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UA's Micronesia Island Hopper - consolidated questions, advice, ....

UA's Micronesia Island Hopper - consolidated questions, advice, ....

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Old Jul 24, 18, 7:17 am   -   Wikipost
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Best seat advice
See update in post 500
See update in post 690


Best seat on the Island Hopper .. {closed to new posts}

An Island Hopper [Micronesia] Definitive Guide on Where to Sit [UA B737] {this thread}

FAQs derived from findark's post (post #500)
What is the Island Hopper?

The Island Hopper is a United route between Honolulu and Guam, stopping at the islands of Majuro, Kwajaelin, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Chuuk in between. The Island Hopper operates in both directions, and skips Pohnpei on certain days. You are allowed to get off the plane and "transit" at each stop except for Kwajaelin, which is a US Army base.

This route is similar to Alaska Airlines' "milk run" routes in rural Alaska. All of these routes serve as lifelines for the residents living in areas served by the routes, as the sole connection providing supplies and transportation to/from the rest of the world.

Should I experience the Hopper?

If you like hopping through short segments, with beautiful island views, as well as a constant parade of amazing cloudscape between islands, the Island Hopper may be for you!

Which direction (west or east) is better?

The prevailing wisdom here seems to be in favor of taking UA154 (HNL-GUM). findark did 155 from GUM to HNL, and I think there were some overlooked benefits. The eastbound Hopper has the advantage of doing all the fun stuff in the morning and afternoon when you're fresh and eager to enjoy. 14 hours onboard a 737 is a long time*, and doing it eastbound you can give in to the exhaustion and conk out for the final MAJ-HNL segment. Even the HNL arrival was actually not too bad - it's only 10:50pm Guam time, so if you head on to a hotel you're pretty much in line for a night's sleep.

The most notable downside of taking the Hopper eastbound is that you visit MAJ in darkness. We ran about 25m late the whole way, and it was full dark by the time we touched down in MAJ. Whichever way you go, don't do it on a Wednesday! Kosrae was my favorite island, and it would be a shame to miss it.

*And, I learned, while the flight mechanic hops off in MAJ and the pilots get to work in shifts, the cabin crew are on duty for the whole 14 hours. They were understandably a bit burnt out by the middle of MAJ-HNL, but were simply outstanding nonetheless - greeting kids and handing out wings as they boarded in MAJ.


What's with the plane configuration?

The Hopper is currently flown by a GUM subfleet 737-800 (currently Version 4 on the United website - Row 1 is set back several inches which yields fewer E+ seats). The seatmap is loaded as the "Asia local" 737 map, which looks roughly like a 737-700. Like with other "generic" maps, it will update to the full seatmap about 4 days before departure, when the additional rows will appear.

1AB are blocked for the augmented flight crew, who change places with the pilots in the cockpit at MAJ. 2AB are also blocked because the crew rest seats at 1AB will recline until almost touching row 2, and it is usually used for crew storage.

Where should I sit?

The key here is understanding approach and wind patterns, along with each airport's runway configuration. The following stops and runways are on the north side of their respective islands:

TKK (4/22), PNI (9/27), KSA (5/23)

The following stops have runways on the south side of their atolls:

KWA (6/24), MAJ (7/25)

The prevailing winds at this latitude blow from the east, so a typical landing goes from west to east (into the wind). Therefore, in order to have best views on final approach and initial takeoff, you want to be on the starboard (right, F) side for TKK, PNI, and KSA, and on the port (left, A) side for KWA and MAJ. If you are flying westbound, or you land backwards at any stop on the eastbound flight, then the flight may need to position into the approach, usually by overflying the island at higher altitude out to sea. In this case, both sides of the aircraft will get views, although the closer views belong to the "correct" side. In my case, we landed "backwards" on 22 at TKK, and used the regular 9, 5, 6, and 7 at the other stops.

You should absolutely have a window seat - why else are you here?! The best seats are therefore any window in the Business cabin (note that 1A and 2A are blocked), 7AF and 8AF in Economy Plus (10AF has a misaligned window but is okay, the missing window will kill you in 11 and then the wing really starts intruding), and anything nice and far behind the wing in Economy. In this vein, I declined an upgrade on GUM-TKK since only 2E was left, and we flew in 4A/7F, 2F/4A, 2F/3F, 3A/4A, 3A/4A, 2F/7F.


What can I do at the stops?

The best thing to do is get off the plane! You can take tarmac photos and get amazing close-ups of the plane. You will then be shepherded into the gate area, where there are restrooms (some lacking soap and/or towels) and often locals selling souvenirs and snacks. On our trip, the most substantial souvenirs were available at MAJ. If the flight is running late they will make an announcement requesting transfer pax to stay on the plane; however, as obviously savvy travelers who were along for the whole ride and could get on/off quickly with no bags to stow, we got absolutely no pushback from the purser whenever we went outside anyway.

If you do disembark, you are required to take all carry-on baggage with you. They conduct a security sweep onboard the aircraft and will remove unclaimed bags. As is mentioned many times in this thread, KWA is the exception - as it's a US Army base you cannot get off unless ticketed to there. On our flight, we were requested not to take photographs but were allowed to look out the window. I didn't see anything terribly interesting.


Should I check my bags?

Yes. As annoying as it was to wait ~10 minutes for our bags in HNL, it was a lot less annoying than having to haul them around each stop, and find bin space again once on board.


What is the food situation?

Going east is a slightly different meal schedule than west. GUM-TKK and KSA-KWA are coded Snack, and MAJ-HNL is Dinner. The first and last meals are reasonably substantial in J (think like a Breakfast and Dinner code) and somewhat small in Y (somewhat less than a meal in int'l Y - was six pieces of fruit and a muffin in the morning, followed by a turkey sandwich for dinner). The middle snack was just a pass of the snack basket up front; neither of us sat in Y that segment but I would guess they just offered almonds. Additionally, every segment they were offering J pax some packaged almonds.

My general verdict is if going the distance in Y, pack some snacks or buy them at the stops along the way. If you're in J then there's enough food for 14 hours of sitting.


And how about IFE?

Look outside! That's actually about all the IFE there is. The GUM fleet has no WiFi and only DirecTV. Note that DirecTV does not work outside of CONUS, so really it just has the 8-10 looping movies of DirecTV (slightly different movie set for an Asian audience). The movie loop resets at each stop, so unless you want to watch the first 1h30 of a movie six times, there's not much use to the IFE. It is at least free in Y. I brought a book and read it for the middle 20 minutes of each segment and until I fell sleep on MAJ-HNL.


Can I get an upgrade on the Hopper?

Empirically, yes! We were offered upgrades of 11/12 eligible segments; I declined a GUM-TKK upgrade to keep my window, and my companion's MAJ-HNL upgrade was eaten by UA IT (agent in MAJ apologized profusely but understandably wasn't going to remove the already-handed-out upgrades to the next 2 pax on the list).

In order to have any shot, however, you need to be able to split the direct flight into six segments. This generally cannot be done on a mileage ticket or a paid through fare, and would need to be done via multi-city ticketing if visiting an island. In my case, I spent a very long time getting an extremely wonderful pmCO agent who was able to hack my ticket together with 9 connections on the way home. As this is also the only way to choose different views for the different approach directions, I recommend asking for this rather than for upgrades. It causes quite the headache for UA systems, but in the end I felt like it was a huge benefit to fly pretty much all of it in J. Absolutely something I credit to the value of being 1K: I was able to ring the 1K desk many times to get agents to deal with the various hiccups that came along with a PNR that had eight tickets and at one point 36 segments attached to it.

The first five Hopper segments (going east) are CPU eligible; MAJ/HNL requires a GPU. We had GPUs on our reservation and did a mixture of advance clearing and clearing at the gates in the islands (where amazingly enough they had the new J BPs waiting!).


Where to stay and what to do in GUM and HNL?

I think this depends on lot on which way you're going. Flying east, we arrived in GUM around 11pm (maximizing time in Tokyo, but not crazy enough for the 2am arrival), and spent the night at the Days Inn Tamuning. It was at the very bottom of my quality standards, but quite affordable and with 9h45 of total ground time all in the dark I did not want to pay double for a beachfront property I would never enjoy.

In HNL, I took up the excellent recommendation in this thread of the Best Western Plaza Honolulu. It was the cheapest of the few airport hotels in HNL. Having cleared customs by 3:45 (we arrived late), it was off to bed quickly. The arrival is only ~11pm Guam time, so I highly recommend going straight to a bed on arrival in HNL. Afterwards, we took advantage of the 24h connect rule to spend the whole day in HNL before continuing on home to SFO. We were pretty exhausted after another redeye home, but the beach time in Hawaii was well worth it, especially after being taunted by all the beautiful mid-Pacific islands.

Big Metal Bird Episode 8: Island Hopper - 2018
Originally Posted by COEWR2587 View Post
They just did a video in the Micronesia island hopper flight which is pretty interesting
https://youtu.be/TPueM5OF1Wc
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Old Nov 28, 17, 5:41 pm
  #526  
 
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Update: things are sort of fixed.
  1. They wouldn't split UA154 into separate segments.
  2. They tried to assign me different seats HNL-MAJ-KWA and KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM. The system wouldn't let them do that.
  3. They got a supervisor, who put me on UA132 KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM the day before HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA. This took an hour.
  4. I called back and now I am back on UA154 the whole way, in 3A up to Kosrae and in 3F on to Guam. This took ten minutes.
The net effect is that I am sitting in the "wrong" seat only for Kwajelein, and I get 398 extra miles (out of 977 theoretically possible)

The reason I got a cheaper fare than on united.com is because this priced as DCA-HNL-DCA, with the "return" from HNL being HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-NRT-ORD-DCA, United.com would only book this putting the fare break in Guam. The original fare is no longer available.

And findark is absolutely right -- United has no real interest in selling front cabin seats the whole way.

Last edited by Miles Ahead; Nov 28, 17 at 7:19 pm
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Old Nov 28, 17, 6:58 pm
  #527  
 
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
The reason I got a cheaper fare than on united.com is because this priced as DCA-HNL-DCA, with the "return" from HNL being HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-NRT-ORD-DCA, United.com would only book this putting the fare break in Guam. The original fare is no longer available.
It what?? Yeah, no wonder you got a better price then. Among the 19 other ways in which that would work out to be cheaper, that fare wouldn’t have the special surcharge for the Hopper.

To be clear — HNL-GUM-NRT-ORD-DCA is absolutely not a valid route on any HNL-DCA fare that I can find, for rather obvious reasons. :-) (It’s in the range of 150% longer than the nonstop distance).

Are you sure it didn’t price as WAS-HNL+HNL-NRT?
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Old Nov 28, 17, 7:18 pm
  #528  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
It what?? Yeah, no wonder you got a better price then. Among the 19 other ways in which that would work out to be cheaper, that fare wouldn’t have the special surcharge for the Hopper.
That's what they told me. (The agent who fixed the mess)

Here's the evidence:
  1. They told me that's how it priced, and that if I make any voluntary change, it will reprice with a break in GUM. The agent was trying to give me a stern talking-to, but it was hard with all the giggling.
  2. The DCA-HNL legs are listed as Fare Basis Z-something or other but Fare Class F; at HNL it switches to Fare Class Z
  3. When I bring it up on the app it says DCA -> HNL
  4. No Hopper surcharge - UA201 costs the same
  5. The cost is the same as DCA-HNL-DCA to within a few bucks (and DCA-NRT-DCA is thousands more)
So they might still be wrong, but my reaction was the same as yours. To quote Ralph Wiggum, "That's unpossible!"
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Old Nov 28, 17, 10:43 pm
  #529  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
It what?? Yeah, no wonder you got a better price then. Among the 19 other ways in which that would work out to be cheaper, that fare wouldn’t have the special surcharge for the Hopper.

To be clear — HNL-GUM-NRT-ORD-DCA is absolutely not a valid route on any HNL-DCA fare that I can find, for rather obvious reasons. :-) (It’s in the range of 150% longer than the nonstop distance).

Are you sure it didn’t price as WAS-HNL+HNL-NRT?
Not sure what the booking agent is saying, but the fare construction is almost certainly WAS-GUM-WAS (possibly with a fare break in CHI as ITA seems to like mid-continent fare breaks to save $100). There is a very respectable regular Z fare (Z1RWB) filed from pretty much every US city to GUM in the $1,600 to $2,000 (h/r/t) range, which allows extremely liberal routing:

Fare:


Code:
UNLIMITED FREE STOPOVERS PERMITTED ON THE PRICING
UNIT. 13 TRANSFERS PERMITTED IN EACH DIRECTION.
2 PERMITTED IN HKG/NAN/NGO/TYO IN EACH
DIRECTION
2 PERMITTED IN UNITED STATES IN EACH
DIRECTION
8 PERMITTED IN MICRONESIA IN EACH DIRECTION
1 PERMITTED IN CANADA IN EACH DIRECTION.
FARE BREAK SURFACE SECTORS NOT PERMITTED AND EMBEDDED
SURFACE SECTORS PERMITTED ON THE FARE COMPONENT.

Routing:


Code:
/VIA THE PACIFIC/
MAP CONSTRUCTED LEFT TO RIGHT AND RIGHT TO LEFT
1. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/DEN-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/
ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-TYO/NGO/HKG-GUM
2. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/CHI-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/
MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-TYO/NGO/HKG-GUM
3. WAS-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/
JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-TYO/NGO/HKG-GUM
4. WAS-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-
TYO/NGO/HKG-GUM
5. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/DEN-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/
ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-GUM
6. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/CHI-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/
MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-GUM
7. WAS-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/
JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-GUM
8. WAS-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-
GUM
9. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/DEN-TYO/SHA/SEL/OSA-GUM
10. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/CHI-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-TYO/SHA/SEL/OSA-
GUM
11. WAS-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-TYO/SHA/SEL/OSA-GUM
12. WAS-TYO/SHA/SEL/OSA-GUM
13. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/DEN-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/
ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM
14. WAS-WAS/NYC/EWR/CHI-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/
MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-
GUM
15. WAS-HOU/DEN-SFO/SEA/LAX-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/
JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM
16. WAS-HNL-WP/UA/HA-OGG/MKK/LNY/LIH/KOA/JHM/ITO-WP/UA/HA-HNL-
MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM

For some reason I really don't understand, ITA (and maybe an agency) is booking domestic segments into F when using that fare. As far as I can tell, .bomb will use Z on all components which is consistent with the rules I see:


Code:
>$LB29
029 WASGUM 30NOV17 UA USD 2006.00 Z1RWB STAY---/-- BK-Z
FARE CLS EXPLANATION BOOK CODES
-------- ---------------------- ----------
Z1RWB BUSINESS RESTRICTED FARES Z
Z1RWB APPLIES FOR ONE WAY FARES

BOOKING CODE EXCEPTIONS
VIA UA Z REQUIRED WHEN OFFERED Z- FARES BETWEEN
USA-CANADA
VIA UA Y REQUIRED Z- FARES BETWEEN USA-CANADA
VIA UA Z REQUIRED WHEN OFFERED Z- FARES WITHIN
USA
MICRONESIA
VIA UA Y REQUIRED Z- FARES WITHIN MICRONESIA
VIA UA Y REQUIRED Z- FARES WITHIN JAPAN
VIA UA Z REQUIRED Z- FARES

The actual challenge with the Hopper is inventory. When searched as HNL-GUM, there is basically never Z space, and only rarely D space. You can start playing with the segment marrying tool ("multi-city search") on .bomb to do some pretty creative things as they will sell down to almost last-seat P on the Hopper if you marry it correctly (OGG/LIH work well in my experience, as does breaking in an interior stop). It's very hard to see "true through" Hopper inventory, as no sane pricing engine is going to spit back an 8-10 stop routing for WAS-GUM.

I was considering going back to the islands and then coming home via Asia and the 77W on this fare, but am struggling with Hopper inventory (for one possible date, KWA-MAJ is J0, which is really messing me up).
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Old Nov 29, 17, 8:50 am
  #530  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
The actual challenge with the Hopper is inventory.
Agreed.

And is it possible the agent was sufficiently confused to have told me something untrue? Absolutely. After all, he booked me on an itinerary requiring a time machine.
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Old Nov 29, 17, 8:57 am
  #531  
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
Agreed.

And is it possible the agent was sufficiently confused to have told me something untrue? Absolutely. After all, he booked me on an itinerary requiring a time machine.
Well united.com showed me the other night that future past time travel is planned as part of their flight offerings. So the agent may have been aware of what will be possible later

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Old Nov 30, 17, 5:00 pm
  #532  
 
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Too bad it wasn't the other way around, most people would be thrilled with a free stopover
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Old Dec 3, 17, 4:39 pm
  #533  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Not sure what the booking agent is saying, but the fare construction is almost certainly WAS-GUM-WAS (possibly with a fare break in CHI as ITA seems to like mid-continent fare breaks to save $100). There is a very respectable regular Z fare (Z1RWB) filed from pretty much every US city to GUM in the $1,600 to $2,000 (h/r/t) range, which allows extremely liberal routing:

The actual challenge with the Hopper is inventory. When searched as HNL-GUM, there is basically never Z space, and only rarely D space. You can start playing with the segment marrying tool ("multi-city search") on .bomb to do some pretty creative things as they will sell down to almost last-seat P on the Hopper if you marry it correctly (OGG/LIH work well in my experience, as does breaking in an interior stop). It's very hard to see "true through" Hopper inventory, as no sane pricing engine is going to spit back an 8-10 stop routing for WAS-GUM.

I was considering going back to the islands and then coming home via Asia and the 77W on this fare, but am struggling with Hopper inventory (for one possible date, KWA-MAJ is J0, which is really messing me up).
I've actually managed to find EWR-HNL-(MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK)-GUM-NRT-EWR for $3755 rt in May, with stopovers in HNL and TYO all in Z — so there actually is inventory... now just debating if I should pull the trigger — lie-flat EWR-HNL and Polaris NRT-EWR is very tempting
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Old Dec 3, 17, 4:43 pm
  #534  
 
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Originally Posted by truncated View Post
I've actually managed to find EWR-HNL-(MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK)-GUM-NRT-EWR for $3755 rt in May, with stopovers in HNL and TYO all in Z — so there actually is inventory... now just debating if I should pull the trigger — lie-flat EWR-HNL and Polaris NRT-EWR is very tempting
Excellent fare!
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Old Dec 7, 17, 7:55 am
  #535  
 
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Hi. I think I read every post but am still confused. I will be doing this trip eastbound in first/business. I have my choice of any window seat other than 1A and 2A. I am in 1F now. Would 3A be better eastbound? Thanks!!
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Old Dec 7, 17, 9:32 am
  #536  
 
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Originally Posted by daisyatl View Post
Hi. I think I read every post but am still confused. I will be doing this trip eastbound in first/business. I have my choice of any window seat other than 1A and 2A. I am in 1F now. Would 3A be better eastbound? Thanks!!
Pls see findark's post 524 above. FWIW, I had 1F eastbound, and it was fantastic.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 10:07 am
  #537  
 
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Originally Posted by artvandalay View Post
Pls see findark's post 524 above. FWIW, I had 1F eastbound, and it was fantastic.
Thank you! I saw that post but saw westbound so did not read it in enough detail. I am holding 1F. I will stick with that. I also like bulkheads. With that said, if there is an empty row in back for the last long leg, I may try to grab it. I have downgraded myself a few times as I am small and a row of seats is more comfortable for me for sleeping than first class where the seats are not right against the wall.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 2:01 pm
  #538  
 
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Originally Posted by daisyatl View Post
Thank you! I saw that post but saw westbound so did not read it in enough detail. I am holding 1F. I will stick with that. I also like bulkheads. With that said, if there is an empty row in back for the last long leg, I may try to grab it. I have downgraded myself a few times as I am small and a row of seats is more comfortable for me for sleeping than first class where the seats are not right against the wall.
Yeah, if you cannot split the segments I would stick with the F side of the plane as on the eastbound flight the south-side islands (TKK, PNI, KSA) have better light.

In my experience, I prefer to treat MAJ-HNL as a late night flight rather than a redeye. It's scheduled to arrive at 10:50pm in your departure timezone, so getting a hotel in HNL is not that weird from a body clock perspective. Make sure you don't skip dinner on MAJ-HNL or you'll be hungry!
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Old Dec 7, 17, 2:12 pm
  #539  
 
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Yeah, if you cannot split the segments I would stick with the F side of the plane as on the eastbound flight the south-side islands (TKK, PNI, KSA) have better light.

In my experience, I prefer to treat MAJ-HNL as a late night flight rather than a redeye. It's scheduled to arrive at 10:50pm in your departure timezone, so getting a hotel in HNL is not that weird from a body clock perspective. Make sure you don't skip dinner on MAJ-HNL or you'll be hungry!
I actually can choose different seats for different segments. Should I switch sides for part of it? Only option is Row 3 as Rows 1 and 2 on the AB side are blocked.

I only have a 5 hour layover in HNL.

As for meals, I have to sort that out. I am vegan so I am guessing I need to pack some things. Maybe I can get a snack box but usually there are no vegan/special meal options unless I am on an international flight. I don't know that these segments are international?

Thank you.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 2:58 pm
  #540  
 
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Originally Posted by daisyatl View Post
I actually can choose different seats for different segments. Should I switch sides for part of it? Only option is Row 3 as Rows 1 and 2 on the AB side are blocked.
The wiki has a good summary, but for a cheatsheet I would fly on the F side for GUM-TKK-PNI-KSA and the A side for KWA-MAJ-HNL. KSA-KWA is a tossup because F is better in KSA and A in KWA. And since it will be full dark in MAJ anyway, if sleeping affects your seat preference I would take that seat on MAJ-HNL. Generally speaking, odds of a whole row in the back are poor but you never know; KWA-MAJ-HNL and vv tend to be the more heavily booked segments.

Originally Posted by daisyatl View Post
As for meals, I have to sort that out. I am vegan so I am guessing I need to pack some things. Maybe I can get a snack box but usually there are no vegan/special meal options unless I am on an international flight. I don't know that these segments are international?
Your reservation should say whether special meals are available, but I agree that I wouldn't count on them given the extreme space constraints onboard the Hopper. As I recall, there weren't any vegetarian options for either breakfast or dinner (the breakfast in Y was fruit and a muffin though), so you're probably right about packing food. Up front you'll get all-you-can-eat almonds and unlimited drinks, which can also go far in the calorie department.
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