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The IRROPS saga of UA154 (Island Hopper) of Friday the 13th

The IRROPS saga of UA154 (Island Hopper) of Friday the 13th

Old Feb 17, 15, 5:04 pm
  #46  
 
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Originally Posted by DiverDave View Post
I flew the Island Hopper three times between 1997 and 2005, all HNL-KWA. (In 1997, it was a 727 and had the extra stop at Johnston Atoll.)

I recall the mechanic, but do not recall an extra set of pilots. Perhaps the rules changed in the past 10 years.
A 727 had a three-person crew so they could fly up to 12 hours in a duty period, without augmentation, while a two-person crew was limited to 8 hours.
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Old Feb 17, 15, 7:20 pm
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by LarryJ View Post
A 727 had a three-person crew so they could fly up to 12 hours in a duty period, without augmentation, while a two-person crew was limited to 8 hours.
But I don't remember extra crew on the 737s either. I wonder if they did crew changeovers at one of the stops in the middle. I never flew past KWA.

David
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Old Feb 17, 15, 7:31 pm
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
...
To sum it up in a sentence, I bought my Island Hopper itinerary looking forward to an adventure, and wow, did I ever get one, even if it was different than what I had expected. Hong Kong didn't happen, but I actually got to get out of the airport and explore parts of the world that are far harder for most to ever visit. I even got $150 in eCerts due to the overnight stranding in MAJ (was offered that or 7,500 award miles, the 1K in our group was offered a $200 eCert). Not sure if we'll get a similar offer for the TKK stranding, will update if I am offered.
Now UA will probably deduct some miles from the account for the additional adventure Thanks for sharing. This is way cool!
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Old Feb 17, 15, 7:35 pm
  #49  
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Originally Posted by DiverDave View Post
But I don't remember extra crew on the 737s either. I wonder if they did crew changeovers at one of the stops in the middle. I never flew past KWA.

David
The second pilot and copilot occupy two seats in BusinessFirst, first row left side.

The mechanic occupied the aisle seat on the left in the first row of the main cabin which is E+.

The International Service Manager (Purser) said the Island Hopper operates with a fifth flight attendant rather than the normal 4 for a 737-800, due to the much harder-than-usual nature of this flight, 14 hours with six segments, the last five of which are no more than 70 minutes of flying time apart.

Originally Posted by username View Post
Now UA will probably deduct some miles from the account for the additional adventure Thanks for sharing. This is way cool!
That reminds me - how do you go about asking for ORC? HKG would give me more miles than what I ended up having to do.

Some more photos, this time for the segments between MAJ and TKK (just no pictures of KWA as we were told they weren't allowed as it's an active military base):

Approaching KSA:


Flying over Mokil Atoll approaching PNI:


No taxiways at any of these airports, the plane just turns around at the end of the runway and taxis on the runway. After all, there's pretty much no other commercial air traffic besides the Island Hopper at most of these airports:


Landing in PNI:

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Feb 17, 15 at 9:51 pm
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Old Feb 17, 15, 8:05 pm
  #50  
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Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
The flight does have drop down screens with a movie HNL-MAJ and TV shows MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM. And the takeoffs and landings are spectacular, for the first and last 5 minutes at each stop. I sat on the right side of the plane and loved the views, just pick a seat without too much view obstruction from the wing.
Yeah, I didn't even really notice the IFE. I was either sleeping, watching the views, or listening to music while watching the views. I had the left side, A seat, though.

Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
The second pilot and copilot occupy two seats in BusinessFirst, first row left side. The mechanic occupied the aisle seat on the left in the first row of the main cabin which is E+.
Yep, 1A, 1B, and 7C are blocked. On our flight they had taken the white headrest cover thingy on 7C and wrote "CREW" with a black Sharpie.
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Old Feb 17, 15, 8:12 pm
  #51  
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Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
Yep, 1A, 1B, and 7C are blocked. On our flight they had taken the white headrest cover thingy on 7C and wrote "CREW" with a black Sharpie.
on 7C.
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Old Feb 17, 15, 8:22 pm
  #52  
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^^ Now that's fancy! (to the above picture)
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Old Feb 17, 15, 9:33 pm
  #53  
 
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Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
That reminds me - how do you go about asking for ORC? HKG would give me more miles than what I ended up having to do.
If you were credited with full fare Y, you might get more PQM, but the additional 25% RDM might help if you do not request for ORC.
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Old Feb 18, 15, 2:51 am
  #54  
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Originally Posted by Kmxu View Post
If you were credited with full fare Y, you might get more PQM, but the additional 25% RDM might help if you do not request for ORC.
Not quite sure I follow what you're saying.

My originally booked routing was IAD-SFO-HNL-(Island Hopper)-GUM-HKG-EWR-DCA. HNL-GUM quoted the nonstop number of miles when I booked online.

Due to the IRROPS my actual Butt-In-Seat routing was IAD-SFO-HNL-(Island Hopper with BPs reissued at MAJ and TKK)-GUM-NRT-IAD.

The original route via HKG would mean more miles as HKG is further than NRT, hence me wanting to see if I can get original routing credit.

I was in a deeply discounted economy fare class.

Last edited by aoumd; Feb 18, 15 at 2:58 am
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Old Feb 18, 15, 3:36 am
  #55  
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This might belong in a separate thread, but since so many of you mention the Island Hopper being on your bucket lists, given my experience here are my general tips for anyone planning a trip:

1. LOOK FOR THROUGH FARES TO ASIA TO LOWER YOUR FARE. United has a near-monopoly on mainland US to GUM travel, so book your flight with a connection to/from Asia. In my case, booking to HKG cut the fare in half vs. just going to GUM. However, be sure to book a city in Asia to which United flies daily from GUM, in case you misconnect. The fact United flies GUM-HKG less than daily is what did my trip to HKG in when we got stranded in MAJ overnight.

2. PACK SOME SNACKS AND ESSENTIALS FOR THE FLIGHT. Assuming you spend the night in HNL/Waikiki before the early morning Island Hopper flight, visit an ABC store (wherever you stay in Waikiki there's one walking distance away) to pick up some non-liquid, non-fresh fruit snacks for the flight. Also maybe a magazine or book to read so you won't deplete device battery if the IFE bores you on the stretches between islands. You also can buy breakfast items (banana, yogurt, canned coffee, etc.) if your hotel room has a fridge, since you'll need to check out before most hotels start breakfast service or restaurants open. Just be sure to finish liquids and fresh fruit before arriving at the airport.

3. PACK A SPARE PHONE/TABLET BATTERY. Charge it in your hotel room the night before the Island Hopper, along with all of your devices. This way you can use your e-reader, smartphone in airplane mode, etc. longer.

4. PACK A SMALL, REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE THAT FITS IN YOUR SEAT POCKET. It'll have to be empty going through HNL security to catch the Island Hopper, but there are water fountains near Gate 12 (coming out of HNL security, Gate 12 should be ahead of you. If you turn left and walk down the hall towards the Starbucks you should see the fountains immediately on the left).

5. When we caught the Island Hopper, Starbucks, Burger King and the HNL airport bookstore were open in HNL at 6 AM, pre-Island Hopper Boarding. If you need more food/drink/reading "reinforcements" post-security.

6. SELECT A WINDOW SEAT TOWARDS THE REAR A DAY OR TWO BEFORE DEPARTURE. I sat on the right side of the Island Hopper and was not disappointed by the views (I know this is a big area of debate). The front 10 rows of Economy tend to be "reserved seating" for groups or corporate/government blocks of seats and are unavailable to individual travelers. From when bookings open 10-11 months out until 2-3 days out, United posts a smaller 738 seat map, with fewer rows, than what will actually fly (erring on the side of caution as they don't know what type of 738 will be on the flight yet). 2-3 days out, when the specific bird is assigned to your flight, another couple of rows of seats open up at the rear of the plane. These seats tended to be the least crowded, so you have the best chance of a window seat with an empty middle seat next to you.

7. CHECK YOUR SUITCASE AND JUST BRING A BACKPACK ON BOARD. At any of the island stops you want to deplane in and walk around the airport of, you need to take ALL belongings with you. United agents sweep the overhead bins to match each bag with a passenger on board during the stop and take off any unattended bags. So check your suitcase, and just bring aboard a backpack with what you want on the flight (and maybe one change of clothes in case of IRROPS/bag issues, although in my case they offloaded checked bags when they realized we were stuck overnight). You can still use the overhead bin for the backpack if you want more legroom, just take what you want for each leg into the seat pocket in front of you.

8. BRING YOUR FULLY CHARGED CAMERA. The views into and out of each island are breathtaking. Just remember you can't take pictures during the stop at KWA as that's an active military facility.

9. RECOMMENDED READING: May 1998 issue of Airways magazine, its spread on Continental Micronesia and the Island Hopper. That's what put the Hopper on my bucket list.

10. BE PREPARED FOR A WEIRD LOOK WHEN THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT REALIZES YOU'RE GOING END-TO-END. Normal people fly the nonstop, we're not normal. This will probably come up just ater take off from HNL when the FAs pass out immigration forms for your destination, either the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia or Guam. Just explain it's a bucket list thing.

11. BE READY TO PACK ALL YOUR SEAT POCKET ITEMS INTO YOUR BACKPACK BEFORE APPROACH INTO AIRPORTS YOU WANT TO DEPLANE AND WALK AROUND IN. You need to take ALL items with you, including your belongings in the seat pocket. Best to do this before descending into the airport than eating up time on the ground doing so.

12. DON'T BOOK A TRANSPAC RETURN THAT WILL HAVE ISSUES IF YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR ASIAN DESTINATION A DAY LATE. With the Island Hopper, if you misconnect at GUM, you're likely not getting to your destination until a day later.

13. AVOID TRAVEL AROUND MAJOR ASIAN HOLIDAYS. GUM revolves around Asian tourism. Asian Holidays mean there is little to no hotel space in GUM if your flight arrives late and you need to stay somewhere until your flight the next day.

14. ENJOY! You've made an itinerary that will allow you to relax even if your flight is late enough to miss your connection (and GUM is actually a very nice place to spend the night). You won't have too much to carry up or down the stairs at each stop. You won't have to worry about your phone or E-reader's battery and you won't have to worry about food or drink. So just sit back, relax and enjoy your #avgeek adventure!

Last edited by aoumd; Feb 18, 15 at 4:54 pm Reason: Edits to #13 based on feedback from other experiences.
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Old Feb 18, 15, 4:01 am
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Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
That reminds me - how do you go about asking for ORC?
You would ask for it by calling the Mileage Plus service center number on the back of your elite card.

But United's policy when you end up on other United flights even due to IRROPS is to credit miles for flights actually flown regardless of the original ticket.

You might get some sympathy as the delay prevented you from getting to your original destination.
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Old Feb 18, 15, 4:16 am
  #57  
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
You would ask for it by calling the Mileage Plus service center number on the back of your elite card.

But United's policy when you end up on other United flights even due to IRROPS is to credit miles for flights actually flown regardless of the original ticket.

You might get some sympathy as the delay prevented you from getting to your original destination.
Thanks for the info. I'm a kettle so no elite card, but it looks like I wouldn't be able to get ORC anyway.
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Old Feb 18, 15, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by DiverDave View Post
I don't remember pulling down the shades, but there were armed guards walking around outside of the aircraft.
Just because they had big guns, it doesnt mean they actually had bullets. I've encountered that many times. But I guess you don't want to find out.

Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
...
2. PACK SOME SNACKS AND ESSENTIALS FOR THE FLIGHT.
...
4. PACK A SMALL, REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE THAT FITS IN YOUR SEAT
...
6. SELECT A WINDOW SEAT TOWARDS THE REAR A DAY OR TWO BEFORE DEPARTURE. ... The front 10 rows of Economy tend to be "reserved seating" for groups or corporate/government blocks of seats and are unavailable to individual travelers.
2. I take it that the food the provide you is not sufficient.
4. They don't even provide enough water?
6. So there is no e+ available? If I did the flight, I'd prob try to sit in F, although a GPU seems like a waste without lie-flat seating.

Originally Posted by aoumd View Post
Thanks for the info. I'm a kettle so no elite card, but it looks like I wouldn't be able to get ORC anyway.
GUM-NRT-IAD is about 2000mi less than your original GUM-HKG-EWR-DCA. so they should give you that. Plus they should give you the mi for the island hopper route and not the direct gum-hnl route (extra 500mi or so)

So if you got less than 19563mi total, you should contact MP to get the rest.

Make sure to mention they were all "involuntary" changes

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Feb 18, 15 at 9:09 pm Reason: 3x merge
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Old Feb 18, 15, 8:49 am
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Originally Posted by eng3 View Post
2. I take it that the food the provide you is not sufficient.
4. They don't even provide enough water?
6. So there is no e+ available? If I did the flight, I'd prob try to sit in F, although a GPU seems like a waste without lie-flat seating.
2. They served breakfast HNL-MAJ, and we're going to serve sandwiches at some point (but those wound up being served on the ground in MAJ due to the delay). The next day, after the delay, they served breakfast leaving MAJ, but nothing else until we got stuck in TKK (apparently they were going to try to load some sandwiches there for our last leg, but we wound up getting served on the ground during our long delay). Every other in-flight service was beverage cart only. You will get hungry at some point.

4. The service manager gave us a large bottle of water when he learned we were going to fly end to end, but I don't know if that was policy or if he just felt sorry for us. Normally, it's just a single pass of the drink cart. Remember, except for the HNL-MAJ segment, every flight is about 45 minutes to an hour long. Not much time to serve the plane. Also, except for MAJ, there is nothing available airside at any of the intermediate airports (MAJ has a little snack shop).

6. Row 7 (good legroom behind the F bulkhead) and the exit rows are the only E+ seats on the plane. The GUM-based 737s are still in their original Continental Micronesia layout.

Originally Posted by eng3 View Post
GUM-NRT-IAD is about 2000mi less than your original GUM-HKG-EWR-DCA. so they should give you that. Plus they should give you the mi for the island hopper route and not the direct gum-hnl route (extra 500mi or so)

So if you got less than 19563mi total, you should contact MP to get the rest.

Make sure to mention they were all "involuntary" changes
Since it's a direct flight, standard practice is to give the direct (i.e. nonstop) mileage. My UA154 ticket already posted with the 3800 or so HNL-GUM miles. Still waiting for the rest of the trip to post.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Feb 18, 15 at 9:10 pm Reason: multi-quote should be used
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Old Feb 18, 15, 9:17 am
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Originally Posted by rmadisonwi View Post
6. Row 7 (good legroom behind the F bulkhead) and the exit rows are the only E+ seats on the plane. The GUM-based 737s are still in their original Continental Micronesia layout.
Ah, I see. so very few E+ seats. I'd def go for row 7 if I couldnt be in F.

Originally Posted by rmadisonwi View Post
Since it's a direct flight, standard practice is to give the direct (i.e. nonstop) mileage. My UA154 ticket already posted with the 3800 or so HNL-GUM miles. Still waiting for the rest of the trip to post.
I know the UA site will display the direct mileage, but I thought you were suppose to get "flown" mileage. Its only a 500mi difference. I'd be more worried about the 2000mi. I'm sure what you flew will get posted but like someone else said, if they put you in Y, you'll have more miles with the 25% bonus.
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