April 23, 2006
I woke up around 8-8:30 with plenty of time to spare as my flight from EWR-HNL did not leave until 1:30pm. My suitcase was already packed so I showered and shaved. Then I sat around for several hours. This is why I dislike afternoon flights. I much prefer to get up and get going! At 11:00am my two friends arrived at my house. We loaded our luggage into my car and we were on our way to Newark Liberty International Aiport.
We had to circumnavigate our usual route because the Rt 23 South to Rt 46 West exchange in under major construction. After using RT 80, and Rt 46 we were finally on approach to EWR via Rt 21. Drop off at the curb was quick and soon enough my friends and I were headed inside.
We were flying on Continental Airlines this afternoon. Check in was extremely fast as we used the kiosks. TSA then took our bags and we were off to our gate. Departure this afternoon would be from the “new” international gateway via gate 26. As we walked through Newark Airports Terminal C, the usual view was being played out. Continental Airlines is the sole user of this terminal Continental Express ERJs taxied in and out of gates as mainline 737 “Classics”, 737NGs, 757s, 767s and 777s moved about also. Within the last several months, Continental has put winglets on their 757-200s. It definitely puts a new look on an old favorite. To the best of my knowledge, the wingleted 757s are used across the pond to European destinations not requiring wide body service.
My friends and I arrived at Gate 26 which was empty. My friend asked me if there was anyway we would be flying on a 777-200ER that afternoon. I said the probability was extremely rare as the route to HNL is operated by the 767-400ER and CO has quite a few of them. I went to use the facilities and while there heard that Continental Flight 15 from EWR-HNL was changing departure gates from 26 to 21. My mind went into high gear as we had just passed Gate 21 and at it had been a sparkling 777-200ER! I didn’t think that there would be an equipment change from the stated 767-400ER but one never knows!!! I found my friends and informed them of the gate change. Neither one of them had heard it which figures. At Gate 21 sat the same 777-200ER. I was starting to believe in equipment changes after all! There were no other passengers around and the 777 was just sitting there. The reason for that was the 777-200ER (N79011) was just being pushed back. I’m not quite sure where she was headed that afternoon, but it wasn’t Honolulu.
Out on the ramp, I could see a CO 767-400ER at a holding point. As soon as the 777-200ER was pushed back from the gate, the 767 taxied in. Our ride for the afternoon/evening flight to HNL would be Continental’s 767-400ER (N68061).
Flight: CO 15 EWR-HNL
Equipment: 767-400ER *N68061*
Dep Time: 1:30pm
Arri Time: 6:05pm
Photo © Michael Nikel
After grabbing a quick bite to eat, my group and I sat down to await boarding call. The call to board came after 2:00 and almost 45 minutes late, on top of this the call could not be heard. If other passengers hadn’t noticed the gate agent allowing people on, we could have missed our flight. As I walked to the gate agent, I passed the ticket counter and informed to two Continental employees that the call to board had not been heard by two thirds of the passengers. They didn’t seem to care because their answer was, “We are boarding over there.” This is the first time in several years that I can honestly say that Continental personnel were unprofessional. They were either unaware or didn’t care that the speaker system was not loud enough for everyone to hear. Gate 21 is not a small gate area and just opening the door and taking tickets is no way to board a flight.
Once onboard I found my way to seat 36D. After 20-25 minutes the 767 was pushed back and the engines were started. Flight time to Hawaii would be a brisk 9hrs 45mins. The 767-400ER started forward under her own power and began to the taxi to runway 22R. EWR must have been slow at that point because we never waited in line or had to hold at any area. We taxied directly to 22R and proceeded to make our takeoff run. The flight was full, but within 20-30 seconds the 767 was airborne and making an easterly turn. After a standard Newark departure, we were on the way to Hawaii. Our cruising altitude was suspiciously low at only 30,000ft. This is the first time that I have flown on a Continental 767. Could the aircraft have been too heavy with fuel/pax for a higher altitude? Throughout the entire flight the highest altitude that we flew at was 33,000ft.
45 minutes after departure a round of drinks were served. The standard choices applied but I went with a strong glass of water. Dinner came a short while later but I can not recall what the meal was. It was hot though and it did hit the spot. I have always found that Continental serves good hot meals that are not what I consider to be airline food. What I did start to see from the flight attendants though was a bit puzzling. I have flown on Continental almost exclusively since 1998. I am not heavy flier and normally fly 2-3 times a year. Continental’s service is always great and while there have been late flights etc, I have always understood that these inconveniences come as part of the package. What I did not like on this flight was the attitude of several flight attendants. It seems that they were harried in some unknown way. I’m not sure if they were short staff etc, but they did not pay attention to detail or concerns of passengers. It does not take a lot to please me. I allow for a lot of leeway when dealing with customers. Service personnel are not going to be able to smile and be friendly to each and every person all the time. Two of the male flight attendants though did not act in a friendly manner to the customers and questions/complaints did not seem to be of a big importance.
Our flight continued on and more drink rounds were made along with an additional meal serving. The seats were comfortable and the entertainment system was more than necessary. Several movies etc were available along with video games. I didn’t watch any movies but I did play some blackjack. The women sitting across the aisle from me in 36B did leg stretches and at one point had her leg behind her head. While she wasn’t hurting anyone, there is a time and place for everything. Doing calisthenics in the middle of a long haul flight and putting your legs over your head is inappropriate. Maybe I’m old fashioned and maybe I’m too conservative but sit in your seat, watch the blinking lights and eat your food. Doing semi sexual movements and making certain lower body parts easily seen while doing these exercises is not for the flight from Newark to Honolulu. For the most part the flight was smooth, the majority of flight attendants helpful and 9 hrs 45 mins later we were on final approach to HNL. I’m not sure which runway was used, but on short final, the large military ramp was visible with several C-17s and C-5s in different spots while a lone Evergreen 747-100F was also present. This was extremely difficult for me as I just declined a pilot slot in the USAF. It would have been nice to fly those jets!
On our taxi in, several different airlines and aircraft were visible. United and Northwest were present with several NW 757s and a lone DC-10 on the ramp. A Kalitta 747-200F was on the other side of the airport. United made its presence felt with 767s and 777s.
Overall I give Continental a B for the flight. The call to board was either not loud enough or was not given. The flight was over 45 mins to an hour late in boarding. Two of the flight attendants working our area seemed more ticked off than anything else. Continental though did provide a smooth flight, with a “free” meal and a comfortable seat. Entertainment of several different forms was available including late 20 year old women stretching.
My two friends and I spent two nights in Oahu and departed for Maui during the afternoon of our third day. Oahu was better than we expected and we enjoyed the city atmosphere even though we are all “suburban” fellas. I would recommend staying in Oahu longer than we did. Make sure to go on the Pearl Harbor Tour. If you get a bus driver by the name of Mr. Smith, you are in for a real treat. For $25, you get a tour of Pearl Harbor, several different historical sites and more information that one can process.
Originally we arrived at the Aloha Airlines terminal. I was mistaken though because even though we purchased tickets on Aloha, the flight was actually operated by Island Air. We walked to the inter-island terminal and checked in at the small but efficient desk area. Our luggage was taken and we made our way to the small terminal. Outside of the windows, several Island Air aircraft were sitting on the ramp. The airline is going through a livery transition and one of the newly painted aircraft N542BB was visible. Several flights for a multitude of islands were called as we awaited our flight. Island Air Dash 8s taxied in and out during the 2+ hours we were there. Finally the call to board flight 5558 with service to Kapalua airport was called.
April 25, 2006
Airline: Island Air
Flight: 5558 HNL-JHM
Equipment: DeHavilland Dash 8 *N811WP*
Dep Time: 4:35pm
Arri Time: 5:07pm
Photo © Gabriel Savit
Once we had gotten past the gate agent, we made our way onto the ramp. I always enjoy walking on the ramp and this time was no different. We made our way onboard and I was lucky enough to get a seat on the port side next to the prop. Within 5 minutes, both engines were fired up and we were taxing out. Sitting at the gates were several Hawaiian 717s. I was only able to get one tail number (N475HA). We continued our taxi and as we taxied out, a Hawaiian 767-300ER was being tugged towards the terminal. It was Hawaiian’s 767-300ER N590HA. We held short of the active and waited for another Hawaiian 717 to land and taxi off the active. As N479HA taxied off the active, our Dash 8 taxied on and within a few seconds we were blasting down the runway. We made a right hand turn upon being airborne. Our flight time would be 40+ mins for a flight that covered 84 miles. The Dash was comfortable but well used. I enjoyed the flight immensely because the feeling of being “aloft” is much more prevalent in small aircraft. The flight was not bumpy by any standards by one can definitely feel the ride. Water or a fruit drink was offered and shortly thereafter, the gear was coming down and we were turning final for Kapalua airport or West Maui Airport.
We had a slight cross wind from the left and the landing was firm but smooth with the right landing gear touching down first as should be. Taxi time was a little over a minute and once on the ramp both engines were shut down and de-boarding began. Getting our luggage took a little while because there were only a few ramp workers hauling luggage around. 20 minutes later though we were headed down Highway 30 to pick up our rental car.
To be continued....