Saturday, May 15, 2010

When Getting There Is NOT Half The Fun

We arrived in Honolulu safe and sound less than three hours ago.

Most of the details of our trek worked out well, but there's no way to get around the reality of a 5 1/2 hour redeye flight in crowded economy seats. We passed up the opportunity to buy pineapples while we were waiting for the ferry to arrive:

After a bouncy but mercifully brief 30-minute ferry ride we landed at Papeete and asked a shuttle driver where we could find a taxi. He invited us to hop on and after dropping by the airport (nothing open) he took us to the InterContinental Hotel for a total of $10, a very good deal in these islands. Since it was now only a little after 6:00 p.m. and our flight didn't leave until 11:43 p.m., what to do?

We'd been thinking about attending the Tahitian Show that the hotel runs on weekends, basically to use up that long wait between the last ferry of the day and our flight. We learned that the seafood buffet and show combo cost $100 per person. Ouch! We wandered into the bar that overlooked the show and before we knew it the friendly staff invited us to sit at a table overlooking the show. So, for the price of a couple of beers and an appetizer platter, we got to watch the show - lots of wiggling hips and bold dance moves!

We'd arranged for a taxi to the nearby airport at 9:45 p.m. and the friendly lady (5 of our 6 taxi/shuttle drivers were female) drove us there promptly.

We then stood in a check-in line that truly ran on Island Time - 90 minutes of queuing, moving at glacial speed. By the time we'd had our passports inspected by an Immigration official and did the usual beltless and barefoot walk through security, it was just about time to board.

We had the same 16A-B seats on the return as we did on the outbound - somewhat lumpy seats, minimal pitch (distance between seats)making it virtually impossible even to cross our legs when the passengers in front of us reclined their seats - which they did for the entire flight - and if you want IFE (inflight entertainment) you have to pay $5 to rent earphones or $15 to rent a mini-dvd player. We stuck with our iPod again and slept for a couple of hours as best we could. They did hand out blankets on meals, more than some other domstic carriers are doing.

We're not all that impressed with Hawaiian, but that's mainly due to the seats. They did serve a meal on the outbound, and a sandwich and bag of chips on the return. The flight crew kept the seatbelt signs on for virtually the entire smooth flight, so we just ignored it when we needed to stretch our legs.

The flight landed a little early, and we got through Immigration and Customs with no delay, especially since our rollaboards were among the very first pieces appearing on the belt.

We hung around for the Waikiki shuttle. For $15 each for a round trip, less than half the price of a cab, it's worth a few minutes delay.

When we arrived at our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, before 7:00 a.m., the friendly clerk found us a room that was already available. It's actually raining here at the moment, but we've had plenty of sun (maybe a little too much) over the past few days, so we like the overcast.

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