hawaii’s busiest airport making the total flight time only 22 minutes. A very short flight, making the total flight time just about the same time as it took to board the aircraft. I can only imagine that boarding the Airbus A321s and A330s for this route can take as much as double or three times the actual flight time just to board the aircraft.
While the flight isn’t long, it certainly was fun getting to experience the interisland transportation system and the staple of Hawaiian’s interisland operations, the Boeing 717, and just how efficient it truly is.
A video account of this trip can be found below.