Everyone knows the worst part of travelling is the check in queue at Sydney Airport, right? If you do not know this you soon will. Regardless of what airline you travel you will find that the queue starts a good 30-45 minutes before check in opens. We got there half an hour before checkin was to open and there was already a full queue of people, some of whom up the front of the queue told us they had been waiting an hour already.
On this end Hawaiian were not organised enough to have the queues set up right in advance and they wanted everyone to move – hells no, nobody was budging from their spot. They had to construct the queues around the waiting people. Most people were in good humour but nobody was happy when Hawaiian staff started telling them they had to move. Not a good plan, guys! Get organised ahead of time.
Checkin opens exactly 3 hours before the flight, and those check in agents are determined, it will not be one minute before that. Even though they are all standing around chatting, trying to work out amongst themselves how to bend all these people to their will and get them to move. Here is a tip on how to get these people to move – check them in!
We had just one tiny bag to check in which weighed 10.7 kilogram (23.58 pounds) for the two of us. We always like to double luggage strap our bags like you see above.
Oddly for a flight of Aussies going to HNL a lot of people had mad amounts of luggage. Speaking to people in the queue and I was all – you guys have way too much luggage have you not been before, don’t you know the shopping is amazing and they said they were going on the Celebrity Millenium and sailing back to Sydney which gave them only 4 nights on Oahu. We saw the ship twice during our travels.
We quickly earned the nickname the shopping people, and they got the nickname the cruising people. I tried to convince them they could have travelled light and bought up on Oahu, 4 days is loads of shopping time. Maybe next time, you cruising peoples. 🙂
So after an hour and a half we were finally checked in. The cruising with masses of luggage people took ages – we cruised (lol) up to the counter and were all – we won’t take much of your time now, we only have this one tiny bag, but on the way back we’ll have 4, and I checked the rules on that with the check in agent – it has to be 2 bags of 32kg. It can’t be 3 bags that make up the same weight. This I think is missing a trick on their part, they would do better to allow less heavy but more bags.The weight works out the same, what does it matter how many bags it is in?
Customs and security is always a fast process at Sydney, at least for us. Except I always volunteer to be “vaccuumed” and frisked, etc. I walked up to the guy and said “Will you like to vacuum me” and he literally doubled over laughing, and then said nobody had ever called it that to him before.
I know those guys have a certain amount of people they have to test regularly and I actually enjoy chatting to them while they do it, so I always put my hand up. This time they had a body scan machine as well and hilariously it picked up the metal bling on my top.
Myself and the female security guard had a good laugh about the image that resulted from my scan, which had large areas of bling, but nothing else of interest. I said I might have to pack this top next time and she said not to worry, it was cool. We had a chat about the lack of fashion and bling available with their security uniforms. I told her she could maybe Swarovski it up a little, and she laughed and said her boss might not be a great fan of that idea.
Personally I am a big fan of our Aussie security, customs, and immigration staff. They do a sometimes difficult job with good humour and are always up for a chat and ask where you are off to and what you plan to do while they are vacuuming or frisking you – just do not, whatever you do, make security jokes, because they are not a fan of this and understandably so.
My thoughts on security are generally the more the better and I will over-cooperate and be super friendly and bubbly to the staff because I know many people do not treat them with the respect and friendliness they deserve. It has been my experience that they appreciate this deeply.
On the other hand, I do not want to be left waiting in a long queue for no apparent reason other than for someone to check IDs and boarding passes and there is only one or two people doing that job – which tends to happen in the US (more about that later).
N389HA sitting at the gate waiting to become HA452 on the way to HNL – terrible reflections what a bad photo, I thought we took a lot more but cannot seem to find them at this time..
Through security and off to the gate. I learned my lesson about shopping here once before and bypassed all the shops. We grabbed a quick Maccas snack on the way as we had not had dinner and were not sure what would come to us as a surprise on the plane. The entire Hawaiian crew was sitting right in front of us at the boarding area and their personalities just shone. So different to normal flight crews. I love their Hawaii-an-ness.
Once we got settled, I went to the nearest duty free to grab some pics of the perfume prices because I wanted to know if it was worth buying while there in the US or to grab it on the way back. This is a great concept and I highly recommend it if you can get away with it without one of the staff running up to you trying to sell you masses of stuff. The two I wanted were Thierry Mugler – Angel – and Viktor and Rolf – Spice Bomb.
Unfortunately Spice Bomb is NEVER something you should take as carry on luggage in the USA – the shape is all wrong – it looks like a grenade and if you read the TSA blog that is a major no-no – Leave Your Grenades At Home.
So remember, real or not, if it looks like a grenade or any other type of explosive device, it cannot be packed in your carry-on or checked baggage.
Even things that look like a grenade will shut down security and land you in a not pleasant fun time or place. It should never go in checked lugggage either. Buy it in Australia if you want it, keep it there, use something Hawaiian scented and non-grenade shaped while on Oahu. I personally like the Pineapple Passion by Forever Florals you can find in the ABC stores.
So we sat and waited, took pics which have now vanished entirely, and tried to be the last people to get on the plane. This is not easy to achieve but it gets you on Hawaiian time mode. All those people rushing to be first, who wants to do that? The plane is still going to take off at the same time, what is the rush?
Hawaiian Airlines was not a fan of our plan though because we were right at the back – a deliberate choice on our part – so they checked wheelchair and people who needed assistance, business and first class, then kids etc, then rows 36-46 which we fell into. We were the very last of those people to get on, though.
Unfortunately we were not the last people to get on in our section, a family boarded after everyone else was on board, and probably a 6year old kid sat in the row right ahead of us. He was very well behaved and went to sleep after saying “Oh Maaaaaaaan” in an American accent many times – this became our saying for the trip, whether good or bad, 99% of the time good, it was “Oh Man”.
I am not a believer in reclining, so I said to the people behind us when they looked pissed that we were sitting in front of them – dont worry, we don’t recline. I did not know this at the time but the other half was unhappy I said this, he really wanted to recline! I had thought we were on the same page about being anti-recline. The guy behind me apologised in advance for any seat bumping that might occur. Actually there was not much of that at all, so it worked out good all round.
However no sleep was had by us at least. We watched our tablets for the most part. I had the latest Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, and Homeland plus season 5 of Breaking Bad on there. I got through all my new episodes and two episodes of Breaking Bad before trying to catch a small nap and epically failing. The Walking Dead episode was intense and had me grabbing the other half and trying not to squeal out loud.
Dinner was ok though I am not a big fan of thigh chicken it was ok on this occasion. It seemed weird to be served a Tim Tam on a Hawaiian Airlines flight, dark chocolate covered mac nuts seems more appropriate. I ate the other half’s salad, it was very tasty.
After dinner the cabin lighting was dimmed and I have to say the lighting is pretty funky. Check it out!
Breakfast was pretty woeful, nothing hot at all, a croissant and yoghurt served in a bag. It was so bad I forgot to take photos of it. The flight passed and eventually we arrived in HNL. Sticking with our theme of being last off, we officially were this time.
Normally we fly Jetstar and you arrive at 6:30 in the morning HNL time, you are through immigration in mere moments. Hawaiian arrives sometime between 9 & 10, around the same time as a whole bunch of other flights, many of which are from non-english speaking Asian countries..
We queued for an hour while the poor Immigration staff explained over and over what had to be done – on the scanner place right hand first then right thumb, left hand, left thumb, then a couple of questions, and you are on your way. Might be an idea instead of lovely screens talking about Hawaii in various Asian languages, to put a running here is what you do at the immigration checkpoint in the various languages, I think it would speed things up a lot.
So while waiting in the queue for over an hour to get through customs, one thinks.. where is my luggage right now? You collect it on the other side of immigration. What a nightmare that was as well, 18 zillion people in a tiny space trying to get their bags. I think 3 international flights were on our carousel. I sent the other half into battle while I waited with the carry on bags – I see now why people carry on large bags. This was an absolute zoo.
We said goodbye to the cruising people and wished them an awesome time, and headed off to the interisland terminal where we had an early afternoon flight to Kona. You drop your bag just after customs not to be seen again until Kona. This process was super easy, we must have got to security at the right time because the wait was very short.
I had the worst indigestion and headed to the gift store for Tums. Man oh man, I love Tums. In Australia we have Quickeze which tastes like chalk and is just awful. If you ever suffer from indigestion, you want to try Tums while you are in the US and make sure to bring a bunch home with you, I still have two huge bottles from 2011. They are fruit flavoured and absolutely fantastic and I personally find they work better than Quick-Eze ever has for me.
Not long after arriving in the Inter Island terminal, having decided we did not want to eat anything, we are sitting in the waiting area for Kona with a Starbucks in our hands.
Coming up in the next part of the trip report – Our stay on The Big Island.