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

Old Jun 30, 2016, 1:45 pm
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Last edit by: sonyeoshin
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.

What is the Island Hopper schedule (as of 2024)?
UA154 (the full Hopper) departs Mon/Fri and flies HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM.
UA155 (the full Hopper) departs Mon/Fri and flies GUM-TKK-PNI-KSA-KWA-MAJ-HNL.
UA132 departs Sun/Wed and flies HNL-MAJ-KWA-PNI-TKK-GUM (skips KSA).
UA133 departs Sun/Wed and flies GUM-TKK-PNI-KWA-MAJ-HNL (skips KSA).

UA193 (GUM-ROR-MNL) departs GUM on the evenings of Tue/Fri and flies GUM-ROR-MNL.

The Hopper arrives around 1800+1, so in order to do the entire flight without a stopover you would need to depart HNL on UA154 on Monday morning.


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.

You can also use WiFi in the terminal/transit area when you disembark and at some stops you can get your passport stamped. MAJ, PNI, and KSA have confirmed free WiFi. Passport stamps have been confirmed at PNI, KSA, TKK without "exiting" just ask security about getting a stamp at these 3 airports and they should be able to accommodate you.

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
They just did a video in the Micronesia island hopper flight which is pretty interesting
https://youtu.be/TPueM5OF1Wc
Print Wikipost

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

Old Dec 21, 2018, 9:24 am
  #766  
 
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We used Blue Lagoon in Chuuk and liked them. We stayed at Blue Lagoon.

Marshalls: We dived with Raycrew on Majuro. We stayed with Robert Reimers. We took a taxi from our hotel to where Raycrew is. The dive operation was run by a Japanese (IIRC), but we were the only divers. I think I had contacted them.

There is also a private island off Majuro, but it was awfully expensive.

If you are doing the Island Hopper, we got off at each stop and dived each island. I thought Pohnpei had the best diving.
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Old Dec 21, 2018, 10:31 am
  #767  
 
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Originally Posted by mpiotrow
Thanks [MENTION=8598]jsloan[/MENTION]I hadn't thought about the need to go through customs, because I was thinking of this being a GUM-HNL flight, and I believe you pre-clear customs on the direct flight, if I remember correctly.
On the nonstop GUM-HNL, you pre-clear immigration at GUM then customs at HNL after baggage claim. That's why there there are no GE or regular kiosks and everyone must do the blue form.

But the Island Hopper goes through two other countries outside the US, hence it is the usual international arrival at HNL--immigration and customs.
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Old Dec 21, 2018, 10:39 am
  #768  
 
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Originally Posted by HkCaGu
On the nonstop GUM-HNL, you pre-clear immigration at GUM then customs at HNL after baggage claim. That's why there there are no GE or regular kiosks and everyone must do the blue form.
Ahh yes, I remember that now! Isn't there some sort of agriculture declaration form that's specific to HI that must be filled out also?
Originally Posted by HkCaGu
But the Island Hopper goes through two other countries outside the US, hence it is the usual international arrival at HNL--immigration and customs.
So, just to be sure, if I check a bag in GUM, I will NEED to pick it up in HNL, whether I want to recheck it or not, correct? I just want to make sure it doesn't continue on without me being able to pick it up.
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Old Dec 21, 2018, 10:58 am
  #769  
 
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Originally Posted by mpiotrow
Ahh yes, I remember that now! Isn't there some sort of agriculture declaration form that's specific to HI that must be filled out also?
There are no state forms when USCBP lets you in to Hawaii.

Originally Posted by mpiotrow
So, just to be sure, if I check a bag in GUM, I will NEED to pick it up in HNL, whether I want to recheck it or not, correct? I just want to make sure it doesn't continue on without me being able to pick it up.
GUM-HNL or MAJ-HNL are just like most other international arrivals into the US. You must pick up to go through US customs and redeposit at the street exit.
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Old Jan 3, 2019, 2:02 pm
  #770  
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
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Does anyone know why UA133 on Sunday’s KSA-MAJ has ~40 seats held? Yet KSA-KWA doesn’t have any held seats... Does it have something to do with fueling locations & MTOW limits?
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Old Jan 3, 2019, 2:32 pm
  #771  
 
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Originally Posted by ordual
Does anyone know why UA133 on Sunday’s KSA-MAJ has ~40 seats held? Yet KSA-KWA doesn’t have any held seats... Does it have something to do with fueling locations & MTOW limits?
Could be heavy cargo.
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Old Jan 4, 2019, 3:00 pm
  #772  
 
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I'm looking for recommendations on what equipment has provided the best results when taking photos and video while on this route. I'm doing it in a few weeks and have seat 7F. My plan is to use my GoPro for video and DSLR for photos, but am torn on the best lens to use. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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Old Jan 4, 2019, 6:08 pm
  #773  
 
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Originally Posted by alifesjourneys
I'm looking for recommendations on what equipment has provided the best results when taking photos and video while on this route. I'm doing it in a few weeks and have seat 7F. My plan is to use my GoPro for video and DSLR for photos, but am torn on the best lens to use. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Hello. With all of your photographic preplanning, I hope you are not ultimately disappointed
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Old Jan 7, 2019, 6:21 pm
  #774  
 
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Lots of details...

Having taken the “island hopper” very extensively over Christmas, I have some thoughts to share with everyone. I stopped on every island, so I’ll also cover my thoughts on each one slightly lower.
  1. Economy really isn’t bad. Except the first flight (westbound) the other segments are short, and First just gets a snack and free booze. I had a row to myself (exit row or forward E+) for each flight, even as a measly *G, just based on asking.
  2. There is WiFi for free at MAJ (from parking ramp even, limited to 30 min approx), KWA (in terminal), PNI (in terminal), but not in KSA or TKK.
  3. Passport stamps are super-easy in KSA, PNI, TKK - there is an agent at the entrance to the terminal collecting passports of those who want a stamp. Don’t need to fill out forms. MAJ stamped the passports of those I met, but they did so reluctantly and I have heard of denials.
  4. You CANNOT get off in KWA, I don’t know why people even ask. Having disembarked there, I know that the arrivals shed is a completely different building than the departures shed. Pictures ban is loosely enforced IME, even locals were taking pictures/videos. Just don’t be obvious.
  5. Sitting on the right will usually get you an overview of the island, especially if there’s the wind, which blows West (so landing East). But in summer (doldrums) you may land straight-on. Frankly I didn’t find it to make such a huge difference, but that’s perhaps because I got off at every spot so my tourist experience was not limited only to porthole-tourism.
  6. If you’re flying through, you MUST have your itinerary split if you want upgrades on individual segments. I don’t know why sometimes you get one boarding pass and sometimes multiple - for a direct journey HNL MAJ KWA I got two and for KSA PNI TKK I got one…
  7. Definitely bring your own IFE - after the HNL-MAJ flight no opportunity to see a complete movie!
  8. Bring your own food, too. Each flight was around lunchtime for me, and there is no food other than HNL-MAJ.
  9. Best souvenirs IMO were in KSA, because you could buy locally-made Banana Chips, green clementines (mmmm!), postcards, etc. In MAJ there is a lot of palm leaf weaving and in PNI there are the traditional Pohnpeian skirts. Landside MAJ has a post office!
Some more details on each airport and idiosyncrasies if flying segments individually:
  1. MAJ has a 90 minute checkin cutoff and KWA has a 2 hour checkin cutoff - this is not published anywhere but seems to be “common knowledge” on the islands. Other islands follow the standard 60 min, though in TKK on the “mini-hopper” (which flies GUM-TKK-PNI and back) we were onboard and departed 30 min early. Try to ask around!
  2. No OLCI for HNL, MAJ, PNI - but it worked for KSA. So who knows, worth trying, but it really doesn't change much. Most airports are arranged - checkin, boarding scan, security, holding pen. So if they close check-in, they also close boarding.
  3. TKK has an unlocked and oddly-named WiFi network in the arrivals hall, but otherwise there is just the state-owned telco wifi which is paid.
  4. KSA and TKK search luggage by hand - haven’t seen that in a long time. Be prepared that they notice something odd that the X-ray wouldn’t pick up and give you a little bit of hassle. FWIW they also search checked luggage by hand.
  5. Basically, as the FF’s told me, you actually don’t need to fill out an arrival form at all… but to make life easier (in case of a grumpy agent), you should for your first point of entry into that particular country. Flying domestic sixth-freedom you just tell the agent that you flew in from XXX and they cross-reference a printed list. They don’t stamp your passport, but will if you ask.
Now onto a few words about the individual islands:

MAJ

Very flat but doesn’t feel as small as it does on a map or upon landing. It’s a fair distance into town from the airport, and the island is actually quite long. There isn’t very much to see or do. Two hotels - Robert Reimers or Marshall Island Resort. FWIW, UA crew stays at RR, which is in the “centre of town” (see above - not much there). MIR has rooms all facing the water, and is a very big hotel, felt the most “normal” out of the hotels I visited on this trip; best restaurant on the island, too. Hot water under the shower, none in the tap. RR rooms don’t have a view, and are much more like a hostel. Crews stay in waterfront bungalows. WiFi on MAJ is expensive, $10/500MB, but fast. Taxis are $1 per person for a journey in town. People mention the dogs - they generally won’t attack unless provoked or presented with an unusual situation. If you’re just walking during the day, there shouldn’t be an issue, they’re quite friendly, but a friend was attacked on a bike at night and got a pretty nasty bite. If you stay for longer, there’s Arno Island (run by the RR hotel) which is quite charming and a unique experience.

KWA

I was really excited for this one. Nearly no tourism to Ebeye, which is what a civilian can visit from this airport. There is 0 info online about how to get from KWA to Ebeye, other than that there’s a ferry. So, this is how it works. Upon landing, you are taken into a room that feels like summer camp. Lots of military personnel, obviously. Bags need to be placed on a yellow line drawn on the floor, there are rows of seats. At the back is the Marshallese customs official, I went there and gave them my passport. Was told to sit down. The person in charge told us the order of things - those with a military badge; those with a orange card (locals access programme); those with orders; those visiting the base; and finally I was left with a lone Marshallese who obviously wasn’t eligible for the local access programme card. Got my passport back (no stamp!!) and was taken by the military into a van. Drove a little ways for the Marshallese to pick up his bags at what passes for a terminal on this island, then continued to the ferry dock. Got checked “out” of the island and was confined to the little ferry terminal - normally there is an American Diner serving some grub, but since it was Christmas Day (yes, yes) it was closed. The next ferry wasn’t for a few hours so it was just a matter of waiting here. Bags are x-rayed, then you walk down the jetty to the boat, a beautiful vessel belonging to the US Army. Christmas Day was unusually busy, and it was rather full of people and luggage. The journey took about 20 minutes, with some nice views of the atoll, and I walked to the Hotel Ebeye, which is the only accommodation on Ebeye. Booking it was a fun experience, the phone connection was terrible (and expensive!) and I never got the promised email, so I asked the MIR to contact the hotel for me and reconfirm - turns out MIR owns Hotel Ebeye, so if you want to go, through them is probably the easiest way to book. 80 USD for a substandard room, no hot water, shower head didn’t work, AC did, had no water for the majority of my stay, there was a list at the check-in listing the value of items if stolen (chair - $20). The TV was a fascinating experience, as it picked up AFN (American Forces Network), and instead of ads, there was a sort of “propaganda” (we keep our country safe, we are so appreciated) and “PSAs” (keep alert, see something, say something, don’t intrude on your neighbours privacy) relating exclusively to the military. I had a fantastic time on the island though. They are famous for their Christmas dances and celebrations, and it was an absolutely blast seeing the locals dance, sing, and enjoy Christmas Day in a unique way. I was treated with such friendliness and respect and a little curiosity, which I think has to do both with the locals incredible kindness and the fact that I was mistaken for a member of the military, upon which they rather depend for employment. There were a few base-dwellers who came to Ebeye to witness the spectacle, I spoke with some, and they also did some shopping (toaster oven) - apparently hard to get on Kwaj!? Otherwise there is really nothing to do, other than walk, take pictures of the kids (they all want pictures, and very few also ask you for money). Snorkelling might be good but the locals have dumped so much trash into the waters surrounding the island that I would not find it fun (even though they are crystal clear). Luckily the hotel restaurant recently reopened, because food options are severely limited, though the food merits no description. There is a Triple J’s (supermarket) run by an American from Florida which is the only true supermarket - it has enough packaged foods & drinks to keep you going. There is also a Chinese convenience store selling, as usual, absolutely everything, and three Chinese who own and run the thing (wow!). Walked around the whole island, looked at the churches, admired the locals driving around their tiny island in their big cars, and walked a significant part of the causeway built to connect Ebeye to other islands of the atoll, with the hope that it would reduce congestion (it didn’t really work). A more important task was to resolve my method of departure for the next day. I asked around about the ferry schedule, nobody seemed to know (surprising, considering a majority of the population works on the Kwaj base!). Met an arriving ferry crew and the American crew member said he didn’t know. Checked with somebody working on the docks, nope. Went back the next morning and a local guy working on the ship told me that the ferries ran at 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm, but for my 5:45 pm flight I needed to take the one at 12:00 pm. Not being in the mood to willingly confine myself to either the ferry terminal or the airport terminal on Kwaj for five hours, I decided that I knew better and took the 3:00 pm. After being lightly chastised (don’t you know you’re supposed to take the 12:00 pm?!) at the Kwaj ferry terminal, the guy drove me expeditiously to the airport terminal, I checked in, and the counter closed. Everybody else had been better-behaved and was already camped in the small terminal, which had no amenities except a few vending machines, a small display about the history of Kwaj in WWII (including a bunch of Coca-Cola bottles), and FREE WIFI! After the super-expensive WiFi on Ebeye (same as MAJ) this was a great way to pass the time. I did get a stamp this time, US Military Kwajalein, Dec 26 2018. Now that's a precious one!

KSA

To me, the most beautiful island, and the one that offers a beautiful balance between beaches, lush vegetation, true local flair… I stayed at the Pacific Tree Lodge, cannot recommend it enough. Very simple but everything worked (free, very slow WiFi) and the beach was right across the street. Not much “history” to see but there are hikes, swims, paddles, etc. that will keep you occupied.

PNI

The most “civilized” island. Stayed near Kolonia, the “big city”, at the Mangrove Bay (probably the best hotel). Great sushi restaurant adjacent. The Nan Madol ruins are amazing. The ring road is more interesting on the East side, FWIW.

TKK

Ugh. If you’re not diving, don’t come here. On approach, it was the most beautiful place - many islands ringed by an atoll, so idyllic. But upon landing, it was dirty, unkept, and seemed, as the only island from those I visited, to be dangerous. The Blue Lagoon is the place to stay. Don’t even think about Truk Stop or High Tide. I’m serious. The Blue Lagoon is a fenced and gated compound (was very surprised to see the gates pulling up) and the rooms are dated but practical. The grounds look grand and tropical - what the rest of the island could look like. WiFi is free in the lobby around (meet new friends while getting your internet fix). Even on the hotel compound there were a few shady/interesting locals wandering about, but at least it was in a confined space.

GUM

Bonus - I know many people aren’t hugely enthusiastic about Guam, but I quite liked it, found it to be fascinating to be in the USA so close to Asia, and to drive around on the very good roads, go window shopping in a mall that is straight out of Asia, and enjoyed the Hyatt - nice beach, good club, etc. As a mainlander you are the stranger there (and I say that as a Canadian).

---

I should add that on every stop (with the exception of KWA, for lack of foreigners, and TKK, because I didn't dive) I met some very interesting people. An older lady on KSA who is moving to FUT (yes, look it up) and couldn't believe that I knew where it was and that I had visited. A few country-counters, of course, some extensive travellers. This may have been the best part of the trip!

Feel free to PM if you need some more info or contacts!

Edit: forgot to add, every airport except KWA charges a departure fee, $20 except KSA, $15. You should have USD cash in case you're stopping on these islands in any case (cash is king, no CC's), payment is after checkin and next to immigration.
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Last edited by jlisi984; Jan 8, 2019 at 12:14 pm Reason: Forgot to add departure fee info
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 7:48 pm
  #775  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Originally Posted by findark
R (now PZ) is extremely rare for the through flight HNL-GUM. You need to either natively book separate segments (use multi-city tool, but might be expensive) or get an agent to split them (very, very difficult) to be eligible to clear on a per-segment basis. If you can succeed at this, KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK are trivial and usually fly with empty seats, and MAJ-KWA, TKK-GUM, and HNL-MAJ can be tricky (in increasing order of difficulty). Even with separate segments, the interior segments rarely clear far in advance because there are heavy inventory blocks on those segments to hold space for through pax. Note if HNL is less than 24h00 and you're smooth with an agent, one GPU will cover PHL to MNL.

Depending on your price tolerance and ability and building fares, I would also look at the regular Z fare between the US and GUM ($3,300 to $4,300 depending on US origin). If you have time, it also allows unlimited stopovers so you can visit as many of those islands as you like.
Is this like other flights on UA, the only way for HNL-GUM to show PZ>0 would be if every segment had PZ>0? But if I book HNL-GUM with PZ=0 and apply a GPU, I still will not be eligible to upgrade each segment?
I am flexible on dates, it's just finding dates that allow my GPUs to clear in advance and spaced a week apart.

Also if I recall, not every segment runs every day. What is the schedule for each segment? From doing manual searches on the UA site, it seems that if I want a stop at ROR to MNL, my only option is to fly on a Friday.

Last edited by eng3; Jan 13, 2019 at 8:54 pm
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 8:50 pm
  #776  
 
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awesome report jlisi984 I am on it eastbound next week and am looking forward to it, thanks!!
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 9:09 pm
  #777  
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Originally Posted by eng3
Is this like other flights on UA, the only way for HNL-GUM to show PZ>0 would be if every segment had PZ>0? But if I book HNL-GUM with PZ=0 and apply a GPU, I still will not be eligible to upgrade each segment?
I am flexible on dates, it's just finding dates that allow my GPUs to clear in advance and spaced a week apart.
No. HNL-GUM gets booked as a direct flight, which means there are no separate segments in the record to clear. Unless you natively book separate segments (requires multi-city tool and a fare which allows the routing), or get an agent to reissue the ticket with separate segments post-purchase (this technically violates the rules; I managed this but it took over four hours on the phone and all my agent-charming skills) you record will show a single segment from HNL to GUM and you cannot be upgraded unless the through flight shows PZ space. I that case, you will not be eligible for the upgrade standby list of any of the flights, either.

Originally Posted by eng3
Also if I recall, not every segment runs every day. What is the schedule for each segment? From doing manual searches on the UA site, it seems that if I want a stop at ROR to MNL, my only option is to fly on a Friday.
UA154 (the full Hopper) departs HNL Mon/Fri and flies HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM. The shorter UA154 flies from HNL on Wed and does HNL-MAJ-KWA-PNI-TKK-GUM (skips KSA). UA132 departs Sun and flies HNL-MAJ-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM (skips KWA).

UA193 departs GUM on the evenings of Tue/Fri and flies GUM-ROR-MNL. The Hopper arrives around 1800+1, so in order to do the entire flight without a stopover you would need to depart HNL on UA154 on Monday morning.
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Old Jan 13, 2019, 11:07 pm
  #778  
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Originally Posted by eng3
Is this like other flights on UA, the only way for HNL-GUM to show PZ>0 would be if every segment had PZ>0? But if I book HNL-GUM with PZ=0 and apply a GPU, I still will not be eligible to upgrade each segment?
I am flexible on dates, it's just finding dates that allow my GPUs to clear in advance and spaced a week apart....
Direct flights, such as the Island Hopper is normally booked, creates a difficult upgrade issue. When booked as a direct flight the individual segments will not clear in advance, it is all or none. Day of travel the individual segments can clear but before -- all or nothing.

The only way around this is to book individual segments (and typically a much higher fare)
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Old Jan 14, 2019, 5:35 am
  #779  
 
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Originally Posted by findark
No. HNL-GUM gets booked as a direct flight, which means there are no separate segments in the record to clear. Unless you natively book separate segments (requires multi-city tool and a fare which allows the routing), or get an agent to reissue the ticket with separate segments post-purchase (this technically violates the rules; I managed this but it took over four hours on the phone and all my agent-charming skills) you record will show a single segment from HNL to GUM and you cannot be upgraded unless the through flight shows PZ space. I that case, you will not be eligible for the upgrade standby list of any of the flights, either.
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Direct flights, such as the Island Hopper is normally booked, creates a difficult upgrade issue. When booked as a direct flight the individual segments will not clear in advance, it is all or none. Day of travel the individual segments can clear but before -- all or nothing.

The only way around this is to book individual segments (and typically a much higher fare)
AH, a direct flight. ok, I understand now. all or none.

I hear it is difficult/nearly impossible to get an agent to split the direct flight, why would an agent do this in the first place? wouldn't they want to re-fare to (as-if you booked each segment separately)? Wouldn't that be equiv to having the agent make the initial booking and asking for each segment to be separate?


Originally Posted by findark
UA154 (the full Hopper) departs HNL Mon/Fri and flies HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM. The shorter UA154 flies from HNL on Wed and does HNL-MAJ-KWA-PNI-TKK-GUM (skips KSA). UA132 departs Sun and flies HNL-MAJ-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM (skips KWA).

UA193 departs GUM on the evenings of Tue/Fri and flies GUM-ROR-MNL. The Hopper arrives around 1800+1, so in order to do the entire flight without a stopover you would need to depart HNL on UA154 on Monday morning.
Thanks for the info, I think I'll add it to the WIKI
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Old Jan 14, 2019, 7:29 am
  #780  
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Originally Posted by eng3
I hear it is difficult/nearly impossible to get an agent to split the direct flight, why would an agent do this in the first place? wouldn't they want to re-fare to (as-if you booked each segment separately)? Wouldn't that be equiv to having the agent make the initial booking and asking for each segment to be separate?
An agent might do it because it's the only way to get an advanced seat assignment that varies from one leg to the next (e.g., for the best views). Or, an agent might do it because it's the only way to get CPUs. It really depends upon the agent's mood and how persuasive you can be when you ask.

But, you're right. The simple approach would involve adding a transfer at each intermediate point, which is almost certain to violate the fare rules on any inexpensive fare, and would be the same price you got if you were able to book it that way from the start. The agent would have to store the fare and then force it to apply to an itinerary that's not technically valid. It's doable, but it's a hassle, and many agents don't want to bother.
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