I don’t often find myself sprinting through the airport. Yes, it has happened a few times, but generally I try to arrive to the airport with plenty of time to make my flight. Yes, having airport lounge access and the fact that I can work from anywhere make it so being at the airport an hour or two early isn’t much of an inconvenience at all, though I do sometimes feel like I am wasting days of my life in airports.
Recently, however, I found myself sprinting through the airport and even got to be one of “those” people that gets paged over the airport intercom.
Setting the Background
As many of you know, I affiliate myself with the Extra-Miler Club whose members are trying to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States. The club’s motto is “the shortest distance between two points is no fun”. While my family was in Hawaii for a family vacation, my son and I took one day to try to visit every county in Hawaii. Since we wanted to minimize the time that we were away from the rest of the fam, we decided to try and do it all in one day.
Our scheduled itinerary was as follows:
Kahului (OGG) – Kona (KOA) 7:10 7:59
Kona (KOA) – Lihue (LIH) 8:45 9:36
Lihue (LIH) – Honolulu (HNL) 12:30 13:10
Honolulu (HNL) – Kalaupapa (LUP) – Molokai (MKK) 14:30 15:34
Molokai (MKK) – Kahului (OGG) 19:30 20:00
Starting Off From Maui
Our first flight was on Mokulele Airways going from Kahului / Maui (OGG) (Maui County) to the Big Island (Hawaii County) and the city of Kona (KOA). Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:10 a.m. though checking Flightaware the night before showed it scheduled as a 7:23 departure.
We got a bit lost when we arrived at the Kahului Airport as my wife dropped us off at the main terminal and I could not find Mokulele Airways anywhere. I asked a Southwest ticketing agent who was helping passengers and she said that they fly out of the Commuter Terminal, and vaguely pointed and gave directions. I called my wife quickly and thankfully she hadn’t left yet, so we got back in the car and drove (in the dark) in the basic direction indicated. We got a little further and found a taxi stand. I asked the taxi drivers and they continued to make vague hand-waving motions, but we eventually found it.
Like I assume most commuter terminals, it was basically just one building with a few seats. We checked into our flight, they asked us how much we weighed and told us to have a seat. There were already quite a few passengers sitting down. I checked FlightAware again for the upcoming departures scheduled for Mokulele from OGG and there were 3 other flights scheduled before ours that still hadn’t left. That didn’t give me a lot of confidence in making our already tight connection. They eventually announced our boarding at around 7:30 (while one of the 6am flights to Molokai was still waiting). Like with most commuter airlines, the gate agent just lined us up and sent us out to the tarmac, where we boarded our small Cessna
I was starting to feel a bit nervous, as I knew that we already had a tight connection (46 minutes) and this was going to make it even tighter. Plus, our connecting flight was on a different airline (Hawaiian Airlines), so they didn’t know we were coming (and I had no way to let them know)
This was the one flight / connection that I was most nervous about when we booked the tickets, but there was not another good way to get all the flights in one day. I was starting to research backup plans if we missed our connection. It was possible that we might be able to still make visiting all the counties in one day happen, but at a worst case, we might have to miss out on Lihue (Kauai County).
Landing in Kona
The flight was scheduled to take 45 minutes, but I think there must have been some sort of in-air delay, as we didn’t end up landing until 8:27. Over the course of the day, I also found that FlightAware does not seem to completely and accurately track Southern Airways / Mokulele Airlines flights, but this is what it showed.
As we taxied, I saw a few Hawaiian Airlines planes at the terminal (including a few that looked like they were actively boarding!) but tragically we passed them and went to the commuter terminal. I had looked up the Kona airport map on the ground and it said that the commuter terminal and Terminals 1 and 2 were close, but when we got onto the tarmac and out of the secure area, I asked our pilot. He told me that Terminal 2 was about a 10 minute walk down the road. Keep in mind it’s now about 8:30 and our flight is scheduled to take off at 8:45 (!)
So we started running as fast as we could (which was not incredibly fast). Thankfully my son did a year of cross country and while he was never an amazing runner, at least he kept up with me with no problem. I don’t think I could have done this with my wife or any of my other kids. To give you an idea of the scale, here’s a map of the commuter terminal and main terminal, with the distance marked via Google Maps. So it was about a half mile run
Rushing through Security at Kona Airport
We had our boarding passes out and IDs. Thankfully we both had Precheck and there were only a few people in line ahead of us. It was while we were waiting in the security line that I heard them page “Miller… party of 2… please make your way to Gate 9 for an on-time departure”. I told the people in front of us that they had just paged us and asked if we could cut in front of them. Everyone agreed and we got to the front of the line. I gave the TSA agent my ID and as he was scanning it, he literally asked me “Did you wait in the line?”. What I WANTED to say was “DUDE STAY IN YOUR LANE!” but instead I just told him that we had, but people had agreed to let us pass them as they had just paged us. He stared at my ID for what seemed like an eternity, but then let me pass.
We loaded our bags on the scanning conveyor. I started to wait for them for awhile, then got the idea that it would be better for me to leave my bag there with my son and take off for the gate.
Sprinting for the gate
I told my son to wait for our bags to come out and that once he got both backpacks, he should run for Gate 9 and then I took off. Thankfully Gate 9 wasn’t too far from security, and as I got near enough to the agents I started waving my arms and saying “I’m Miller!!!!”
They immediately asked where the other Miller was. I told them he was on his way from security. They told me to tell him to run. So I said I would and immediately started running back towards security. I got all the way back to security and I still hadn’t seen him, and I was starting to worry. Did he somehow get held up because I had left my bag there? Did that rogue agent decide to “stick it” to me? But just as I got back to the security exit, I saw him come running out with both of our bags. I took my bag from him and we both started running back to Gate 9.
We got there and they asked for our boarding passes. I was trying to find it on my phone and then they just told us to get on the plane. I’m not sure what kind of shenanigans they did in their computer systems since they definitely didn’t scan either of our boarding passes, but we made our way onto the plane. You can even see from FlightAware that my connecting flight left “on-time” (though technically it was 3 minutes late as it was scheduled to leave at 8:45)
The Bottom Line
After the drama of the airport, the actual flight was uneventful (and short). We were both sweating like crazy and thankful for the water and POG juice that they passed out on the flight. I was super glad that we had made this connection and like most things, it makes for a great story (after the fact!) I think that this is actually the first time that I have literally heard them page my name over the airport intercom!
Got any good sprinting through the airport stories? Leave them in the comments
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