Flying to Hawaii is unlike flying anywhere else. The flight most similar that I’ve ever been on was the one to Fiji. But flights to Fiji still have a fair number of practical people on them. There are actual Fijians – citizens of a very very remote island nation, who seem a little bummed to be leaving the US to go back into exile. Or they’re business travelers, doing the ho-hum 11-hour flight over, knowing they’ll barely be able to enjoy the islands while they’re there.
But oh, Hawaii. Sure, sure, there are Hawaiian residents (some of them actual Hawaiians!) returning home; and of course there are business travelers. But us vacationers don’t care! We’re psyched to be going to paradise! We’re psyched to get a free Mai Tai on the second half of the flight! There’s also something to be said for knowing that you’re almost all going to the same small island for roughly the same amount of time (the paltry American week-long vacation, if you’re lucky). There are lots of smiles, and a Hukilau-esque camaraderie to the whole thing.
Flying with my kids, my partner, and my mom is amazing. It’s a bit complicated trying to get five people through the airport, fed and watered, but at least the adults outnumber the kids. Someone is always on hand to watch the carry-ons while someone else takes the kids to the bathroom, or to watch the kids while someone runs off to get food or coffee.
On the actual plane, things get interesting. It’s sometimes hard to get five seats together. And even then…who gets to sit next to Mommy? My partner would like to. Both of my kids would also like to. But there are only two seats adjacent to Mommy!
This time around, we had a row of three at the front of the plane, thanks to my status on
which transferred over to Alaska in that heartbreaking acquisition. But Gram booked two of the seats so she could use her free companion fare, and those seats were at the back of the bus.
Thankfully, the kids have iPhones to keep them distracted. They barely noticed when we split them up – one with Gram in the back, and one with Mommy and Glenn in the front. Heck yeah, I took the front! We’re talking extra legroom and free drinks! Can you say Mimosa made with Pass-o-Guava nectar???
Of course, you do have to fill out the form from the State of Hawaii which tells you that if you bring any fruits, nuts, seeds, plants, or basically anything living other than yourselves into their state, you will be sent to Molokai with the lepers. This precipitates the mad rush to eat the Cuties and Cripps Pink apples I packed for snacks, even though I knew full well I was going to buy that “cheese plate” snack box anyway.
Here’s my question – what do they do with the apple core and the mandarin peels? Or what if I don’t even eat the offending foods, and throw them away whole? Aren’t they still arriving on the island like so many wee biological invaders? Isn’t the hypothetical damage done? And what of the almonds in the freebie snack box they passed out? And the Craisins? Sigh. More Mai Tais please!
One final note on flying to Hawaii: five hours is sooooo long! I know us west coasters have it easy, and that some folks fly five hours from New York and then another five hours to Hawaii. But still, five hours is sooooo long when you’re ready to get off the plane in Kona, go to Costco, go to Safeway, and then realize that you’re still in America after all, and life for the next week might not be as exotic as you’d been building it up in your mind for the last three months after all.
Except – in Hawaii, Costco has palettes full of Spam and macadamia nuts, and leis in the fresh flower section. And that can make all the difference in the world.