Today is our trip home. We have a flight scheduled for 3:10 PM.
We headed for breakfast on the property. They have a very good buffet here. We tried it earlier in the trip and decided to do it again. It is situated right on the beach and we had a lovely breakfast. During breakfast I got a text message that said my 3:10 PM flight was now a 5:09 PM flight. They needed to find a crew. Not sure how that happens, but it did. Breakfast finished, we went back to the room to pack and wait for our shuttle ride to the airport. We have an 11:00 checkout time, so we scheduled the shuttle for 11:00. We checked out with no problem and headed for the bus meeting area. It’s a bit of a hike and we got there at about 10:40. Our shuttle arrived right at 11:00 and we got on. We were the only ones on the shuttle, so there shouldn’t be an issue with luggage.
We arrived at the airport at about 11:30 and the first thing we noticed was a sign that said United Airlines would not check in any luggage more than 4 hours ahead of flight time. Well, we were less than 4 hours ahead of the original flight time, but 5.5 hours ahead of our current flight time. A United agent asked if he could help and I told him the issue. He said he wasn’t sure if we could check our bags, but he said, “Let’s give it a try”. We tried and sure enough, we were able to check in. Crisis averted. We got our boarding passes and headed for our gate, gate F1. An interesting thing about the terminal in Hawaii. They are mostly open air. Very nice unless it is 95 degrees and humid outside. We found gate F1 and discovered it was enclosed and air conditioned. Nice. We went to enter the gate area and were told by a young lady whose native language was not English that we could not enter the gate area. We were too early. Come back later. The gate was being used by Air Japan. So, we went to sit in the hot and humid terminal area, watching a number of other folks being turned away from the gate. After a while I thought of seeing if I could use the United Airlines Club room. After all, I was flying First Class. I walked to the club lounge, a fair distance away and upstairs. I was told that I was not entitled because I was domestic First Class. If I was international first class, I would have access. She did, however, tell me that the reason I could not use the gate is that regulations say that the gate area of an international flight has to be closed to everyone except passengers of that flight. Now, I fly frequently out of Newark. They don’t have closed off gate areas for anybody in terminal C. But I could see that I wasn’t going to get anywhere.
I headed back to the terminal and Cheryl and I sat until about 3:00 when the JAL flight left and the gate opened for all. We got a seat and waited for our flight. It was now scheduled for 5:09 so I assumed boarding would start at about 4:15-4:30. Then I got a text message. Our gate had been moved from F1 to F2. Not a long walk. We went over to F2 and waited for our flight boarding. At about 4:15 they started pre-boarding, and soon after our group was announced. We boarded with little fanfare and found our seats. I had used points to upgrade to first class to take advantage of the lie flat seats for our overnight flight. Once seated, we were offered drinks right away. Our choices were orange juice, champagne or water. I thought for a minute and finally decided on orange juice. The flight attendant seeing me hesitate suggested she could add champagne to the orange juice. That sounded much better. Cheryl had the water. Shortly before closing the door, an announcement came over the PA saying that we were going to delay for a few minutes. There was a servicewoman on this flight who was returning the remains of a WWII serviceman to NJ, and there was a small ceremony that takes place on the tarmac prior to loading into the luggage compartment. They said they were waiting for the servicewoman to get clearance to go onto the tarmac. That took about 5 minutes and the door was closed.
The flight took off pretty quickly after that, and we were on our way. Dinner was soon served. I had a grilled chicken breast with a tomato sauce and Cheryl had salmon. Each came with side dishes, salad bread and dessert. After dinner I settled in to watch “On the Basis of Sex”. Cheryl had watched it on the way out and recommended it to me. It is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she became a lawyer and one of her early cases. It was really good. After, I watched some episodes of sitcoms and soon went to bed. I tried the lie flat bed and discovered that it worked really well. You really are flat on relatively comfortable cushions and a reasonable pillow. I was actually able to get some sleep.
When I woke up it was 6:30 Eastern time and the cabin was just starting to stir. The lights were gradually coming up and at a little before 7 breakfast was coming out. We had an oatmeal type thing with craisins a fruit bowl, coffee or tea, a cinnamon roll and orange juice. Pretty good.
We landed at about 8:05 and taxied to the gate at Newark. We were again asked to remain seated when the seatbelt sign went off in respect to the servicewoman. To my surprise most people did. She went by us and off the plane, at which time the usual chaos in the aisle occurred. We got off pretty quickly and headed for the baggage claim. There we met our friend Robin. I had texted him from Hawaii and alerted him that our flight was late. He was tracking it on an app and was there waiting for us when we arrived. We got our bags and had an uneventful trip home. We got home and decided our bodies had no idea what time it was. In any event it was the end of a wonderful but interesting vacation.