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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 Jan 31, 19, 6:23 pm   -   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.

What is the Island Hopper schedule (as of 1/14/19)?
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 (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 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 Aug 12, 19, 5:52 pm
  #841  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by sexykitten7 View Post
I'm confused. Why would HNL-MAJ need a GPU? That's a direct and nonstop flight.
Because that's how UA wrote the rule.

Originally Posted by sexykitten7 View Post
Are you saying that none of the Island Hopper legs are CPUable?
The other legs are. HNL-MAJ is not.

Originally Posted by sexykitten7 View Post
Or are you saying that you can never be CPUed on multi-segment direct flights?
If you had a direct flight that didn't include HNL-MAJ, it would be CPU-eligible, but unless the legs are split, it'd need to clear as a unit, at least in advance. My experience with a domestic direct flight is that I still ended up on the upgrade list, but as findark pointed out, the entire thing was CPU-eligible in the first place, so it's a little different than HNL-PNI.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 7:02 pm
  #842  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 9,552
Right - the rule is anything crossing the boundary from North America to Oceana is a full GPU-only route, which includes HNL-MAJ (same rules as HNL-GUM). Every other actual segment of the Hopper is CPU-eligible.

These quirks are definitely known to the station agents; I got a bit of a talking-to from the MAJ GA when flying the split-segments Hopper with a GPU applied about how we "weren't really supposed to be eligible for this upgrade" [when flying direct over MAJ to HNL] as part of a supposed apology that the upgrade didn't clear despite being the only one on the list when leaving GUM (no real service or Internet since then).
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Old Aug 12, 19, 7:59 pm
  #843  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The other legs are. HNL-MAJ is not.
Originally Posted by findark View Post
Right - the rule is anything crossing the boundary from North America to Oceana is a full GPU-only route, which includes HNL-MAJ (same rules as HNL-GUM). Every other actual segment of the Hopper is CPU-eligible.
Ok wow. I never realized that. Thanks for the clarification! Does this rule happen to be posted anywhere? LOL

Edit: Oh I just realized that because HNL-MAJ crosses regions, it is not wholly in Oceania. GUM-TKK et al. are contained within Oceania and thus, CPUable. Makes sense. To me, they're all just islands in the stream...
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Last edited by sexykitten7; Aug 12, 19 at 8:03 pm Reason: Edit
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Old Aug 15, 19, 7:45 am
  #844  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: TPE, SFO
Posts: 60
Just returned from a brief trip built around the Hopper - so glad that we (mostly myself, kinda dragged my SO) did it. This thread had been immensely helpful in term of planning, especially answers from jsloan and findark. I'll extend below later with more information and pictures, but want to jog down the information when memory's still fresh.

Booking, upgrade and PNR:
  • Booking the ticket - booked a mix XN/I ticket as TPE-NGO-GUM-MAJ, MAJ-GUM, GUM-NGO-TPE, with TPE-NGO on X (BR), NGO-GUM on I and GUM-MAJ on I (waitlisted). The agent who helped me with the waitlist told me that as long as one of the segments (say PNI-KSA) has I space I can clear into that, which was not the case.
  • Splitting PNR - called about 5 times a few days before departure, all used the "different seats on different stops" reason. Some agents flatly told me that this can't be done ("It's like you want to different seats for the first and second parts of the flight"). Two of the agents who seemed to know how to do it told me that they would need to reissue the ticket, but XN is sold out on some of the legs (KWA-MAJ) so they couldn't reissue the ticket.
  • Selecting different seats - at T-22 the United app shows the check-in option (only available after selecting "change seat" as the first leg is on BR), and we were able to select different seats for different segments. We were able to snatch 7AB/8AB for most of the segments except GUM-TKK. Return was the same - check-in showed up when we arrive MAJ and were able to select front seats for most of the segments.
  • Clearing the waitlist - called premier desk when I space showed up in some segments, but was told that I can only clear when there is I space all the way. About T-72, we were moved to JI class waitlisted for the outbound and the waitlist disappeared altogether at T-48 or so. Called premier desk and was told that we were moved to the "standby upgrade list" and the list will clear before CPU.
  • Upgrading - no UA agent at TPE nor NGO, so I asked the check-in counter and UC agents about being on standby for business class. Both told me that only the gate agent can do something about it due to weight control. Gate agent at GUM told me that despite business seats available for several legs (all except KWA-MAJ), we can only upgrade if seats are available the whole way. On return, the check-in counter at MAJ told us that our names were not on any of the list and we should contact Mileage Plus service after completing the trip for a refund (we did get the miles back after the trip). Our names did show up on the in-app upgrade list for MAJ-KWA, but not on any other legs. We got individual BP for each segment, and the BPs we got at MAJ had "Added to upgrade standby list" printed on them but not the ones we got at GUM. Someone saying a gate agent upgraded them after seeing that text, but no such luck for us (actually nobody really checked BPs).
In-flight:
  • Where to sit - 7AF/8AF have unobstructed view, and 10AF is mostly fine (the window is misaligned a bit toward row 8 but not a problem at all). 11A is missing window but 11F has one. 1/3 of the view from 12AF would be the engine. 36AF/37AF has mostly unobstructed view (although the winglets are hard to avoid). The bulkhead at row 7 has opening at the bottom and therefore unlimited legroom. Row 38 has no recline. A and F seats have entertainment boxes that are about 10cm wide. I sat in 1A for NGO-GUM and the bulkhead was far enough that I could barely touch it. The flights were quite full and we only saw a good number of empty Y seats in PNI-KSA and KSA-KWA (the return was almost full all the way), definitely not possible to move around in the cabin. J had empty window seats in all segments except for KWA-MAJ and MAJ-KWA. Most people (if not everyone except us) on the flight were not for the view, and given how friendly everyone was, I wouldn't assume any issue exchanging seats with someone.
  • F&B: cupcake and fruits (eastward)/sandwich and fruit bar (westward) for GUM-TKK, drinks and almonds for TKK-PNI and KSA-KWA, drinks only for PNI-KSA, and just water for KWA-MAJ.
  • IFE: Power available in J and Y+ (not sure about exit rows). Flight map is partly functioning (showing location, altitude but not speed). The view was amazing so the lack of movie obviously didn't bother us, but the new Spiderman safety video got annoying after about 3 times (yes Oscar we got it must be some movie since United was in it...).
  • Bags: all bags that remain onboard at stops needed to be accounted for. The overhead bin got very full when group 5 was boarding and some of the bags were moved to bins in J.
Airport, Wi-Fi, passport stamps:
  • GUM - UC was one of the best I've been to recently. A lot of options (hot dishes and fruits and bar) and plenty of seating. The seats are probably not ideal for sleeping. Didn't check out the PP lounge. Managed to clear GE, got our bags and out of the airport within 10 minutes of landing both way. The security line got crazy long for our GUM-NGO flight (lots flights to Asia departs between 7-8am it seems).
  • TKK - we followed the arrival line and asked an immigration officer in the arrival hall about getting passport stamps. She took our passports to a booth and stamped them, but didn't date nor sign the stamps. There was a small vendor stall selling some drinks, instant noodles and local souvenir in the departure hall. Lady's room was not the cleanest but OK.
  • PNI - immigration officer told us we have to go through arrival to get the stamp, but suggested the airline staff might help us get them. We went to the departure hall and asked a UA ground staff. She took our passports and got them stamped, dated and signed. There is a restaurant (Neime) where Gate 2 (yes there is a Gate 2) is, selling burgers, fries, drinks and beer.
  • KSA - asked an immigration officer in the arrival hall. He took out the stamp from a booth, stamped our passports, signed and dated. The small vendor stall has drinks, some local pastry and the delicious banana chips, but the vendor told us she hasn't got tangerine for a week.
  • KWA - watching the plane getting fueled JP-5 by an Army tanker was quite interesting. No dismemberment for anyone (unless KWA is the destination) but the mechanic returned with some tangerine...
  • MAJ - didn't ask for passport stamp as we were turning around here. The immigration line was quite slow. There is a restaurant in the airport lobby (landside) that has amazing grilled tuna, and a small stall in the departure lobby. There is a post office right in the lobby so we managed to send some postcards.
  • Internet - open Wi-Fi available in PNI (The "VIP Lounge" has open Wi-Fi, and if you stand by the locked door to the VIP Lounge in the departure hall, the signal should be strong enough) and MAJ (courtesy of "Henry's Bar", accessible in most of the airport). Paid FSM Wi-Fi available in the three FSM airports. No Wi-Fi found in KWA. T-Mobile does not work in any of the islands between GUM and HNL, despite their support saying that domestic roaming is available on the "US Marshall Islands".
View from different seats:

1A (NGO-GUM)


7A (KWA-MAJ)


8A (TKK-GUM)


8F (KSA-PNI)


12F (PNI-TKK)


37F (MAJ-KWA)

Last edited by ithinkurdumb; Aug 17, 19 at 4:23 am
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Old Aug 15, 19, 10:23 am
  #845  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Programs: SQ, QF, UA, CO, DL
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Originally Posted by ithinkurdumb View Post
  • KWA - watching the plane getting fueled by an Army tanker was quite interesting. No dismemberment for everyone but the mechanic returned with some tangerine...
I am relieved to hear they have stopped dismembering all passengers in KWA!

Seriously, thanks so much for posting all this, it helps all of us contemplating this trip. I have only done part of it and need to find the time to do the complete flight one day.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 10:41 am
  #846  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 686
Originally Posted by md125 View Post
So here goes.

We really wanted to sightsee in Micronesia so rather than do the hopper with maybe just one short stop or straight through, we planned a two-week trip from our home on the US East Coast with several stops in a few of the islands. My sons love history (my older one is especially into WWI and WWII history), so we made that a theme of the trip. Goals were to see Pearl Harbor, War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam, the Ghost Fleet in Chuuk and any Japanese ruins we could find on several other islands, along with hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and other diversions that the islands offer.

My overall takeaway is that if you are going to stop anywhere, Kosrae is one of the most beautiful places on earth and it would be a real shame to skip it. There are fascinating sights on Chuuk and Pohnpei, Guam is worth some time too, but please do yourself a favor and try and spend a couple of days in Kosrae. You won't be disappointed!

Thanks for posting this very detailed report. Very helpful! (See post #827 - I didn't want to quote the entire report.)

Originally Posted by ithinkurdumb View Post
Just returned from a brief trip built around the Hopper - so glad that we (mostly myself, kinda dragged my SO) did it. This thread had been immensely helpful in term of planning, especially answers from jsloan and findark. I'll extend below later with more information and pictures, but want to jog down the information when memory's still fresh.
Thanks for posting - very helpful! (See post #844 - I didn't want to quote the whole post.)
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Aug 15, 19 at 7:13 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Aug 16, 19, 8:42 pm
  #847  
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 52
Originally Posted by ithinkurdumb View Post
  • T-Mobile does not work in any of the islands between GUM and HNL, despite their support saying that domestic roaming is available on the "US Marshall Islands".
)
Yeah, we flew west, and had stopped over for a few days in Pohnpei and Palau. No TMobile signal the whole trip. We arrive in Guam and are sitting around the airport, and suddenly our phones start blowing up with messages saying, "Caution! Your TMobile account reflects you have reached $50 of international data roaming", then a few minutes later: "Caution! Your TMobile account reflects you have reached $100 of international data roaming", Then again, "Caution! ..$200 ....", ...
We're saying to ourselves, "What the hell, TMobile?" Our phones haven't worked for the last week at all. So I actually call TMobile from Guam (20c/min) and ask and they say, "no, we don't see any charges accruing to your account. you're good." I never got charged the huge data roaming fees that the text messages suggested, thankfully, and I called TMob again when I got home to get them to take off the charge for the call from Guam (I was on hold for about 30 minutes).

Last edited by physics; Aug 16, 19 at 8:48 pm
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Old Aug 16, 19, 8:46 pm
  #848  
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 52
Replying to Ithinkurdumb:
Nice photos of the islands/atolls! I took photos of several other little islands that we overflew but didn't stop at, and had fun when I got back home figuring out where they were by matching the island shape in my photo with google maps and the approximate time on our rough flight path.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 11:30 pm
  #849  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Originally Posted by navigator4309 View Post
Thanks for the tip - that indeed looks like a pretty phenomenal way to spend a day, especially coming out of winter in Australia!



As noted, eastbound means it will be dark by Majuro, but it is what it is. I do like that going east means the longest segment is at the end, as I'll still be fresh for all the short hops in the morning. Having lived in a few places in the tropics, I also find mornings typically clearer than the afternoon as clouds and rain start to gather. Not sure if that applies here, but I'm doing my best to rationalise the compromise of Majuro being in the dark. In reality, though, it just didn't make sense to fly westbound as I'm using Alaska miles back to Australia and was able to get a 45K flight in J on Fiji Airways. I couldn't get either J-class redemption to and from the Hopper in a way that made sense going in reverse, so eastbound it is.

Incidentally, the flight back to Melbourne heads via Samoa and Fiji, so this adventure really is shaping up to be a pretty epic Pacific island hop!

Sad to report that the above trip meant to commence tomorrow will no longer go on, thanks to a broken tailbone (30 really feels like the new 80...). Fortunately, and unlike my current efforts to sit down, I was able to cancel relatively pain-free cost-wise as this was entirely an award ticket.

Not to be discouraged or able to stomach missing out on this bucket-list item, I've already replanned for May 2020, so thought I'd share the revised plans and tips from booking as I am certainly more savvy this time around thanks to this and other forums:

1) As before, I will plan to fly the full Hopper from Guam eastbound. Upon arrival in Honolulu, I will instead continue onto the US Mainland rather than fly straight back to Australia, as it's ultimately closer and more logical to build in the annual visit to some family starting from Hawaii rather than fly back to Melbourne and re-cross the Pacific both ways later in the year.

2) As before, I was able to get a Business Saver Award on UA.com in J from Melbourne - Guam for 40,000 miles, which remains the same as last year and still great value: MEL - SIN (A350 on SQ), SIN - NRT (B789 on NH), and then NRT - GUM (B738 on UA). The final segment on UA-metal is only available in Y at the moment, but I contacted their Twitter team who, within half an hour, had me waitlisted for any J space that opens up, so with any luck, that should clear before departure. Definitely do this if booking an award in J to position to or from Guam, as it seems from the calendar that a lot of Business Saver space on the GUM-NRT / NRT-GUM route only opens up closer to departure, whereas obviously it's ideal to have the long-hauls and Hopper booked and ready to go.

3) After spending two nights in Guam, I hoped to book the Hopper stopping at all five stops en route to HNL on a Friday and then continue to the US Mainland (SGU) on one ticket to keep the miles needed limited to just 35,000 in Y. However, UA.com declined to participate in this scheme and refused to offer the Hopper as an option for the GUM - HNL sector, instead offering either only the nonstop to HNL or a backtrack to Tokyo and then onwards to the US Mainland. Suspecting this had to do with the number of segments, I called UA (four times in total), and begrudgingly gave up only after an extremely helpful and committed pmCO agent tried so methodically to marry the segments together on one ticket that she seemed more personally invested than I was to making this pet project work and nonetheless still failed.

At that point, we instead decided to break the GUM - US Mainland sector into two so as to ensure the Hopper was an option without overblowing the number of segments. Any island a few stops in would work segment-wise and at the same mileage cost, while choosing HNL would significantly increase overall mileage required. I chose Kosrae as the would allow me to pre-select a seat on the first three segments on the usually-preferable right side of the plane and pre-select a seat on the left side for the second three segments on the usually-preferable left side. This required 12,500 for the intra-Micronesia sector and 35,000 for Kosrae to the US Mainland.

So - here's to 26 May 2020.
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Old Sep 9, 19, 8:07 am
  #850  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: ADL
Posts: 5,310
This is one of my all-time favourite awards on UA (25k back in the day, 40k now) especially with SIN-MEL-WLG upgraded to A350 (with award space too)
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