Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Honey, I’m Home (Too Early)!

If you follow me on Facebook, you are familiar with my recent go-and-stop-and-go experience with Vacations Hawaii and Omni Airlines International. It was an adventure.

Pre-boarding of my flight to Las Vegas started with 20 wheelchairs and accompanying family, say 25 more people. Then, those needing extra time, counted 28. Then those with small children. Zero. THEN, first class. That's 73. One-third the aircraft went in before me, who was holding a first-class ticket.
So I get into my seat, strap myself in, and pull the Las Vegas Bound inflight magazine out of the pocket in front of me. It was an old August-October issue, and although I was disgusted that such an old issue was given out in first class, I had a good laugh reading the preview story of the UH Rainbow Warrior football team's 2013 season. It was very optimistic, prompting a huge guffaw because they ended up 1-11. Their season died on the vine amid lots of thorns.
The flight attendant asked for our first class meal preference: steak or teriyaki chicken. I told her steak. And then, everything fell apart.
Here’s the timetable of what happened next (taken directly from my notes … why I started chronicling this, I have no idea, but I’m glad I did):
  • 3:05 pulled away from gate
  • 3:15 took off reef runway
  • 3:20 level off
  • 3:30 turned back because of "minor auto pilot malfunction, not emergency, routine return"
  • 3:45 back at gate
  • 3:50 two mechanics emerge out of trapdoor in the floor
  • 4:20 chat with seat neighbor, she never eats outside the casino she stays in, couldn't convince her
  • 4:50 head attendant announces that if problem not fixed and doors closed by 5:05, flight rescheduled due to FAA regulation requiring so many hours between flights so crew can get adequate rest (similar to my last HNL-LAS flight)
  • 5:05 nothing happening yet
  • 5:15 kicked off plane, walk baggage claim
  • 5:45 bag finally appears on baggage claim carousel
  • 5:50 waiting for wife, notice about 20 oldsters with bags waiting for bus, must be from neighbor islands
The Next Day (Again, my notes)
  • 8:20 a.m. Call Vacations Hawaii, told flight to Vegas is at 4:00 p.m.
  • 1:45 p.m. Arrive at HNL, long line, ag security scanner not working
  • 2:15 p.m. Finally get through check-in
  • 2:45 p.m. Finally get through long security line, no gold line
  • 2:55 p.m. FID says 4:00 p.m. flight rescheduled to 5:05 p.m. (incoming plane arriving 3:15 p.m.)
  • 4:34 p.m. Announcement, catering issues, big groan in the waiting room followed by lots of chatter
  • 4:37 p.m. Wheel chairs go in, big cheer in waiting room
  • 4:50 p.m. In seat with humongous leg room
  • 5:27 p.m. Wheels up, in the air, for a long time this time, I hope
  • 1:45 a.m. Wheels down, in Vegas
More wheelchairs than yesterday – 30 today, 20 yesterday, no wait, the 30 wheelchairs were for the incoming flight.

Omni first class meal: steak or teriyaki chicken again, not a good sign.
The first-class meal looked nice, but was not good, it needed a lot more salt than that little packet they provided. Steak well done, dry and hard, gravy not delicious, limp beans, carrots and sweet red peppers obviously thawed. Dry bun wrapped in cellophane, not fresh, somen (thin white Japanese noodles) with fish cake tempura tasted slightly past its prime. Only tasty item was the butterscotch brownie from "Love and Quiches" dessert.
Final Day (Return to Honolulu)
On bus to McCarran, the host announced the first two bags will be checked in for free (no deal for me, in first class, two bags free anyway). Normal is $25 for first two (?). Also, they will be mailing us a compensation coupon good for our next Vegas tour. A fellow passenger said it'll be $200. She was right, I got the compensation coupon the day after our return. Guess she's had experience with this sort of thing on Vacations Hawaii before.
I'd rather have had casino credit that I could have gambled with because I'm not sure I'll be using Vacations Hawaii ever again. We'll see.

Y … why “Y”? It’s the end of “story.”


casch said...

Whew! What a "vacation"!

Craig Miyamoto said...

You can say that again!

~ Craig