The penultimate post! Megan and I return from our recent engagement in Maui. If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Hawaii, feel free to ask for more details and ideas.
- The Plan
- Outbound: SEA-SFO-OGG in United First Class
- Day 1: Check-in at the Hyatt Regency Maui
- Day 2: Visiting Old Lahaina
- Day 3: Proposal at Haleakala!
- Day 4: Road Trip around West Maui
- Day 5: Snorkeling at Molokini & the Drums of the Pacific Luau
- Return: OGG-SFO-SEA in United Economy Plus
- Turning a Proposal into a Miles and Points Bonanza!
On our final day in Maui, we decided to take it easy. We slept in as best we could before enjoying a leisurely breakfast and taking a final walk along the beach. I’ll do a separate review of the hotel and its dining options later, but suffice it to say we were very sad to leave not just Maui but the Hyatt Regency in particular. Check-out was a breeze, and there were no irregularities with our bill. It was very busy, though, since most people’s flights to the west coast leave in the early afternoon.
Upon arrival at Kahului we were told to show up at the airport early because of long lines at security. I understood the need to leave time for traffic (it took us an hour given the road construction delays and the zoo around Kahului). However, I foolishly assumed there was an elite security line. So did everyone else…
The line snaked back and forth like an amusement park ride, and we got to the gate only a few minutes before boarding began. That was another zoo. The gate agent was giving directions in a fairly inaudible voice without using a PA system. Once people did begin boarding, the order was not enforced, and there were plenty of zone 4 people trying to get on with first class. After a few minutes without any sign of further announcements for subsequent groups, we joined the fracas.
Our upgrades did not clear, which was disappointing as I saw this as my first real test of my new 1K status. I thought upgrades on flights to Hawaii were supposed to be relatively easy from the west coast! I also wanted an ice cream sundae. But we still had decent seats by ourselves in Economy Plus since the aisle seats are arranged in pairs and had more than ample legroom. Compared to the domestic-style first class seats on the “ghetto bird,” the only thing missing was free food.
…And better service. The flight attendants on this trip were among the worst I’ve ever encountered. The in-flight PA system was not working in Economy Plus, so we never heard what the food options were. When I started asking questions, the FA replied in a very sarcastic tone, quote:
Maybe I should come back when you’ve had more time to think. There was already an announcement that there would be no hot food. I understand… you customers are busy and don’t always want to listen to what we have to say.
Really?! How much worse can you get besides calling passengers names? There was one flight attendant working the other aisle whom I could overhear being polite and just answering questions. Lots of other passengers had the same question I did, so clearly I was not the only one who didn’t hear it.
Later in flight, I wanted to redeem some drink coupons, but there was apparently only going to be one drink service on that flight. I flagged down the third flight attendant and asked for two mai tais. Not sure if there were any even stocked on this flight (again, really?) she said she’d check but never came back. Ten minutes later I tried using my call button to get someone else to help. The button no American flyer uses unless absolutely necessary. After another five minutes of waiting, I just headed back to the galley myself. Sure, they were apologetic, but all they were doing back there was chatting and reading magazines. I shudder to think that these are the people who are there “primarily for my safety”–the standard excuse for why U.S. domestic service is so awful compared to foreign carriers.
Whatever. I calmed down eventually and got on with the fleeting moments of my vacation. Our landing was fine, we made our connection, the bags came off close to first in SEA (I hate it when priority-tagged bags are last…), and overall there were no serious problems. But I see why United customers, particularly elite customers, complain about these flights to and from Hawaii. I would have been much happier with an elite security line and some decent customer service in the air, upgrade or not, and those seem like such simple policies. Instead I got the sense that United doesn’t care. I try not to let one flight spoil my whole impression, but I’ve still toned down my evangelism somewhat since this trip.
Anyway, check back tomorrow for my final post in this series where I outline how many miles and points I earned–almost enough to pay for the honeymoon! The Chase Sapphire Preferred card was a big part of it. Also consider the Hyatt Visa if you’re considering the Hyatt Regency Maui (or the new Andaz Maui) or the United MileagePlus Explorer and United MileagePlus Club cards if you’ll be traveling on United.