Welcome to Day 1 of Janet and Randy's Kauai Adventure 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Today was a travel day, so there wasn't much happening, other than spending a lot of time in airports and planes. This time we tried flying with a different airline (Alaska Air) to get to Kauai. I will be writing a separate trip reports for our flights - which can be accessed here once the reviews have been posted.
Our flight left at 1:40pm, and since we had to pre-clear U.S. customs, we decided to get to the airport 2 hours ahead of time. We had to check a bag, but we waited less than a minute in line for an agent. Keep in mind the Alaska Air (Horizon Air) flight is a Dash 8 that goes between Edmonton and Seattle. So at most there are 50 passengers. We then headed off to security, and then U.S. customs. We don't normally travel mid-day, so we weren't sure how busy it was going to be. Apparently, it isn't busy at all - as there was us and maybe 3 other people in the security and U.S. customs area. So, we were able to get through rather quickly. With our Nexus cards, we used the Global Entry kiosks, but then did have to declare the HP sauce that we were bringing for our friends Pat and Mike (as you have to declare any food you bring in). Ohps, I think had a chocolate bar that I didn't declare...
We had lots of time before our flight, and since we were hungry, we went to Wings restaurant for a sit down meal. There are no airline lounges in the U.S. departures terminal - which is where we would normally go for food. But, since Randy had a number of Air Canada food vouchers from cancelled/delayed flights in the past, we were able to use a couple of those to pay for our food. Note: the photo wasn't all of the vouchers I have either. Maybe I travel too much.
We ordered some dry ribs and an Asian chicken salad to share. The ribs were listed under appetizers, and cost $13.99. When the dish came out, there were a total of 6 ribs. Really?? Really Really ! Good thing we weren't paying for it. The salad was a good size, and the chicken in it was pretty good. I guess if a person is eating at a restaurant where most of the items on the menu is chicken wings - it might be best to stick to chicken items.
After our meal, we wandered over to our gate (which was nearby) and just hung out there until it was time to board the flight.
We were in row 2, and with the plane door open, it was a little chilly until they closed up and pushed back from the gate. The flight time was about 1 hour 45 minutes, but they didn't start the drink service until about an hour into the flight. There was a little bit of turbulence, but I didn't think it was that bad. Anyway, one nice thing about Alaska Air is that they will serve free beer and wine - even if you are in economy - Did someone say Free Beer ?? As our flight was with a regional connector (Horizon Air), there was only economy class on the plane. There is usually 1 type of beer, and a red and a white wine to choose from. The beer and wine are local brands from Washington state. Again Free Beer !!
The beer being served was a citrus IPA (don't remember the brand), so we both decided to try it. It was pretty good, but I did have a little of the IPA bitterness. The drinks were served with Cheez-It crackers. They were kind of on the tasteless side (very tasteless). We had barely finished our drinks when the plane was starting its final approach and the flight attendants were coming around to clean up. Arrived to overcast skies and 7 degrees Celsius in Seattle. Because we were on a little prop plane, deplaned on the tarmac and then walked up a ramp into Terminal C.
Just inside the (very crowded) terminal was the Alaska Air lounge, so we headed straight there. The lounge isn't overly big, and so there weren't a ton of seats available. But we did manage to find some corner seats overlooking the tarmac right next to the bar. The bar had some local beer on tap, so we both had some (Free) amber ale - which was much better than the beer we had on the plane. Our seats had some power outlets, so we charged up our phones a bit while we drank. The lounge didn't have a great selection of food (see more details in my blog), but we weren't that hungry anyway.
When originally looking into our flights, it looked like the flight to Lihue normally left out of the same terminal as where we arrive from Edmonton. However, while in the lounge, I noticed on the departure board that our flight was leaving out of a different terminal. So, we had to leave the lounge a little earlier to catch the train to the other terminal.
We arrived about 15 minutes before boarding started. We were originally assigned seats in different rows, but luckily the gentleman sitting next to me agreed to change places with Randy. Before departure, we were offered a drink of sparkling wine and POG (passion-orange-guava juice). It wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. I'm not complaining, again it was free. I think that the sparkling wine they were using was quite sweet, and combining that with the juice made the whole drink way too sweet. But, I liked that they were trying to get people in the Hawaiian mood.
The seats had really good leg room, but there is no built in entertainment system. They do have streaming entertainment that you can view on your own tablet/phone, or they offer pre-loaded Windows tablets that you can rent (in economy) or can have for free in first class.
One thing that was really interesting was that during the boarding process, the captain came out to chat to people in both first class and economy. He was explaining how we might get a bit of turbulence and that he was going to alter the flight plan to try to avoid most of it, and that we might even arrive early if there were some winds. He was very personable, and even chatted with us for a few minutes. The particular plane we were on was a one of a kind paint job. It was a high school student from Hawaii that his design was selected and the plane was painted with it. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to get out of the plane to get a photo of it.
We took off on time, and chased the sunset for about half of the flight. We were served a meal (more details in my blog). The best part of the meal was the Ghiradelli chocolate brownie. I think it was the best dessert I've ever had on a plane!
As the captain predicted, we ended up arriving in Lihue half an hour early. We did our usual thing - where Randy ran off to get the rental car (to beat the crowds), while I stayed to wait for the bag we had checked. Alaska has a policy that you get your bag within 20 minutes or they will give you some points, or a discount on a future trip. Our bag showed up after about 10 minutes. I went to wait at the curb, and Randy showed up about 10 minutes later. National Car rental doesn't have the same policy of X number of minutes. Even though the shuttle driver called my name into the station to say I was on the bus and coming in... my car was not ready for me.
We headed straight to our resort, as we were quite tired with the long day of travel and the time change. Randy's parents had been kind enough to drop off some fruit, rum and juice for us. But we were too tired to have a holiday arrival drink, so we unpacked and pretty much went straight to bed.
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