Day 1: Flying Hawaiian Airlines Standby – Post-Christmas 2016

28 Dec 2016 – Flight from Sydney to Honolulu

I got back to Sydney from Honolulu 30 Sept 2016 after spending 80+ days in Hawaii and had to get back into super hustle mode to build my Australia businesses, which I found was not as easy as I thought it would be to do while out of the country. I guess being in my home where I was familiar with everything and could set a routine really helped me focus, while staying with my husband in our Honolulu apartment for almost 6 months of the year was filled with all sorts of distractions.

For the following 3 months during my stay in Sydney, I managed to double my monthly income which then paid for our entire holiday to the Philippines, including my brief stops before and after to Honolulu. We originally intended to lease the Honolulu apartment until Jan 2017, however due to circumstances out of our control, my husband Kekai (as he prefers to be called, though I am still fond of “Ryen the Hawaiian”) had to move out just a month after I left and stay with his family. I’m glad we were able to save money on the USD$1200/mth rent, though it meant we had to get a hotel for when I come over before and after our Philippines trip. I could have saved another USD$600 from the return flights to Honolulu and flown straight to Manila from Sydney but we had already booked the Honolulu-Manila flights a while ago and it made better sense for me to escort my husband to his second-ever non-North American destination, especially with the sort of trouble he got during customs while travelling alone to visit me in Australia. He is always profiled and judged because of how he looks and just having me by his side really softens his image and we get less hassled everywhere we go.

So anyway, due to budget constraints, I couldn’t stay with Kekai from Christmas to New Year’s Eve on Oahu where all accommodation was at the highest peak of the year. He was pretty upset that we couldn’t spend Christmas together, our first one as a married couple, but I’m sure it will be the last one we stay apart.

I hung out at check-in for 2 hours

Writing this after the entire trip, I can review the return flights via Hawaiian Airlines which were very similar in how they went. I had never flown on standby before and was very grateful to my brother-in-law for hooking up the tickets. I got to the airport at the standard 3 hours prior to departure time and was told that standby passengers have to come back to the check-in desk an hour before the flight leaves, the same time as the crew arrives. I spent 2 hours twiddling my thumbs and was second on the priority list, scored a seat at the very back of the plane, the ones that are reserved for the crew to take breaks in.

Ok, the waiting wasn’t so bad since I settled into some cafe and plugged in to watch some Netflix or something, but had I known earlier, I wouldn’t have come so early.

I do love my Aussie avo feta smash with my soy chai latte. Thanks Coffee Club!
I do love my Aussie avo feta smash with my soy chai latte. Thanks Coffee Club!

The process was different in Honolulu, where I had to check in and go through security to get to the gate and wait around to see if they’ll have a seat for me on the flight. I was priority 2 again but this flight had 0 seats available. By some miracle, one person decided not to get on the flight that day, and the priority 1 person never showed up. So I got on the plane although I was hoping to stay another night, my brother-in-law generously offering his place for us to stay in case I didn’t get on. I can’t thank him enough.

Pro – Unlimited Entertainment

I do like the 64kg of baggage that come included with the flight though I haven’t worked out the costs comparative to Jetstar, but I’m sure Jetstar is relatively competitive when you include the meal and baggage with Hawaiian Air. The best thing about flying Hawaiian is the unlimited movies and TVs with the seat screens. I can’t sleep on planes so doing a 10-hour Hawaii 5-0 TV marathon helped to pass the time quickly.

Middle seat on Hawaiian Airlines

Con – Bitchy Flight Attendants

The only empty seat was next to me and I was publicly scolded by one rude flight attendant when I moved to that seat to make some space between myself and the girl seated to my right. The air hostess basically glared at me and said out loud for everyone around to hear that I can’t sit there because the seat is for crew and the seats we’re in are usually for the crew but they did us a huge favour by letting us sit there so we can make the flight. So unnecessary. A discreet notice in a lowered tone would have done the same job.

I noticed on both flights I witnessed one very rude female flight attendant each way (different ones) who seemed to hate their job and let their personal issues interfere with how they interact with customers. I flew via Jetstar, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines along with Hawaiian Air within a 6-month period and surprisingly found the worst customer service was with Hawaiian Airlines just because of one or two bitchy hostesses.

Con – Lack of Food

With budget airlines like Jetstar and Cebu Pacific, I am fine with ordering the instant noodles, a meat pie or an egg sandwich. They all tasted great and I was glad to save money on overpriced shitty airplane food.

Hawaiian Air only gives you ONE hot meal without options so it’s the same for everyone (whereas PAL gives you TWO meals with two choices for each plus a decent snack and their flight times are the same length), a packet of pretzels for a snack at the start and a shitty sandwich which is half ham and cheese and the other half is egg.

The flight to Honolulu served some fish dish which was disgusting, I didn’t eat the fish because it was dry and bland, along with beans which aren’t great to serve on a flight where a lot of people would get gassy. The flight to Sydney was much better with its Chicken Teriyaki meal.

On the way back, I was seated to a bunch of vegetarians who couldn’t eat the sandwich and the flight attendants told them they had no alternatives, didn’t even offer them other snacks to compensate and basically weren’t helpful. The egg half of the sandwich was ok but the ham and cheese was disgusting and I threw it after the first bite.

Jetstar / PAL > Hawaiian Air

In terms of value and service, I would go with either Jetstar or PAL in future over Hawaiian Air flying economy. The great thing about standby is that you have the chance to get a free upgrade if there is a seat available, so I would take the gamble during off peak travel periods. My husband was fortunate enough to get offered First Class upgrade on both flights to and from Sydney, though the first flight he couldn’t get on because he was wearing shorts (yes he’s a newbie to flying) but he did get on First Class on the way back to Honolulu but didn’t realise it until he picked up his luggage from baggage claim and his bags came out first with PRIORITY / FIRST CLASS on it.

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