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by Ivan K Nishimura
PHOTOS: IVAN K NISHIMURA
Route: Honolulu, Hawai‘i (IATA: HNL/ICAO: PHNL) to Portland, Oregon (PDX/KPDX)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Departure time: 1320
Arrival time: 2135
Passenger: Ivan Nishimura
The check-in process at HNL is conducted in the Interisland Terminal. Hawaiian Air offers web-based ‘Hele On’ check-in up to 90 minutes before departure, as well as computer kiosks to speed up the process. Boarding takes place at the Ewa (west) Concourse (Gates 26 to 34), which can be a brisk 15-minute walk once past the security checkpoints. Flight HA026 was slated to board at Gate 29 at 1250.
During the winter months this is most travellers’ last opportunity to enjoy the year-round warmth of Hawaiian weather. There is an optional shuttle bus to/from the Interisland Terminal that drops you off in front of your gate, but I enjoy the walk and view. HNL’s open-air areas offer unobstructed views of airplanes at their gates, and excellent photo opportunities for those so-interested.
The aircraft parked at Gate 29 was a Boeing 767-300ER (N588HA, named Iwa (Hawaiian for Frigate Bird, in keeping with the airline’s tradition of naming its airplanes after native Hawaiian birds). This particular 767 has the ‘777-style’ interior—which was very clean—giving the cabin a more spacious feel. The cloth upholstery is bluish-purple, matching Hawaiian’s corporate colors.
Seated in 30A, at the trailing edge of the left wing, I had a good view. Boarding was quick, despite the flight being full—over half the passengers were going to a business convention in Portland—and the Hawaiian Air ground staff was quite efficient in getting us out on time.
After a ten-minute taxi, HA026 rotated from Runway 8R (the ‘Reef Runway’) at 1336 and proceeded to fly along the southern O‘ahu coastline, before turning north toward PDX. This 767’s video display did not show any flight information such as altitude, remaining flight time, speed, etc. Hawaiian Air offers digEplayer AVOD (audio-visual on demand) equipment for a nominal fee, for those who may not want to watch the in-flight movie.
Beverage service began about a half-hour into the flight. We each received a packet of mixed pretzels and Japanese rice crackers with our drinks. The meal was served about 30 minutes later. There were three choices: Oriental pot roast atop rice pilaf; pasta Alfredo; or a cold turkey sandwich (with a bag of potato chips). I opted for the pot roast, which was delicious. Both this dish and the pasta came with a tossed salad (with Maui onion-mango dressing), a taro bread roll and butter, and a chocolate chip cookie. As with rival Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian Air’s cuisine is designed by locally renowned chef Sam Choy, who owns and operates restaurants throughout Hawai‘i and in overseas locations too.
A little light turbulence (caused by rain clouds) was felt as we began our trek toward the Oregon coastline, and the flight crew did their best to keep things smooth.
Flight duration, from rotation to touchdown, was 4hr 53min. Although the weather in PDX was wet, the rain had stopped before our touchdown, thus precluding a firm landing. We touched down on Runway 28R at 2132lt, and parked at Gate D11, a very short distance from the runway. The 767 would overnight here—where Delta Air Lines provides ground handling—before departing for HNL at 0845 the next day as Flight HA025.
The counter staff at HNL, and flight and cabin crews of HA026, were all outstanding, exemplifying Hawai‘i’s ‘Aloha Spirit’. Not surprisingly, Hawaiian Air’s quality of product and service, reasonably priced airfares, and unmatched on-time performance, engender loyalty among its passengers, which is borne out by consistently good load factors.
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