Hawaiian Mileage Run: Sakura Lounge HNL

TRIP INDEX

We just cleared security with TSA PreCheck and it was beautiful. Anything to save time in the Honolulu Airport’s open air terminal on this humid day is a life saver before a long flight.

For more on PreCheck, head here. Bottom line: get it!

We walked towards the Kona Brewing company and took the elevator upstairs to JAL’s Sakura Lounge. American, along with several other oneworld members, uses this lounge. I believe they used to have their own lounge, but decided to move in with JAL in 2011.

The lounge is adequate. A few snacks. Two different kinds of soup. Plenty of seating. PLENTY of power outlets. The air conditioning is ice cold, which is top priority for me.

What they don’t have, which the old Admiral’s Club did have, is a shower. I don’t know how you can have a lounge in a ‘tropical’ climate like Hawaii and not offer a shower in your lounge, especially with all the late day departures. This is just me complaining because of a long day out in the sun, needing another shower!

It looks like our upgrades won’t clear which, without any AA status, has us seated in the very last row of coach for this longhaul. Oh well, at least we’re on the outside of the 2-3-2 seating in the back of this bird.

Time to fill up on more ice cold water and then head to the gate, hoping for a miracle!

IMG_2558 IMG_2557 IMG_2556 IMG_2555 IMG_2554 IMG_2553 IMG_2552 IMG_2551 IMG_2550 IMG_2549

Hawaii Mileage Run: Wyndham Waikiki Beachwalk

TRIP INDEX

After braving the 7 miles of traffic to Waikiki in about 30 minutes, we made it to our hotel, the Wyndham Waikiki Beachwalk right in the heart of downtown.

Background as to why we’re staying here. My parents are Wyndham Vacation Resorts timeshare owners (bleh). They try to travel different places to use their points every year but sometimes they need help. So we stepped up and took the hit ;).

I originally booked a stay at the Hyatt Place Waikiki, but after checking my parents’ point balance, I decided to help them burn a little more.

This would be our third or fourth time staying here so we were used to the check-in process. Drive around the block to the entrance of the parking deck and have the car valeted. Head one level up to the front desk.

Check in was easy and the front desk agent was really friendly. I think we got mistaken for locals, which happens often here when you’re Filipino. I wish we were locals!

After checking in came the worst part of staying at a timeshare: the welcome pitch. The Welcome Desk gave us a welcome amenity kit and explained that we could do the timeshare presentation for a gift of $150. Tempting.

We’ve done them before and it’s easy enough to say no, but is it worth our time? With only 3 days on Oahu, probably not.

Location

For the most part, I view the location of the Beachwalk as a net positive. Yes, it is in the heart of Waikiki. That means it’s very busy and can get very noisy. We got lucky this time and even though we have a 2nd floor room, it’s not that noisy when we go to sleep. Not as busy here as it was the last time we visited in September.

Wyndham View From Our Balcony

View From Our Balcony

The beach is 2 blocks away. There are some great restaurants within walking distance. I’ll probably have a separate post just detailing all the awesome food we’ve eaten on this trip.

Overall, I like this as the home base for our Oahu operation. If you time it right, you can avoid Waikiki traffic. If you feel like hanging around and not driving, there is plenty to see and do within a few blocks.

The Room

We were able to book a 1 Bedroom Deluxe and, because of my parents’ timeshare status, upgrade it to a 2 Bedroom Deluxe for free. Completely unnecessary for just Joann and me, but free is free.

No flashy Park Hyatt suites or fancy welcome amenities waiting in the room. Just a nicely appointed, clean suite. More than adequate for our short stay.

Living Room

Living Room

Full Kitchen

Full Kitchen

I’d say the best part about the room is the full kitchen & dining area. Earlier today, we were able to grab some food from Rainbow Drive-In and bring it back to the room to eat.

It’s nice to keep the food smell out of your sleeping area and the kitchen has a microwave that will come in handy when I reheat this leftover chili!

Rainbow Drive In Chili & Loco Moco Plate Lunch

Rainbow Drive In Chili & Loco Moco Plate Lunch

Hawaii Mileage Run: National Car Rental

TRIP INDEX

Aloha When Departing & Arriving

Aloha When Departing & Arriving

Luckily, right when we walked out of baggage claim, the National shuttle bus was picking up another passenger. We hopped on.

The driver radioed ahead that we were Executive status, but I don’t think that does much at the HNL location. There’s no “real” Emerald or Executive Aisle where you can just go straight to any car and the keys are in the car. This lot is shared by a few rental companies and is unsecured so we still had to visit the booth.

The booth agent informed me that I could choose any Economy car because that’s the car class that I reserved. Booking a Mid-Size is a requirement of receiving aisle selection. I knew that going in and just wanted to reserve the cheapest rental possible while also getting credit for National’s One Two FREE promotion.

The only Economy cars that were available were Impalas so we told them to give us anything. Nothing spectacular at all. Actually, I think it’s a piece of crap. I even wish we could have gotten a VW Jetta like last time. Oh well, it’ll do.

Another note for the HNL location, you won’t see Wranglers or sports cars/convertibles in the Emerald or Executive Aisles. It’s Hawaii; people reserve these “vacation” cars and you will almost never come across one to choose for free.

Our first stop, as per tradition, is the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue right outside Honolulu Airport. It’s the perfect location if you ever have a layover at HNL or you need to eat before or after a flight. Very very close in the Airport Trade Center at Paiea St. & Koapaka.

It was a great pick me up after a long flight – chicken katsu curry & loco moco plate lunches!

L & L

L & L – I’ve never met a curry that photo’d well!

After fueling up, it was onto Waikiki-bound traffic and our hotel…

Hawaii Mileage Run: American Airlines First Class DFW-HNL

TRIP INDEX

DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) – HNL (Honolulu)
AA 5
9/11/13
Depart (Scheduled/Actual): 1:00p/1:16p
Arrive (Scheduled/Actual): 4:00p/4:22p
First Class
Boeing 767-300
Seats 4A, 4B

Upon landing early in DFW and taking the Skylink train to Terminal A, Joann and I hit Starbucks and then the Admiral’s Club. We only had about 30 minutes before boarding would start for our flight to Oahu.

After getting on the free wifi and sending out the previous two posts, we went to Gate A24 which was right next to the Club. There was a delay in boarding; the gate agents kept calling up passengers for “recheck.”

After about 20 minutes, the gate agents finally started boarding and we were among the first to board in the front cabin.

I was happy to enter and see American’s 763 First/Business cabin with angled lie-flat seats.

As we go settled in, a flight attendant immediately greeted us with a tray of water, orange juice, and sparkling wine. We opted for the sparkling wine and continued to explore our seats that were in a 2-2-2 arrangement across the cabin.

Once we leveled off after takeoff, FAs once again came around but with Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 and Bose QuietComfort15 noise-cancelling headsets. Since these old birds don’t have personal IFE, American distributes these instead. They weren’t bad; they had a decent selection.

galaxy-tablet-bose-qc15

Once they were fully distributed, the FAs went back to the galley and came out with tablecloths and the drink cart. Saddened to see no single malt scotch option on the menu, I just ordered a Jack & Diet. They also served us the hot Hawaiian mixed nuts. They were really really good and I finished them in no time! The candied ones were definitely the best.

american airlines first class warm nuts

The service was a bit slower than what I’ve experienced in premium cabins. The starter salads took a while to come out, but I had The Hangover 3 on the Galaxy Tablet so it wasn’t a concern just yet.

The FAs came around once more to collect the ramekins and top off drinks. Meanwhile, it had been about 15 minutes and the service was at a halt.

Some 30 minutes after we had received our drinks and hot nuts, the salad course was served with a choice of either Caesar or Ginger Sesame dressing. We both opted for the Caesar. A nice touch was that salad was dressed at the cart and then served to us along with Hawaiian sweet rolls.

american airlines first class salad

Then came the main course. Most people in the cabin opted for the Macadamia Nut Chicken. It was satisfactory. The breading sure had trouble staying attached to the chicken breast.

american airlines first class hawaii macadamia nut chicken

After another 30 minutes, the cheese plate followed and then came the highlight of the meal. The ice cream sundae with all the toppings was awesome. It went well with the Bailey’s with milk on the rocks. Ice cream is definitely impossible to mess up 35,000 feet up.

american airlines first class hawaii cheese plate

Once the meal service was over and our tray tables were cleaned, it was just time for movies and sleep.

Overall, the food quality was OK but the service was painfully slow. I was falling asleep waiting for the dessert courses. I probably should have just slept, but I wanted that ice cream!

american airlines first class hawaii ice cream sundae

Ice Cream Sundae w/ Chocolate Sauce, Strawberries, & nuts and Bailey’s w/ Milk

Finally it was time to sleep! For sleeping, the seat was serviceable. It wasn’t the best but surely suitable for a few hours of shuteye. It went flat but angled downwards. I figured that this probably wouldn’t be a great seat for side sleepers. Maybe my opinion would be different if we were on a red eye where more sleep is desired, but for going west, it worked for an afternoon nap.

American Airlines 763 First Class Seat

I slept about 2 hours. It would have been longer but even with earplugs the cabin was really noisy. Those elderly vacationers can really chat!

We were only a few hours out now so I fired up the Galaxy Tablet and got another drink from the FA. When we were about 45 minutes out, the FAs came by to start collecting the IFE setups.

We were treated to some beautiful views on arrival as usual when flying into HNL – Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, and our wedding site in Ko Olina.

Ko Olina

Ko Olina

After a smooth landing, it was off through the partial open air terminal and to National Car Rental to pick up our ride for the 3 days…

Hawaii Mileage Run: American Airlines First Class LGA-DFW

TRIP INDEX

LGA-DFW
AA1121
9/11/13Depart (Scheduled/Actual): 9:10a/9:01a
Arrive (Scheduled/Actual): 12:05p/11:34a
First Class
Boeing 737-800
Seats 5E, 5F

We got up bright and early this morning at 6am to drive from our house in North Jersey to La Guardia. At best, it would be a 35 minute drive, but with the morning NYC commute, you never know.

Also, I know another reason people hate flying out of LGA. The parking options are terribly expensive! Newark & JFK have much more space and companies can offer competitive rates. They even offer plenty of Groupon-type deals to cut the cost even more. At LGA, the best rate I saw was about $20 a day. Oh well, a necessary evil since we couldn’t snag a ride.

After parking at the lot and taking a quick shuttle to Terminal B, Joann and I went straight to Concourse D security which was fairly busy.

Since we were flying First, we were able to use the Priority AAccess lane. When the TSA agent scanned our mobile boarding passes, he explained that we both got PreCheck! I was pretty happy since it would be our first time using it. No shoes off, everything remains in our bags. This was the life! Err, this is what traveling USED to be… a stark reminder of what has happened since 12 years ago TODAY.

Once through security, we made a beeline to the Admiral’s Club and presented our American Express Platinum Card for entry.

We got some lattes and some stale pastries to snack on before having breakfast on the flight. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to gain entry to this Admiral’s Club, but since it’s one of the great perks of the AmEx Platinum, might as well use it.

After finishing up, we walked to our gate about 10 minutes prior to boarding time. Of course, there were plenty of gate lice crowding the gate with no indication that boarding was starting. Eventually, the gate agents started boarding with First Class passengers so Joann and I weaved our way through the crowd.

On this 737, our seats were 5E & 5F on the right side of the plane. As we sat down, the flight attendant welcomed us aboard and asked if we wanted anything to drink. She had a tray of water & orange juice with her.

Boarding finished up quickly and we were ahead of schedule, it seemed – a much different experience from when we fly United.

The captain announced a flight time of around 3 hours, about 45 minutes shorter than the scheduled time. I was happy to hear that since we already had a short connection in DFW to our flight to Honolulu.

Shortly after takeoff, the flight attendant came around taking orders. I was interested in how the the online pre-ordering of our meals would go.

She did confirm that we used the pre-order, but confirmed the wrong order. No big deal as she said it wasn’t a problem to change the order. We’ll see how the longhaul to Hawaii goes.

The Soy Bacon Quiche Lorraine was pretty good as far as airplane food goes. The FA also came by with a bread basket with biscuits or muffins. I had a biscuit and it was surprisingly light and fluffy.

Soy Bacon Quiche Lorraine

Soy Bacon Quiche Lorraine

After I finished breakfast, the FAs were quick to remove my tray which was nice because I wanted to get back to writing this trip report. I asked for a cup of black coffee and it was brought to me right away. Pretty good coffee; another big difference from the coffee on United, which I find unbearable most of the time.

I spent the rest of the flight writing this report while Joann watched movies on her Nexus 7. The in-flight entertainment on this plane was old dropdown overhead screens so watching on our personal tablets is much better.

Landing was uneventful, but we did make it to the gate 41 minutes early, just as advertised. Now we are relaxing in the Admiral’s Club waiting for our flight to Honolulu to board.

Overall, this was a great flight and a perfect start to the long trip. The flight attendants were friendly and attentive. We had a hearty breakfast which was important because we wouldn’t have enough time on the ground at DFW to grab food. I’m pleased with American Air so far and kind of wonder why I haven’t flown them in several years. I hope the next flight is just as good as this one was.