After our stop at the Post Office, we got back to the airport around 4:30 for our 6:45pm flight on Island Air to Honolulu. As the taxi was taking us back she asked us who we would be flying to Honolulu. “Oh, Island Air? I would never fly them. They are always late.” Grrrreat. Given the light rain and heavy clouds, this wasn’t boding well.
Then, my phone pinged. It was the FlightTrack app alerting me we were now delayed until 8pm. UGH. I went straight to the Island Air counter to try and figure out what was going on. Seemed the plan was in Honolulu still. It was like pulling teeth, but eventually the agents admitted it was weather in Molokai preventing them from arriving. When we’d been through Honolulu the week before waiting on our flight to Kona, we heard the Island Air flight to Molokai getting delayed over and over…seemed this was a semi-regular occurrence.
I wasn’t overly convinced the flight would ever leave, so asked if they would sign us over to Mokulele Airlines instead. No, they wouldn’t, and regardless, all the flights on Mokulele were full. By chance, I asked the folks at Makani Kai if they had a flight. Yes, they did at 5:45. It was one-stop via Kalaupapa, and there were plenty of seats. Ugh, I wish there had been better info about this when I was exploring prior to the trip, because instead of coming back up to Moloka’i topside we could have flown straight from Kalaupapa to Honolulu! The agent was also enough to hold two seats for us, while we tried to get our baggage back from Island Air.
Island Air was completely unhelpful, telling us we just had to wait, and if the flight canceled maybe they could put us on a flight the next day. “You have non-refundable tickets, so you don’t have a choice. It might be tomorrow, if not, hopefully the next day.” At this point, I wasn’t trusting I was even getting honest information from them, and at $65 per ticket I resigned myself to just eating the cost. Tickets on Makani Kai were $50 plus $10 tax per person, which seemed to be a small price to pay to ensure I got to Honolulu that day.
Makani Kai confirmed us, and told us that we could “just pay when you get to Honolulu.” Wait, what?! Just then, the Makani Kai plane showed up, and turns out our friend Britney would be taking us to Honolulu! On top of it, they had realized down in Kalaupapa there was just one passenger on the Kalaupapa to Honolulu flight, so they brought him up to topside. It would be the same two pilots, the two of us, one guy from Kalaupapa, and one lady who already had a reservation. This was starting to feel like the twilight zone!
Makani Kai Airlines
Moloka’i (Topside) Hawaii (MKK) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL)
Depart 17:45, Arrive 18:15, Flight Time 30 minutes
Piper PA-31 Chieftan, Registration N135PB, Manufactured ???, Seat: Row 1 Portside
Britney told us to go ahead and take row one, so I took the same familiar seat one more time. The clouds were looking seriously ominous by now, and I wasn’t feeling super confident flying this little plane through some serious clouds. Had it not been for two previous flights in this plane with this crew, I might have been a little nervous.
When I asked how they could fly (and Mokulele in their Cessna) when Island Air was delaying, it was because the ATR they fly into Moloka’i doesn’t have GPS, and thus has to land with a visual approach. With low clouds, they were prohibited from operating. Seems that nearly half the time they end up canceling due to weather. Um, perhaps they should revisit the aircraft they fly?
Takeoff was smooth, but at about 2,200 feet (seeing the altimeter also comforted me) we started running into some serious cloud cover. Even as we kept going up to 6,000 feet, the clouds were throwing us around pretty good. That combined with the fact that I couldn’t see anything out the windows was a little unnerving. Several times it felt like we were dropping quite a bit, but the altimeter was telling the truth.
Eventually, we poked out of the clouds a slight bit:
After about 30 minutes in the air we were on approach to Honolulu:
We landed, and taxied not to the main terminal, not to the commuter terminal even, but to Makani Kai’s own private hanger: