Hawaii Day 1: Touchdown!
January 29, 2018
So the Hawaii adventure kicked off with quite a bang. It was a little tense starting off, and towards the middle… and I guess the end too; but it all worked out! I’ll give you the whirlwind overview…
So we flew out of Atlanta this morning, but not before catching a 5:30am shuttle out of Auburn, Alabama(a little over 100 miles southwest of Atlanta). Our fight wasn’t until 11am, so we had plenty of time to get there, even when losing an hour with time zones.
Well, a semi truck had caught completely on fire about 5 miles south of the Airport exit on I-85, and we hit the traffic for it about 18 miles out. Que sitting in traffic for nearly two hours as several of the 7 other people in our shuttle missed their morning flights. By the time we’d passed the smoldering wreckage and turned into the Airport, we had 50 mins until our flight left.
I’ve spent a great portion of my life sitting in the Atlanta Airport, but always on connecting flights; never as my first departure and check in. I was expecting a zoo, and a zoo it was.
Normally I only have carry on luggage, but due to the fishing gear I’ve brought with me, I had to check one bag with all my tackle that wouldn’t have passed security. Ok, here is where it gets tricky…
Being the loop hole finder and exploiter that I am, I discovered that it was cheaper to buy tickets to Hawaii (the big island) with a connecting flight in Honolulu (on Oahu), than it was to just buy direct tickets to Oahu without a connecting flight to Hawaii. This didn’t make sense; more flying and more planes for less money – but still stopping in the same city (on the connecting flight) that would cost more to go to without the extra flight. Go figure.
So, since we wanted to stop on Oahu first and see Pearl Harbor, plus a few other sights before island hopping, I came up with a plan. We could just ride to Oahu and intentionally miss/skip our connecting flight toHawaii (the big island). After all, it was cheaper than just buying a ticket to Oahu in the first place. Once I’d figured this out, I felt clever. “Not so fast Kyle!”
Being the “ass” that I am, I “ass”umed that I could just check my bag full of fishing gear to Honolulu and bypass having it automatically loaded onto the connecting flight to Hawaii. I figured it would be a simple request that the Airport could easily acquiesce; WRONG! It was a security breach of protocol, and the bag could only be checked all the way through to my final destination, “no exceptions!” This wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I’d just secured (and paid for) three nights in a beach side hostel on Oahu (no refunds) the night before. The plan was to have somewhere reliable to stay when we first touched down, get our bearings, then start roughing it.
Now I have three nights paid for on Oahu, but my luggage full of more than a thousand bucks in fishing gear is headed for Hawaii. What a conundrum. There’s nothing I can do, so I check the bag to Hawaii and decide I’ll figure everything out while in flight…
At this point I would skip to scheming on the flight, but first I have to tell you about how I was molested at the security check in. Literally.
With Jessica as my witness; I wore nothing but running shorts and a T shirt to travel in today. I put all of my stuff through the x-ray machine at security, then stepped through the rotating scanner with no shoes and only 2 articles of clothing on, literally nothing else. I step in, get scanned, step out. The security man says it detected something in my “groin region,” and asks me to step aside. He then proceeds to first pat my legs down around my crotch, then pats up the inside of my thighs up in between my pork and beans on both sides, AND THEN uses the back of his gloved hand to forcefully brush the front of my crotch not once, not twice, but SEVEN TIMES! He wasn’t done yet. He then made me hold the band of my running shorts open so he could physically look at my genitals. Done yet? Nope! Then he takes a chemical strip and swabs both my hands with it before feeding it into a machine. The machine gave the “all clear” signal, and I was FINALLY free to go. Never in all my years of travel have I been subjected to a search like that. And for the record, I do not have any metal or piercings on or around my genitalia. “WOW!”
So then we’re off again, and they’re already boarding the plane when we get to the gate. It doesn’t matter, cause we made it; we can relax for the nearly ten hour, non stop flight from Atlanta to Honolulu.
During the flight I devise a plan. I’m not going to get burned on my hostel arrangements by being forced to fly through to Hawaii. So after some quick research on flights, I let Jessica know that when we get to Honolulu she should go check in at the hostel, while I catch the connecting (50 minute) flight to Hawaii to chase down my fishing luggage, then hop right back on another 50 minute flight at 9 pm (that cost $90) from Hawaii back to Honolulu that same night. I figured a few extra hours and $90 was a small price to pay to not completely ruin the original Oahu plans and miss out on the hostel (and the money paid to it) that’s directly on Waikiki beach. BOOM, problems solved.
We touch down in Honolulu around 4 pm local time. We start making our way to the connecting flight gate (Jessica wants to see me off), when another idea comes to me. I wonder if I can intercept the fishing luggage before it gets loaded on the next plane (there was a two hour layover, so there was time). We rush down to the Delta baggage claim and I make up an excuse about what an idiot I am, and how I’d made reservations on this island while accidentally buying tickets to a different island. The woman behind the counter feels bad for how obviously stupid and incompetent I am (this was my plan), and gets on the radio to Hawaiian Airlines (our connecting flight) to try and intercept my fishing luggage before it gets loaded…
(Some of what I brought, minus reels and rods)
Too late, the Hawaiians are so efficient, they had my bag on the next plane before we even made it to baggage claim. This doesn’t stop the woman from further helping us. She makes a phone call to a Hawaiian Airlines manager and sends us off running across to the opposite end of Honolulu International Airport to the Hawaiian Airlines side to personally find and take my bag off the other plane.
After a mad dash across the Airport, we make it to Hawaiian Airlines baggage claim and I make contact with another woman behind a desk. She has absolutely no idea what’s going on and basically tells me “tough shit.” I try to explain what the other woman told me and find whoever it was she spoke to on the phone. While trying to figure all this out, a man walks through a nearby door carrying my bag; he’d found it without me and pulled it off the plane! It was a miracle! A time saving, money saving, Hawaii vacation, miracle. A Hail Mary of the improvised, loophole variety.
What had nearly become a galactic clusterf**k, ended up being a really fun adventure that played out just right. It would have been just another boring day of airline travel if it wasn’t for these many hiccups.
We caught a public bus for two bucks each and rode it for more than an hour through Honolulu to to get down to Waikiki. By the time we’d gotten to the hostel and checked in, we had ten minutes until sundown. We walked 30 seconds to the beach and wrapped up the day with the world famous Waikiki Sunset. A perfect end to a perfectly chaotic day of unplanned adventure and excitement. Tomorrow we’ll start working out the camping situation and maybe buy some bicycles…
I apologize for how rough this writing is. I’ve written it all down quick while my internal clock is reading almost 3am, and it’s all still fresh in my mind. I’ll try to polish it up tomorrow.