Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ahhhhhh, Hawai'i

For some reason, I could not check in online for my flight from Dallas to Anchorage. Probably a bad sign, huh? I know I said out loud, "I will probably be stuck in the middle seat for six hours." I also could not find out what terminal I was in. My flight was Alaska Air but "administered by" American Airlines. American has three terminals at DFW so Sarah and I took a guess and stopped at Terminal A. I asked the curbside check-in guy if I was in the right place, and of course, I wasn't. Luckily, Sarah waited for me and the dude at the curb said he could go ahead and check my bag. I told him it might be overweight so needed to see if I should take anything out. He said, "No problem, I will let you slide." He weighed it but I didn't see what the scale registered. I asked him what it was and he said, "Don't worry about it." I said, "I am traveling again tomorrow; do I need to take anything out?" He said, "Nahhhh, it's okay." I didn't really know if that meant it was 50 pounds or less (doubtful) or if he was just letting it go. Sarah drove me the good little distance over to Terminal D and we said our goodbyes--as always, sorry to leave but happy for a nice visit!

So I check in at a kiosk and, sure enough, I am assigned to a middle seat. I try to change it and there are supposedly no more seats available. An agent comes over and tells me I can try at the gate. I scurry off to Security, where it looks like a very short line, but it still takes forever because there are many families in front of me who are travelling internationally. Eventually, I get to my gate and ask if I can get out of the middle seat. The agent says, "No, there is nothing else." I whine and she says, "It's Alaska in the summer time, what do you expect?" Okay.....

She does move me to the middle seat in an exit row, for which I am excessively grateful. We board and there is a teenaged boy in my seat. I say, "Oh, I think I am supposed to be sitting there." He is with his sister and it looks like his dad is in front of him. The kid kinda looks at me, like he's trying to decide what he should do, and I ask, "Where is your seat?" He points to the AISLE seat across. I am giddy. I love the aisle seat. I ask, "Would you rather stay where you are?" He replies in the affirmative. He wants to sit with his family. I tell him he just made my day and I would be HAPPY to take his seat! We are both all smiles. Then some people in my row and the row in front of me all want to rearrange so we play musical chairs and I end up in the aisle seat one row up. Still an exit row, and more leg room. Sweet!

The flight from DFW to Anchorage is not six hours as I thought, but six hours and 45 minutes. Oh. my. goodness. I purposely chose a nonstop flight because that layover in Seattle gets to be a pain but I am beginning to wonder if I wouldn't have liked a little break. I settle in with my seatmates, who are not very friendly or chatty, and hunker down for the long flight. Could not sleep at all but read a lot and listened to some music. Soon, but not soon enough, we land in Anchorage and Rich is there to meet me. So glad to see my hubby after several weeks out! He has a room at the Millennium (priceline, of course), we have dinner at the hotel and get some rest. I am still on Texas time and exhausted!

Before we left Alaska, I'd called about getting First Class upgrades to our tickets to Honolulu, which is another long flight (a true 6 hours). I was told that we had to wait till the day of our flight and go to the airport in person because of the kind of tickets we had. Rich checked when he picked me up and was told he could do it online. So we tried to upgrade on the computer and got nowhere. I called Alaska Air and was told again that we need to do it in person. I called back to ask if Rich can go in by himself or if we both have to be present to make the change. The woman states that he can do it, but that our tickets are "not upgradeable" because they were bargain fares. I told her that we have already talked with at least three other people who have indicated that it would be no problem if we wanted to pay for the upgrade and do it the day of the flight. She gave me the lecture about how the rules are confusing and not everyone understands. She finally offered me a morsel of hope that "the agent at the airport has the authority to waive the restriction if he or she wants to." So we decide we will get up early and go to the airport, working on our spiel if it's needed. We hit Customer Service and have NO problem whatsoever getting our First Class upgrades for $150 each. Now that might sound like a lot, but our tickets were free so we were willing to pony up the cash for a comfortable ride. Hurrah!

Our flight was not till 2 PM so we went back to the hotel, had breakfast, and took our time packing up and checking out. Back to the airport and enjoyed a couple of hours in the Alaska Air Board Room, compliments of a free pass Rich had obtained. Comfy chairs, free lunch and drinks, internet, and quiet. Nice! Then off to our gate to line up in the First Class queue, feeling all smug and snooty. LOL Just kidding.

First Class is so nice, I have to admit. No middle seat! A complimentary hot meal on real plates with real silverware. A hot towel to wipe off our hands. Spoiled! Although I enjoyed it, I also felt like an imposter. :) How come some people are entitled to special treatment? Oh yeah, because they have money or can manipulate the system. :)

We arrived in Honolulu about 7 at night. More time change and I think I am still on Texas time, so I am really tired. We pricelined a room and got the Marriott Waikiki Resort and Spa. It's toward the end of Waikiki Beach so we decide to take a shuttle, not realizing that we were going to be riding for almost an hour and a half. We sat up front and heard the driver report in, "I have 14 stops." Yeah, and we were #13. At each place, he had to get out and get the passengers' luggage from under the bus. So it took for-freakin'-ever. We arrived at the Marriott just in time to see the tail end of the 4th of July fireworks over the water.

We have always had good luck with priceline. We swear by it! Never a crappy room. Some better than others, obviously, but nothing we've ever hated. At the fabulous Marriott Resort, we are assigned to Room 506. For the first time, we are UNHAPPY with priceline. It's a small room and our only view is this parking garage. Seriously. The cars are parked up against our window. Our curtains are sheer. I am sure people getting in their cars can watch us sleeping or getting dressed. :) Rich calls the front desk and asks if we can be reassigned to a higher floor. He's told that they are all full tonight but they will move us to the 19th floor tomorrow. Thankfully!

First morning in Honolulu, we are both on weird time schedules and wake up before 6 AM. We decide to take an early morning walk along the beach and grab some breakfast. It is so beautiful and sunny and warm. I just love Hawai'i! I could live here, no lie! We were told to check out by 11 to be reassigned so gather up our things and go downstairs. Our very patient front desk clerk wheels and deals with us and we finally agree to pay a little bit more to get a much nicer room on the 30th floor, bigger, and with a balcony. It's well worth it, still way under "rack rate" and here's our view (above).

After lunch, we hiked up Diamond Head. It was more strenuous than we expected, and very HOT outside. I love the heat, but even I was wishing for a cooler day. We did have some nice breezes in spots, which really saved me! We climbed 560 feet from the floor of the crater; most of the trail was not terribly steep but still got my heart rate up! Then we hit 74 steps, a 225 foot long semi-dark tunnel and 99 more steps before arriving at the spiral staircase (52 more steps) to the top. Whew!

Spiral staircase

View from the top

Rich taking photos

The city below
Lighthouse below

More shots from the top

Hot and sweaty!
After the hike, we returned to the hotel by way of the local market where we stocked up on fruit and drinks for the room. Although we enjoy eating out, everything is pretty pricey and I am not in favor of spending $40 for a small breakfast every day! We were going to upload photos when we realized that the new card reader I bought in Texas did not accommodate Rich's memory card. So off we go to the Ala Moana shopping center to buy a card reader and to have dinner at the Pineapple Room, one of famous chef Alan Wong's restaurants. This one is in Macy's and is his casual dining spot...we also made a reservation at his fancier place for Tuesday night. The Pineapple Room was nothing special. I had a side by side tasting of fish--talipia and mahi-mahi. It was okay, but nothing amazing. Rich could have made it much better and I am not just biased. :) He had a tasting of three types of tuna and couldn't even tell them apart. We were a little disappointed, especially for the price. We rode the trolley back to the hotel and cancelled our reservation for tonight. Think we will try something different!
The view from our room as dusk sets in.

Night time. Still busy and lots of hustle-bustle going on.
We were both awake before 5 AM today. I was kind of annoyed but then decided, it's vacation and I can take a nap any time I want, right? So I am blogging.....
Not sure what we are going to do today. It might be a lazy, hang around the beach kind of day. It's a little overcast but it's still early!


Suzassippi said...

Oh, golly--this sounds way better than Mississippi. :) Glad you are having a nice time so far--Randy sent you a message, but I can't relay it here. LOL Have fun!

tfp said...

That is one fine shirt Rich is wearing!