Feeling Aloha At 40,000 Feet

I was not sad when Mesa announced that its inter-island airline go! was going away. I had so many negative feelings rooted in the wrenching departure of Aloha Airlines that I kept my vow to never fly the airline that forced its death. Still, whatever the parent company did, it’s too bad the employees have to suffer. I have no animosity at all for the good people who worked for go!, and I wish them well and good luck in finding new opportunities.

While on the subject of airlines, I’m writing this column on a flight en route to Vegas. I confess, it’s my first time flying to the Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines, and I’m wondering why it took so long. Well, actually I know why: old habits and those darn frequent-flier miles I had accumulated on other airlines.

I have to say, what a pleasant experience! The Airbus 330 is large enough that I don’t feel packed into a tin can. It’s clean, comfortable and new-ish.

And wow. They actually serve food. They gave us a healthy breakfast of fruit and cheese – and it was free! I’d forgotten how pleasant it is to receive a free meal on an airplane. It’s almost like stepping back to a time when air travel was special.

Almost. Hawaiian is a modern airline in competitive times. You still have to pay to check a bag and they charge for blankets and headsets. But that free meal is a nice gesture, a special touch and one that makes you feel you’re getting a little something for all that money you pay to fly.

Actually, though, the nicest thing about Hawaiian isn’t the food; it’s the feeling of aloha emanating from the crew. It may sound a bit hokey, but I believe that being the local airline makes a difference to the employees and how they see themselves, their passengers and their jobs. On this flight, at least, they are representing their airline and their state quite well.

And they’d better! Those folks sitting in the seats could be (and probably are) their moms, dads, aunties, cousins and classmates. In looking around the cabin at all the faces, I’m struck by how much it feels like a bit of home – albeit 40,000 feet up in the air.

I’ve done my share of complaining about air travel and some irritating and downright bad travel experiences, so it’s refreshing to be able to give a little credit where credit is due. I don’t know if my experience on this airline is typical, but I hope it is.

For now, I’m just enjoying the ride.

Twitter: @JadeMoon1