There is a wonderful ambience about any Hawaiian flight. Maybe it's the warm Aloha greeting I always feel is so genuine upon boarding, or the pre-flight videos of Hula and Hawaiian music, or the food that is familiar to those of us who live in the islands. Whatever it is, I like it and I don't like to think about the possibility that my Hawaiian Airlines would never be available to me .. what a horrible thought!
For several years now I have been fortunate enough to be a Pualani Gold member. Pualani Gold designation is reached each year by flying a particular number of miles or a particular number of segments with Hawaiian. Since travel is a priority with me, I make certain to keep an eye on mileage and reach the number of required miles. The benefits of this designation are certainly worth the effort of monitoring mileage. First to board the plane (after children, elderly, and disabled of course), bonus mileage for every flight purchased, and excellent upgrade benefits. I truly do enjoy the status and benefits of Pualani Gold.
As is typically the case, I flew a lot this year. For 2013 I hopped on several flights for pleasure and a couple for business .. my usual. Not thinking anything might be awry, two weeks ago it occurred to me I might want to check my Pualani status for the coming year. I went online, signed in to Hawaiian's site, and proceeded to the Hawaiian Miles area .. just to make certain I was looking good. The number of miles I needed to qualify was 20,000 ... YIKES !!! - guess who only had a total of 19,882 and no further flights planned for the year. 118 miles short and the only phrase repeatedly coming to my mind was "are you kidding me!".
Wednesday night of this past week I didn't sleep a wink. This is common with me the night before I fly. In fact, the one and only time I can imagine to be slightly unpleasant about the fascinating pursuit of travel is the night before. Tossing and turning, looking at the clock, listening for the alarm, and finally getting out of bed hours before I need to because sleep is simply impossible. My flight was to depart Lihue at 7:30AM Thursday, which had me leaving the house at 5:30. The roads were totally clear that morning .. more quiet than I believe I've ever seen them. The line at PSA was nearly non-existent - another amazing phenomenon. Between the roads being clear, the security line being nearly empty, and the fact I left the house at a time which would allow for major delays, I stood in the terminal at 6:15 looking at a wait of over an hour for the flight to Honolulu. What do you do in a situation like this? Of course you head straight for Starbucks .. you know, to further enhance the already substantial caffeine buzz you got at the house from sucking up on Yuban for the last two hours. That'll keep me calm, cool, and collected .. Yeah!
Mercifully, the time did go by, our boarding proceeded smoothly (first on .. no kids or old folks!) and I got my window seat. The flight from Lihue to Honolulu is quick .. about 35 minutes .. 35 minutes I believe a young lady from Lihue will never forget, as she was bombarded by the pleasant but never ending verbal volley from a heavily caffeinated gentleman sitting next to her in the window seat. Poor girl, I should have gotten her mailing address so I could send a Get Well Soon to her left ear. Shame on me .. I don't know one thing about that young lady, but she knows ALL about how I was flying to Honolulu then turning around and coming straight back to Lihue .. just to get my missing 118 miles. Fascinating story .. just what a seatmate wants to hear on an early morning flight. I'm fairly certain the only time I shut my mouth was to drink the in flight coffee. The term "What a Knucklehead" comes to mind.
Some places are sacred. Chow Mein Express in the Honolulu Interisland Terminal is one of those places. When leaving from or returning to beautiful Hawaii, CME is the "must do" experience, guaranteed to imprint the warm memory of home as I leave the islands .. guaranteed to remind me of what a wonderful place I am fortunate to live in upon my return. On this trip, I enjoyed some fried rice and two pieces of French Bread. Yes, rice for breakfast .. this is Hawaii. As always, the food was ono (good) and the coffee was nice and hot.
True to form, Hawaiian Airlines came to my rescue Thursday morning. My reservation had me sitting in the terminal for nearly 3 hours prior to flying home .. but a kind man at the Hawaiian desk got me on an earlier flight ... after he stopped laughing at my continued story (told to anyone who would listen).
Friday, someone asked where I had been Thursday morning. I smiled and told him the absolute truth:
"What a fantastic day!" I exclaimed, "I drove to the airport and the roads were practically empty. The security line in the terminal only had 2 people in front of me. Those girls at Starbucks were so nice .. did you know they come to work at 4:30 in the morning!?! I got on the plane right away and had the nicest young lady sitting next to me for the flight .. we had a great conversation. I enjoyed a fantastic meal at one of my favorite restaurants in Honolulu, took care of the business I needed to handle, and Hawaiian Airlines got me an early flight home. What a wonderful day!"
I received 500 miles each way for my Thursday excursion. That figure is 882 miles more than I needed for my 2014 Pualani Gold designation. More importantly, I am the beneficiary of yet one more travel memory .. which is truly Golden. Nontheless, I'll be watching the mail for my new card.
from Kauai to Paris ... and all places between
Aloha et Au revoir,
Looking Back - Click Here for a blast from the past!