United Island Hopper Trip Notes Part 2: It’s Time To Hop!

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For the 2nd day in a row, it was off to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. We knew it would be a long and exhausting day before ending in stunning Palau, but we had no idea how long it would become.

Or that a 50 minute connection in Guam would allow for some pretty cool snorkeling (Be sure to change the quality up to 1080p HD and don’t miss the school of fish dispersing at 0:46) After a decade of snorkeling my only regret is not investing in a GoPro earlier!

My kids favorite stuffed animals, “Da” and “Nordy,” getting ready in Honolulu’s United Club for a wild ride to the Far East:

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Flying over Kwajalein:

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The 2 schools of thought on how I pick my next flight destination…

The United Island Hopper:

Read my trip notes on the Island Hopper after the jump:

There was a surprising amount of traffic going from Waikiki to the airport at 5:30am. You’re in Hawaii folks, sleep in a bit 😉

Da and Nordy enjoying the Camaro:

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Ready and raring to go:

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1 day, 7 boarding passes (Parents, this is why you don’t give your boys middle names that start with the letter A.  Though with 6 boys and no girls, it figures that my mother would have her revenge with a DANIELA and GAVRIELA)

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As I mentioned in part 1, this trip would be memorable enough to make it worth hanging onto the boarding passes to tell the story.  I don’t love the flimsy boarding passes from the checkin machine, so I asked for paperstock passes to keep as a souvenir.  Unfortunately while the checkin machine printed out passes for each leg of the flight, the agents were only able to print a single boarding pass for the entire hopper as the segments were all lumped together in our itinerary.  We also weren’t able to change seats at all for the different segments due to that.

Apparently what we should have done was called United and asked them to split off every segment from the direct flight.  Though odds are that would have taken several HUCAs to accomplish.

One of the reasons to do that though is that it’s ideal to be on the left side of the plane from Honolulu to Majuro for views of the approach to Majuro, while for the rest of the trip the best views are generally on the right side.

We had a little time until boarding, so we went to the United Club. Honolulu’s airport is sprawling and it was at least a 10 minute walk from our gate to the club.  But I did get to fill up my Hydro Flask with ice water.  After reading so many trip reports on DDF about people wishing they could live there I started a thread asking who’s ready to start a frum community there.  As it turns out a DDF’er did just that when he took a job transfer to Hawaii.  He raved on his blog about the Hydro Flask and I’ve been in love with it since I made the splurge on it as well. It will literally keep ice frozen even when I leave it in my car overnight. This straw really ought to come with it as it’s a must-have as well.  No, it’s not cheap.  But I use it daily and love it.

Da and Nordy enjoying the view in the United Club Honolulu:

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United Club Honolulu:

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United Club Honolulu:

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Ship N14240, the 737-800 that would host us for the next 6 flights:

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First stop: Majuro

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United maintains a subfleet of 737-800s just for the island hopper route. First class has modified seats so that the extra set of pilots that are required on the route can recline their seats much further back than normal.  United doesn’t sell row 2AB as the seats recline too far into them and the pilots keep some of their belongings there.  A mechanic with lots of spare parts is also always onboard the island hopper flights, though the mechanic sits in coach.

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Mark, the international service manager for the flight, was excellent.  You can tell he’s a regular on the route as he seemed to know most of the passengers on the flight.  He kept our glasses filled with our preferred beverages throughout the hopper and was very attentive.

He informed us that they had just 1 kosher meal for each of us for the entire flight and it didn’t consist of any hot dish.  Ouch.  He told us that the instructions were for it to be served on the final leg of the hopper.  And he begged us to “write to Chicago” to let them know to please improve the kosher offering on the flight that had been slashed since the Continental days.

Of course we had come prepared and Mark was thrilled to be able to warm up our chocolate cheese blintzes from Pomegranate that were double wrapped for heating in an oven.

My wife makes delicious chocolate chip cheese blintzes and that’s kind of what I pictured these being.  These are actually chocolate wrappers around heavy chocolate infused cheese filling.  Now I’m a chocolate fan and all, but this was even a bit too chocolatey for me! Mark gave us some packets of jam that went very well with the blintzes.  The serving size is huge, 6 big blintzes in one meal that’s easily enough for 2 people.  In general Pomegranate’s dairy meals are all plenty of food for 2 people:

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There is no wi-fi or even power on the island hopper birds, though those features are supposed to be added in the future.

The first island hopper leg from Honolulu to Majuro is the longest at about 5 hours.  We left Honolulu at 7:20 on Monday morning and would arrive in Majuro at 10:35am on Tuesday morning.

Aloha Oahu:

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Taking off from Oahu:

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Taking off from Oahu:

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We got in some shut-eye, though it’s not that easy in the domestic style first class seats.

Finally our first stop came into view, Majuro in the Marshall Islands:

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Pictures do no justice to how stunning of a sight it is.  The island hopper is a day full of incredibly beautiful sights:

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Landing in Majuro:

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Landing in Majuro:

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Majuro is a narrow atoll in middle of the ocean and the runway is just about as wide as the atoll.

If you choose to de-board you have to bring everything with you, as a security sweep is done at every stop.  If you stay on the plane you have to take down your bags and identify them during the sweep.

Luckily there is a very convenient ramp that is used at all of the stops.  I have no idea why all airports without jet-bridges don’t use a ramp instead of a staircase.

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The humidity in Majuro was unbelievable, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Note to others: Wear lightweight clothes!

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We had been warned to always use the bathrooms onboard the planes.  The facilities in the boarding areas leave a lot to be desired.

Most of the airports do have vendors that sell snacks and trinkets.  I picked up earrings for my wife at every stop along the hopper route. US dollars are used at all the stops along the hopper.

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Of course what we really wanted was a stamp from each of the stops.  I had to get a new passport 2 years ago because I had filled up my previous passport with stamps and I’d be happy to do the same again.

So we asked if we could get our passports stamped even though we were just transiting and we were led through the door as seen in the picture above next to the NTA WiFi sign, into this room:

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And we waited to get our first stamp of the day:

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Except that AJK didn’t have his passport.  He frantically dug through all of his bags but could not come up with it.  Now, in his defense, he did seem to be coming down with a fever.  But this trip would turn very interesting if he didn’t have his passport…
[AJK: Yep, unfortunately, by this time I was in the throes of what I guesstimate to be a fever of at least 100, perhaps slightly more. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying this epic, once-in-a-lifetime, borderline insane adventure, especially the passport stamps. However, when I looked in my bag to grab my passport for the Majuro stamp and then discovered it wasn’t where I thought it would be, that 100 fever must have gone to 105 easy. Trying to remain calm, though at the same time thinking how I would adapt to permanent life in Majuro, whether I could start a Jewish community there, and whether mileage runs were better from this part of the world, I realized that I had to have had my passport upon departing Honolulu, and in fact, I had distinctly remember taking the passport out of the TSA security bin in Honolulu, so I surmised prayed I had simply left it on the plane due to my “fever cloudiness.”]

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So AJK ran back to get back on the plane and search for his passport and I got my first stamp:

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Maybe one day…

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They wouldn’t let AJK return to the plane but said that an agent would search for it and let him know. And hey, worst case is that AJK would probably become really great at surfing, fishing, and diving while he waited for a new passport to be flown in 😉

[AJK: I waited on pins and needles for the Majuro security agent to walk back to the plane, disappear onboard for 5 minutes, and then finally, in the distance, I could see the agent start walking back towards me in the terminal. Honestly, I don’t think she could have walked any slower, and all the while, I was frantically scanning her hands for my passport.

About halfway back to the terminal, I noticed she was coming e-m-p-t-y h-a-n-d-e-d.

I couldn’t believe it. I had flown more than 7,000 miles in the last 18 hours to make this trip and it was about to come to an abrupt and unplanned end. Is rent in Majuro cheap? Would my wife come and visit me? Could I learn Mashallese? Would my NY law license to the Marshall Islands? Would Dan stay with me? (The only question to which I knew the answer was the last: “Absolutely not.”)

My last and final hope was that this security agent didn’t have the same motivation as I would when looking for my passport so I hoped she simply overlooked it…

Finally, after the sweep, I ran to the plane and just as I passed the doorway, I noticed my passport sitting in plain view on one of the galley counters. Back in business, people‼

Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I snatched the passport, and ran full speed–to heck with the 105 degree fever–to get my passport stamped, wondering if the plane would wait. I waited for what felt like an eternity, and then the Majuro customs agent appeared, stamped my passport, and I made it back on the plane just as they were pulling away the jet-ramp. Success!]

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With that excitement behind us, we bid adieu to the Marshall Islands:

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Boarding in Majuro:

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The ETOPS 240 certified aircraft can fly up to 4 hours away from the nearest diversion airport:

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AJK and I had seats 4EF for the entire journey and were going to switch off between the aisle and window seat every other leg.  But after being spoiled by the first leg, AJK decided that he didn’t want to forfeit the window, so he asked the gentleman sitting in 3F if he wouldn’t mind switching to 4E.

He readily agreed, but we both felt terrible when we saw that his foot was in a cast…

At any rate he wound up being a really interesting guy.  He lives in New Jersey and surveys the school systems in these remote Pacific islands. He had just been in Majuro for several days and was going to be surveying the schools in islands in and around Kwajalein next.  He had injured himself in a diving accident.

Then he asked how I dealt with Sabbath travel and the international dateline. My jaw dropped.  The international dateline is one of the more complicated topics in Jewish law.  The most erudite explanation on the topic that I’ve heard was a several hour long class by R’ Aaron Dovid Gancz, but the class was given on Shavuos so I wasn’t able to record it, which is a shame. Hopefully someone will record it and upload it online one day as I’d love to listen to it again.

At any rate, turns out my seatmate was a Seventh-day Adventist and while he doesn’t keep Shabbos as a religious jew does, he does worship and avoids flying on Saturday.  We talked about Samoa switching to the other side of the dateline and other complications of travel over the dateline, such as counting sefira and the need to cross back over the dateline before Shavuos in order for the sixth day of Sivan to fall out on the day after counting the 49th day of sefira.

And inevitably we discussed the mileage game and travel hacking which lasted until we landed in Kwajalein, where he deplaned.

Taking off from Majuro:

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Taking off from Majuro:

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Flying above the clouds:

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Landing in Kwajalein:

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Kwajalein:

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Kwajalein:

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Kwajalein is a US military base and only authorized personnel can exit the plane.

If you’re an Elon Musk fan, you’ve probably heard of Kwajalein before, it served a vital purpose in saving both SpaceX and Tesla.

There was open wifi in Kwajalein and I was able to post some pictures on Instagram and call home using Google Hangouts.

At this point AJK was sitting in 3F and was not feeling well at all.  When the passenger ticketed in 3F came by, AJK again asked if he would mind moving to 4E.  He said sure, but it became evident that he was not.  And that is why I almost never ask somebody to trade seats.  He went on to tell me that he’s fine switching, but that he’s not going to switch again until he gets to Guam. And that if I need to go to the bathroom at all then he’s going to switch back for good.

I told him he could just switch back now, but he declined.

This was going to be fun!

Next, he just lost it when I was taking pictures of Kwajalein.  Apparently you’re not supposed to take pictures of the island, though that was never announced.
[AJK: It was indeed announced, but apparently Dan didn’t hear it, probably because from takeoff to touchdown Dan dons his noise-cancelling Bose headphones… Missed the announcement accidentally or by design, huh? ]

I did wind up using the bathroom after he got up to do the same…

The views though made up for all the awkwardness.

Taking off from Kwajalein:

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Taking off from Kwajalein:

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Taking off from Kwajalein:

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Kwajalein:

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Landing in Kosrae:

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Landing in Kosrae:

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Landing in Kosrae:

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Landing in Kosrae:

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Landing in Kosrae:

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A fire truck is on hand at every stop along the hopper route:

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In case you’ve ever wanted to fly on an extra special flight…

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Snack bar in Kosrae:

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Car rental anyone?

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I told AJK that I had more than my share of General Grumpus, so I was going to move up to 3F while he would take over at 4F.

[AJK: OK, I’ll admit, he was indeed General Grumpus… initially. But Dan forgot to use one of the most potent weapons in his arsenal… A weapon that could turn the heart of some of the most battle-hardened travel warriors from metal to mush. Lo and behold, would you believe General Grumpus turned into the General Gracious when we began talking about the credit card game, our current itinerary, first class travel, and elite status? There is more than one way to skin a cat ]

Take-off from Kosrae:

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Take-off from Kosrae:

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Take-off from Kosrae:

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Take-off from Kosrae:

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Take-off from Kosrae:

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Take-off from Kosrae:

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It was now Tuesday afternoon and the sheer exhaustion of traveling without a good night’s sleep since Friday began to catch up with me. [AJK: And that’s being healthy. Me, I was still fighting a fever that just didn’t want to break…]  But the experience and the breathtaking views made it all worthwhile:

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Landing in Pohnpei:

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Landing in Pohnpei:

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Landing in Pohnpei:

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Exiting the plane I hear someone behind me call out “Hey Jew!”

Um, OK.  Not something I hear everyday despite the Hawaiian print yarmulkah I was wearing. It got more interesting from there…

Turns out though that a lot of people were interested in knowing about Judaism and asked about my yarmulkah and tzitzis and what it represented.  Many of the people had never seen an Orthodox Jew before.

AJK and I turned left to get a stamp along with the arriving passengers and my new friend started tagging along and went nuts that we were going the wrong way.  When I told him what we were up to he decided that he loved me and that he had to go into business and become friends with me…so yes, you’ll meet some interesting characters along the hopper.

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It was raining in Pohnpei, though United is prepared for that and handed out umbrellas to everyone:

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In Pohnpei a husband and wife were flying with their infant after a long weekend in Pohnpei back home to Chuuk. They had one first class seat next to me and the husband wisely gave it to his wife who was nursing the baby. In a previous life I’d have been annoyed at the prospect of sitting in first class next to a baby.  But once you have kids these things don’t bother you anymore.  I was just happy the crying baby wasn’t my responsibility 😀

Taking off from Pohnpei:

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Taking off from Pohnpei:

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One of the most epic drives in the US is Maui’s Road to Hana, possibly the only place in the world where you get “waterfall fatigue” where despite their beauty you begin to find them routine.  Well the island hopper may be the only flight in the world where “island fatigue” settles in.

Islands between Pohnpei and Chuuk:

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Eventually you start seeing shapes in the islands, is that a stingray?

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Landing in Chuuk:

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United brings the mail to all of the islands:

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Firetrucks in Chuuk:

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Local entertainment: Watching the island-hopper land!

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Nordy taking a dive:

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Chuuk boarding area:

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Gift/snack shop in Chuuk:

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And here’s where things began unraveling.  Someone was transporting their dog with them, but it wasn’t properly documented.  The pilots said it would take just a few minutes, but it turned into a 40 minute delay.  Our connection in Guam for our flight to Koror, Palau was just 50 minutes long.

Without any internet connection or cell service, there was no way to check or make a phone call to see if they would hold the plane for the 6 people aboard that were going onto Palau.  So it was just wait and see.

In the meantime AJK was really under weather at this point and was in the bathroom throwing up. [AJK: Yup. But the silver lining to this wonderful experience in the bathroom is that I felt much better afterwards, though not completely 100% yet.]

The final Chuuk-Guam segment was booked as its own flight broken off of the Island-Hopper, so we both selected window seats in row 4.

Another couple was seated in the aisle seats in row 4 and they asked if we would trade.  Now I’ve never refused a seat trade before, but we were both so mesmerized by the sights outside the window that neither of us were keen to trade.  I was rewarded with endless amount of coughing and just kept my face glued to the window, enjoying the sights, and hoping they would hold the plane to Palau for us.

Taking off from Chuuk:

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Taking off from Chuuk:

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Islands between Chuuk and Guam:

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And finally it was time for our kosher meal.  Which consisted of a pita, matbucha (spicy tomato dip), and a cookie.  And that is why I never rely on kosher meals, and always try to bring my own meals for the crew to heat up.

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Landing in Guam:

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Landing in Guam:

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Landing in Guam:

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We exited the plane with 20 minutes until our flight to Palau was scheduled to take off. Unfortunately they decided not to hold the plane for us and they handed us a hotel voucher and tickets to travel to Palau on the next flight out. In 25 hours. Which would get us to Palau at 9PM Wednesday evening, just hours before we were set to depart Palau at 1AM Thursday morning.

Others that were connecting in Palau to go to Manila were given boarding passes for the direct flight to Manila, so luckily we didn’t book the Manila hidden-city ticket that we were considering in part 1.

But we were crushed. United had held the flight 45 minutes for a dog, but wouldn’t hold the Palau flight for a few minutes for 6 people. When would I possibly make it back to this corner of the world to get to Palau?

Thanks to Global Entry we cleared immigration in less than a minute, but we were told that our bags were already offloaded, so even if we tried to run to the gate for the Palau flight we wouldn’t have our food.  And besides they said we’d have no chance to making it as we would have to go through security again.

It took United a full hour to get us our bag of food.  And the Palau flight took off 10 minutes late.

We were angry. And exhausted.  And angry.

So we went to the ticketing counter to declare the entire trip in vain.  AJK had to be back at work Friday morning. My father-in-law was coming to Cleveland with his sister to spend Shabbos with us.  Palau was toast.

The first agent had no idea what to make of our ticket, so she punted us off to Joseph, the lead United agent in Guam that evening.

Joseph was amazing. [AJK: “Amazing” would be an understatement actually…]

He was willing to do anything we wanted.

At first he rebooked us to fly home at 6:55am the next morning flying via Tokyo and Chicago.  When he printed the boarding passes though, we noticed that he had booked us in ANA business class instead of first class. When we pointed it out, he quickly fixed that and put us in first class from Tokyo to Chicago and in first class onto Cleveland and Newark respectively.

We were hoping to possibly try to get our miles back from United, but that seemed like a long-shot.  It was made even more complicated as our ticket was booked in 3 separate reservations with the first reservation booked using Singapore miles.

So we decided to add an overnight in Tokyo and try to salvage something from the trip. We could check out the famous Tsukiji Market fish auction in Tokyo and stay a night in the renowned Park Hyatt there.

We were on a one-way United award, so technically we weren’t able to stopover for more than 24 hours, though Joseph was more than happy to allow us to stopover in Tokyo for 36 hours.  I’ve been able to pull off stopovers on one-way awards before, but those take a number of HUCAs…

Joseph rebooked us in a full revenue fare class.  I gave my United 1K mileage number and wound up with no miles. AJK gave his Aegean mileage number and wound up with tens of thousands of miles.
[AJK: 35,000 miles to be exact. Not only that, but this one-way travel earned me Star Alliance Gold for another year, through 2017! Bottom line, if United moves you from an award bucket to a revenue fare due to being bumped, the flight being cancelled or delayed, make sure to switch your frequent flyer number to a partner to be able to earn miles free miles on a free ticket. United will not award them to its own program and you won’t get retroactive credit after the flight.]

Lesson learned.

AJK then smartly asked Joseph if he wouldn’t mind changing the Tokyo-Chicago-Newark flight to the Tokyo-JFK nonstop. [AJK: When you get an agent as good as Joseph, you make sure to leave it all out on the floor 😛 ] ANA award space from Tokyo-Chicago is much easier to find then Tokyo-JFK, but as Joseph was rebooking us in a revenue fare class that didn’t matter at all. He happily rebooked us to the JFK flight and booked a connection from Newark-Cleveland for me with enough time to grab dinner in Manhattan along the way.

And he was also happy to give us an extra hotel voucher so that we’d each have our own room.

At this point we were both running on fumes from exhaustion.

Joseph gave us vouchers to pay for a round-trip taxi ride from the airport to the Aqua Suites hotel.  The hotel was a dump and normally I’d have used a Hyatt anniversary night to stay at the Hyatt Regency or have used some Starpoints for the Westin, but we were far more interested in grabbing a bite to eat and going to bed.

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The hotel had no space to freeze our Pomegranate meals, but the in-house restaurant gave us a cooler that we filled with ice to keep our meals frozen.  The restaurant grudgingly warmed up our meals for 15 minutes until they closed, at which point the meals were just lukewarm.

Even at that temperature the lamb meatballs and the honey mustard corned beef were both delicious:

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The lobby and the hallways were hot and humid. The room itself was hot as well, though eventually the air conditioning unit started cooling it down.

There was paint peeling and the room could have used a nice renovation, but it was fine for a night.

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For some reason when using the shower the bathroom sink filled up

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And with that we tried to get some shut-eye.  Except I couldn’t sleep.

I was wired at this point, despite the lack of sleep in several days.  I still couldn’t believe that Palau was gone as I watched the Youtube videos on Jellyfish Lake.

I called Mimi over Google Hangouts to let her know the change in plans.

Except she wouldn’t have any of it.  I didn’t leave home and travel to the other side of the world only to miss Palau.  Yes, it would be nice to have me home for Shabbos, but better that I get Palau out of my system.

That’s my Eishes Chayil that verifies everything that I wrote here 🙂

I waited a bit and then called AJK in his room and asked if he was still interested in trying to salvage Palau. [AJK: Actually, Dan waited precisely 37 minutes after we finished eating dinner, and me telling him not to bother me until the morning so I could get a decent night of sleep and get over this fever, but you see how well Dan follows directions when he gets an idea in his head…] And he said in no uncertain terms that his boss was counting on him being back Friday morning.

I called Mimi back and asked what I should do.  She said that I should just go without him. Besides, if I say I’m going anyway he’ll probably find a way to make it work. [AJK: Ah, a woman’s intuition. Bah!]

I wasn’t sure so I asked the experts on DDF if I should really fly solo.  The responses to that question were pretty awesome, and I’d made up my mind to continue onto Palau.

So at 4am, a few hours before our newly planned flight to Tokyo was set to depart, I called AJK once again and let him know that I was going to head back to the airport to try to salvage the ticket to Palau. And he said there’s no way I was going to Palau while he went back to NYC.  [AJK: No way he was going to continue on without me, not a chance.] He called his boss and it turned out that the project he was supposed to work on Friday wasn’t going to be ready for him to work on anyway. [AJK: The stars aligned, and my boss, the person for whom every lawyer should want to work for, told me I didn’t have to rush back because the project had been pushed to early the following week. God bless him! Then, I called *my* eishes chayil, who similar to Dan’s wife, agreed that this was an opportunity that I could not miss, and graciously gave me permission to continue on to the glory that was going to be Palau.]

Palau was back on the table!

We packed up our things once again and took a cab to the airport to work on our tickets once again.  We brought our suitcases just in case they couldn’t get us to Palau and we would have to take the 6:55am flight to Tokyo.

Unfortunately the lead agent in the morning wasn’t nearly as good as Joseph was.  She had a hard time understanding what we wanted to do and why we should be entitled to continue onto Palau.

Luckily Joseph had left the original itinerary for the island hopper intact, so we actually still had a ticket that evening to Palau.  So all the agent had to do was rebook us from Palau to Tokyo via Guam at 1am on Friday morning, arriving into Tokyo at 9am Friday morning.  She spent quite a lot of time verifying that we had miss-connected the previous day due to United’s fault and that verification took a bizarrely long amount of time.

And then I needed to explain to her why we needed to stay in Tokyo for 2 nights until Sunday due to Shabbos.  Luckily Joseph left good notes and had created an ideal routing for us, so she was able to get us rebooked.

Then I asked for her to give us PR-1 status on the upgrade list as displaced business class passengers for the flight to Palau, for which we were currently seated in coach as business class was full.  She seemed flabbergasted that I knew their jargon, but insisted that she would have to remove us from our bulkhead seats in order to waitlist us for first class.  Which is of course utter nonsense.  After some back and forth consisting of me walking her through the process we did get our PR-1 status, though for some reason AJK was listed as #1 despite the fact that he doesn’t have United status and I was listed as #2 with my 1K status. Go figure.

Meanwhile AJK sat in the corner taking pictures of “me in my element”

Finally I asked for another hotel, taxi, and meal voucher.  The agent pushed back a little, but there was no way I was going to checkout of the hotel at noon and wait round at the airport for 7 hours, so she issued those vouchers again as well.

In all it took several hours, but the new itinerary was looking nice:

Sunday:

UA1040 CLE-EWR 6:04am-7:31am, 73G First

1:39 connection in Newark

UA15 EWR-HNL 9:10am-2:15pm, 764 Business

1 night in Honolulu, time on ground 17:10

Monday/Tuesday:

UA154 HNL-MAJ 7:25am-10:35am+1, 738 Business

0:45 connection in Majuro

UA154 MAJ-KWA 11:20am-12:20pm, 738 Business

0:39 connection in Kwajalein

UA154 KWA-KSA 12:59pm-1:12pm, 738 Business

0:35 connection in Kosrae

UA154 KSA-PNI 1:47pm-2:50pm, 738 Business

0:41 connection in Pohnpei

UA154 PNI-TKK 3:31pm-3:43pm, 738 Business

0:37 connection in Chuuk

UA154 TKK-GUM 4:20pm-5:55pm, 738 Business

0:50 connection in Guam

UA193 GUM-ROR 6:45pm-7:55pm, 738 Business

Thursday:

UA158 ROR-GUM 1:45am-4:45am, 73G Coach

2:45 connection in Guam

UA165 GUM-FUK 7:30am-10:50am, 73G Business

2:20 connection in Fukuoka

NH2144 FUK-NRT 1:10pm-3:00pm, 73G Coach

2:10 connection in Tokyo

NH1012, NRT-ORD, 5:10pm-2:45pm, 77W First

5:00 connection in Chicago

UA1037 ORD-CLE 7:45pm-10:03pm, 738 First

1 night in Guam, time on ground 25:35

Thursday:

UA193 GUM-ROR 7:30pm-8:40pm, 738 Coach

1 night in Palau, time on ground 29:50

Friday

UA158 ROR-GUM 1:45am-4:45am, 73G Coach

2:45 connection in Guam

UA828 GUM-NRT 6:55am-9:40am, 772 Business

2 nights in Tokyo, time on ground 55:00

Sunday

NH1010, NRT-JFK, 4:40pm-4:25pm, 77W First

5:11 connection in NYC

UA330, EWR-CLE 9:36pm-11:20pm, 320 First

And once again it was back to the Aqua Suites to try to get some shut-eye.  I tossed, I turned, but sleep remained elusive.

The restaurant refused to warm up any food for us even when we offered to pay.  So we bought some items from the gift shop with our meal vouchers to wrap the food in to heat up in the microwave.

This is 1/4 of the Mac & Cheese meal from Pomegranate, like I said, the dairy meals are very generously sized.

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AJK was doing some work but I wasn’t about to stay indoors all day. [AJK: And, I knew I had to pay the fever piper, so it was either going to be at the expense of Guam or Palau. I chose the former, and thankfully, it turned out to be the right decision as the fever was completely gone by the time we took off for Palau. Ain’t no substitute for rest!] Guam isn’t known as an island with a lot to see or do.  But the #1 activity in Guam is Ypao Beach which was within walking distance of the hotel.  Well technically it was within walking distance.  I didn’t realize that there would be a steep hill with no sidewalks whatsoever, but full of speeding drivers.  After a rather harrowing walk though I made it to the beach:

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I had read there would be snorkeling gear for rent on the beach, but I wasn’t able to find any.  So I walked down the beach and did find several places with snorkeling gear, but they all belonged to hotels and the gear was for hotel guests only.

Airplane flying over Ypao Beach:

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While I was walking along the beach trying to find some snorkeling gear I came by one stand, that once again belonged to a hotel.

2 guys were running the stand and apparently they had never encountered a Jew before, though they were pretty convinced that Jews run the world.  We got into a theological discussion and I did my best to dispel whatever odd stereotypes they had.  When I started to say good-bye they handed me snorkeling gear and showed me the best places to go.

The snorkeling was actually really good, with lots of great fish to see. Be sure to change the quality of the video to 1080p:

fish4a

fish3a

fish2

fish1

Taxis aren’t cheap in Guam, the cab I took back from the beach to the hotel was under a mile, but cost $15.

With more time to kill in Guam I took a swim in the hotel’s pool:

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Finally it was time to say goodbye to the Aqua Suites:

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And head back to the Guam airport for the 3rd time in 24 hours:

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The airport has several cows statues in it, though I’m still not sure why:

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Duty-free in Guam airport is surprisingly well priced, especially for high-end scotches with a 15% discount for using a Visa Signature card.  But carrying bottles of scotch around the world didn’t appeal enough to make it worthwhile.

Before the flight we hit up the United Club:

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And after a 50 minute connection that became a 25 hour connection it was finally time to fly to Palau, where an action packed day was in store for us.  Our fortune finally appeared to be turning around.

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To be continued…

Leave a Reply

31 Comments On "United Island Hopper Trip Notes Part 2: It’s Time To Hop!"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Deenz

I think my favorite part about this is that you bought earrings at every stop.
😀

matovu

Awesomeness

Bev

Can we get some go pro action of your go pro? That would
really round out this article and make my Sunday.

Chaim

This reads like a trip from hell!

nate

thanks for the read. Fascinating.

JP

Those aren’t cows in Guam’s airport, they’re Carabao https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carabao

YoniPDX

Dan
Why they are all over the airport?
” Carabaos were also introduced to Guam from the Philippines in the 17th century. They have also acquired great cultural significance to native Chamorro and is considered as the unofficial national animal of Guam.”

AKA Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo are also Kosher per CRI and used to be common in Israel. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3248717,00.html

Not sure why anyone would want to eat the meat, its rather tough, perhaps if it was raised wagyu style and had the marbling it would be different. Dairy products another story.

Water Buffalo cheese or mozzarella di bufala is wonderful and some consider it the king of mozzarella cheeses. Unsure of the hechsher or if chalav Yisrael, but this location 45 min south of Tel Aviv is supposed to produce Kosher mozzarella di bufala. I do recall seeing it at Trader Joe’s but don’t recall if it was on the cRc list.

YoniPDX

Oops, forget to include the location its Moshav Bitzaron link:
bufalo.co.il

Dan

@Deenz:
Nothing fancy, but it’s the thought that counts 🙂

@Bev:
There’s a video in this post and several more to come in the next installment.

@Chaim:
It was grueling, sure.
But overall it was an amazing experience.

When we were in the process we said that it was awesome, but definitely something that needs to be experienced just once.

Just last week though AJK messages me “call me crazy, but I wanna do it again, I’ve come full circle in a matter of weeks…”

The real kicker was Palau. I’m dying to go back.

@nate:
Glad you enjoyed!

@JP:
Awesome, thanks!

aradisc

So, as it turns out, you do have to go to the end of the Earth to find a helpful United agent.

voldemort

Great stuff!!
Thanks to both of you!

Avadah

@AJK
I’ll pay for your next hopper for Joseph’s number.

Dave

Thy fly 757 to there

Eli

Amazing!
#jealous

Dan

@aradisc:
😀

@Avadah:
Ha!

@Dave:
To where?

Yanky Scheinfeld

Enjoyed reading it Dan! Looks amazing. Thanks for posting

tageed-lee

Love the TR!! Each word more suspenseful than the next…Thanks for always sharing and keeping all of us inspired!

Joe4007

Awesome read. Keep it coming!

Isaac

What a trip! You and AJK are one of a kind. Keep it coming!

Gabi

Great TR. Keep em coming – we love reading this stuff!

lyla

Thank you both! Can’t wait for part 3.

eliteflyer

Great post! Really enjoyed reading.

Username

Finally a picture of…

Chapshnell

keep it up Dan, well written. love the ajk write in

Z

Wow! btw here is the correct link on DDF for Dan asking whether or not to go solo http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=52686.285. Its fascinating to go through that thread now and put it all in context.

Chocolate

Wow sounds insanely exhausting but amazing!
And funny. :))

Gswannabe

Great TR !
Thanks

M&M

Awesome!

Yaakov

How did you handle sefiras haomer?

Frank Roche

Dan, I always thought yap was part the island hopper a few years ago CO did an article in their in-flight mag on the island hopper and yap always wanted to go there after reading your story i will Thanks Frank

ilherman

Well, since I know just a little bit about the UA internal system I will explain why AJK was #1 on the waitlist and not you even you have 1K status.

The correct code for PR-1 status is waitlisting the PNR using a SSR called PA (It goes down to PB/PC/PD). PA is used for GS members, now since you (and AJK) don’t belong to be waitlisted as a PA, ONLY GS members belong in PA, the system does not prioritize the customer based on status. Since PA accommodates only one status, GS. While the matter that does factor is fare class and time of request, since you were both holding the same fare class the next factor was time of request. And I would guess that the agent requested AJKs upgrade first, that is why he was #1

wpDiscuz