Tier Point Run to Hawaii in Nov 2021: Day 3 – Los Angeles LAX to Honolulu HNL
Into the AA lounge and I found that the Flagship Lounge isn’t open right now – so it’s just a standard Admiral’s Club. I scanned my boarding card and up the steps to the Hawaii pre-clear desk, which ended up being a bit of a struggle.
I showed the guy all of my details including my vaccination records and although he acknowledged that Hawaii gov had changed their rules in line with the mainland US, he couldn’t pre-clear me because AA hasn’t updated its own guidelines. I walked into the lounge a tad disgruntled!
I settled into my seat and my name was called over the tannoy. I headed back and lo and behold, AA had read the details of the new Hawaiian vaccination rules and updated their guidance. I was pre-screened and got my wrist band. Wow!
As a result of that simple event, I felt really positive about making the final tiring flight to Honolulu. I know it’s a first world problem, but it does become quite evident that the quality of the flights reduces as you get closer to Paradise! The BA flight in the new club world cabin was really nice; the AA flight on the A321T in business class was ok, but climbing over the person next to you becomes a real bind; the recliner seat on the flight to Hawaii will be a real struggle, but hopefully worth it.
I walked over to TBIT to get a Starbucks and spoke to Vick whilst I was in the queue. My venti caramel macchiato with an extra shot cost about $8.50 (perhaps £6.50?) and I only get 3 shots in the US. Bit of a rip off.
Back to the lounge and I needed to chill a little. Didn’t hang around for very long though – I did my all-terminals wander, so headed up to the very end of T7 (the gates starting with 8) and then headed back through T6, up to T5 and then back to T4.
When I got back into the lounge, I desperately needed some food. Unfortunately, the options were fairly limited, but found something to nibble on. I had passed a Panda Express, but decided I would leave that until Sun in Honolulu in the Ala Moana centre.
In the end, I desperately needed something substantial, so I gave in and walked back to T7 and went to Panda Express. When I ordered, the lady behind the counter said “I love your accent” and “how is the Queen? I hear she is in hospital”. Classics. On the way back I noticed how many outlets/concessions have closed down – shame.
My final flight to Honolulu left from Gate 42A (the same gate that I arrived in from JFK earlier in the day). Boarding was delayed to a problem with the jet bridge, but it didn’t delay the flight from leaving on time. I was sat in 1A which is not the best side to be on when taking off from LAX on your way to Hawaii – there’s very little on the left-hand side to look at, assuming that the aircraft takes off on a westerly runway.
Flight: AA0143 Equip: A321N
Sched Depart: 15:10 Actual: 15:09
Sched Arrival: 19:04 Actual: 19:00
Takeoff: 15:38 Landing: 18:57
I was intending on dozing all of the way, turning down any food, but once on board I felt a little more alive. So, I stuck to water, but accepted the invitation for lunch. I shouldn’t have bothered to be honest. AA really hasn’t put much effort into the Hawaii service: not much of a meal service for first class; the main cabin had no alcohol and no food for sale and the cabin crew attitude is something to be seen. At one point when I wanted to hand back my tray, I was told quite sharply to wait until they collected all trays a little later. I did wonder whether they were doing me a favour
I did manage to get a couple of hours of kipping/dozing and in the end the flight didn’t drag as much as I feared it might. After a truly long haul, that last 6-hour leg is always a bit of a killer.
By the time we were on final approach, the sun had gone down and I was on the wrong side of the plane to get any decent views of anything anyway.
We arrived into Gate C4 and I got myself to the front of the queue to deplane. As soon as I was off, I was expecting a big welcoming party, asking to check pre-clearance wrist bands and other evidence of vaccination, but there wasn’t much to see. There was a decent walk through the terminal building before seeing any signs, then after five mins of walking I came across some barriers and a simple split: pre-clearance wrist bands to the left, everyone else to the right. But there was no one in sight to check any documentation for either group of passengers!
At this point I decided to order an Uber to take me in to Waikiki – I had been holding off due to not knowing how long I might be delayed by the checks – I think I had concluded now that the answer was “not long”. The Uber confirmation indicated just 5 mins to pick up, so I had to jog to get there in time. I just about timed it to perfection – the driver may have waited 60 seconds before I opened the back door to get in.
The air in Honolulu was warm and muggy. It was a nice feeling after a long trip. The weather forecast suggested it was going to rain most of the time I was here, so I was pleased it was at least dry.
It took about 20 mins to get to Hilton Garden Inn in Waikiki. The driver used the freeway rather than the coastal route and unsurprisingly, it was fairly busy. We chatted about covid and the impact on the local economy.
Follow the whole story here: Tier Point Run to Hawaii in Nov 2021