The latest edition of Big Metal Bird explores United’s historic Island Hopper route between Guam and Honolulu.
Three times per week, a United 737-800 takes off from Honolulu just as the sun begins to rise, making five stops enroute to Guam:
The journey is retraced in the opposite direction under the darkness of night.
This flight is a lifeline to the Marshall Islands and Federated Sates of Micronesia, delivering food, supplies, and mail. It’s a also a lot of fun to fly.
Ground stops are one hour or less and United carries a second pair of pilots and a mechanic with spare parts to fix any minor maintenance issues that may arise. If a flight does have a more serious mechanical issue, a back-up must be flown in from Guam…leaving passengers often to go home with United staff. Tourist infrastructure is very limited on these islands.
Here’s United’s new video about the service:
You can also read more about the service here.
I flew the Island Hopper in 2013 from Honolulu to Guam and had a great experience after an initial upgrade snafu. Here’s some pictures from my journey:
My westbound trip on the Island Hopper is still one of my fondest memories of all my years of flying. For av/geeks, consider this flight a pilgrimage that must be done at least once. You will not regret it. I hope to take my son on it one day…and yes, I’ll be sitting next to him.
This year United celebrates the route’s 50th anniversary. That is quite a legacy.
Have you flown the United Island Hopper? Did you enjoy it? Honestly, I loved it…even if 14 hours is a long time to be on a 737-800!