Category: Family

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: Hawaiian Airlines With Kids

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: Hawaiian Airlines With Kids

Last month was our second trip to Hawaii as a family of 4!

We are two adults, one 12 year-old, and one 21 month-old (who completed his 27th flight as a “lap baby” on this trip).

The Flights

We flew San Diego to Honolulu on the one daily Hawaiian Air flight available, which departs in the morning on an Airbus A330.

We did a cheap online bid for the lay-flat first class seats and didn’t get it. They offered it to us again at check-in for over $400 per seat, but we weren’t willing to pay that much for first class because it was a measly 6-hour daytime flight.

Instead we snagged bulkhead seats in premium economy (aka “Extra Comfort”) in the middle of the 2-4-2 seat configuration for $80 each. That worked out great, because we had easy access to the mid-plane galley for when Baby J decided to spend a good portion of the flight throwing up.

After a long layover, we took the 30-minute inter-island flight over to Maui. The island-hopper planes are all Boeing 717s or ATR 42 Turbopros or something similar. There was no reason to upgrade on such a small plane for such a short flight, so we stuck with basic economy.

The one daily direct flight from Maui to San Diego on Hawaiian Air is on an Airbus 321 (a smaller plane than the A330), and again we upgraded to premium economy. Pro tip: first class on HA’s A330 does not have lay-flat beds. Premium economy is a better bang for your buck by far. The homebound flight was just under 5 hours.

The Costs

Our total cost for all flights was $1,234.81. That’s for 3 “adults” and a “lap baby” flying on Saturdays during the peak spring break season.

You can read the full cost breakdown here, including the details of our annoying but ultimately cost-effective struggles with the Hawaiian Air Mastercard and rewards program.

Family Boarding

Families traveling with kids under 2 board right after the first class passengers.

The In-Flight Experience

Hawaiian Air knows their game. The island music is playing as soon as you board, the soap in the bathroom smells like coconut, and the cookies are shaped like pineapples.

The seats in premium economy were perfect for us with our “lap baby” because the cushions were wide and full enough that they made a sort of couch when the armrests were up. Baby J could sit between two of us in this manner and not have to be on anyone’s lap. Sky couch! Super comfy.

There was supposedly some in-flight entertainment available on the Hawaiian Air app (download before you board) but most of it cost extra as far as we could tell. We were locked and loaded with our own phones, tablets, and ipods, so we didn’t need to use it.

The harsh reality is that when flying with a toddler your entertainment often consists of starting at the flight tracker, willing the plane to move faster.

Hawaiian Air serves a hot meal even in coach on flights to and from the mainland, which is much appreciated in contrast to the “pay extra if you want food during domestic flights” attitude on many airlines.

They also served a complimentary rum-punch for adults and tropical juice for the kids an hour before landing.

There was ample diaper-changing space in the lavatories. Our fabulous crew was unfazed by Baby J’s need to puke every 90 minutes over the Pacific (and once right before we parked at our arrival gate). They swooped in like hawks with that anti-stink powder and biohazard bags every time it happened.

The Long Layover at HNL

One of the great things about morning flights from the mainland to Honolulu is that you arrive pretty early in the day. If you’re connecting to another island, you can take as little or as much time as you want between your inbound flight and your connection, since the island-hoppers to the popular airports take off at regular intervals all day.

There are not luggage lockers at HNL anymore, so plan accordingly.

We arrived around 1pm in Honolulu and booked our flight to Maui for 7pm so that we’d have time to show our boys Pearl Harbor.

If you are traveling with older kids or adults, you’ll probably want to spend more time there than we did (reserve your tickets in advance). In our case, a half-day was the perfect amount of time to be there with a toddler.

If you just have one or two things you want to see in the Honolulu area, consider a purposefully long layover to check them off your list. It makes for a very high-energy but very fun travel day.

The Plumeria Lounge

After our day out in Honolulu, we headed back to HNL for our inter-island flight and busted out our Priority Pass to grab snacks at the Plumeria Lounge.

The entrance to the Plumeria Lounge was buried under several layers of airport construction zones, but the inside of the lounge was clean, quiet, and uncrowded.

The lounge offerings would probably not impress you fancy first-class-only world travelers, but it had everything we needed in terms of food and drink and a space to relax.

We were the only family there, and everyone was friendly with the kids. It was a short and easy walk to our gate.

Summary

The short and sweet of it is: If you’re going to Hawaii with your kids, Hawaiian Airlines is a great choice.

Don’t bother getting their credit card. Do upgrade to premium economy for the extra leg room.

Hawaiian Airline’s safety record is excellent, their aircraft are nice, and their prices are competitive. They do a good job with customer service and family-friendliness, and you’ll arrive smelling like guava juice and plumerias.

Bon voyage!

Hacking Our Way to Hawaii (Round 2!)

Hacking Our Way to Hawaii (Round 2!)

We’ve been able to fly Hawaiian Airlines quite a few times – domestically and internationally, economy and first class – but it’s only in the last 12 months that we’ve flown HA with the kids.

The first trip to Hawaii with the kids was a wonderful week in Maui March of 2018, when Baby J was 9 months old. You can read here about the costs of the entire trip, as well as comparable costs if we had paid cash.

Read More Read More

Our Family’s 2018 Spending (and How We Could Have Spent Less)

Our Family’s 2018 Spending (and How We Could Have Spent Less)

A couple quick notes before we dive in to the numbers:

I decided back in January of 2018 to share our family’s spending publicly for a whole year. This was an attempt to prove that doctors do not have to spend a totally ridiculous amount of money to live well and love life and more importantly a strategy to make us take a cold hard look at where all our cash was going and decide whether we liked what we saw.

Read More Read More

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: British Airways with Kids

Flying the Family-Friendly Skies: British Airways with Kids

If you’re wondering which airline has the best champagne selection or the highest thread count on their linens, this is not the post you’re looking for.

Our family travel style is very middle-of-the-road for international travelers. We fly in basic economy most of the time. Sure, we love a good airport lounge and we very occasionally spring for the lay-flat beds on nighttime flights. But we also are not “luxury” travelers. We don’t care about alcohol selection and don’t like to be checked on every 10 minutes. We do love getting from Point A to Point B without dreading our travel days, even if Point B is halfway across the world.

So here’s my review of British Air and our flights to and from Switzerland this year with our preteen C and our little toddler J.

Read More Read More

Cheating at Thanksgiving Vacation

Cheating at Thanksgiving Vacation

I’ll admit it right off the bat: we are really lucky to know lots of people who live in cool places and do cool things and frequently invite us along for the ride.

It’s now our firm policy that we say “yes!” to as many invites as possible from our loved ones.

I do realize this gives us a huge advantage over people who feel like they are blazing the travel trail on their own while most of their acquaintances prefer to be parked on the couch watching TV, or who feel unsupported in their desire for adventures by loved ones who don’t have the same hobbies. But if that’s you, please know this:

The more you pursue travel and adventure, the more you will meet other people who do these sorts of things, and the more you will get intriguing invitations sent your way.

Read More Read More

Our Adoption Announcement Letter

Our Adoption Announcement Letter

I wrote this almost four years ago, when we found out that we were likely to be adopting C from foster care. You can see all of my posts about foster care and adoption here

We completed a second adoption from foster care a few months ago  – and November is National Adoption month! – so it seemed like a good time to share this publicly. We didn’t include any photos in that original letter, but I have included some here just for fun.

If you are working on your own adoption announcement, feel free to use any of this that applies to you

Read More Read More

Hitting the Trail: 10 Tips for Endurance Racing as a Busy Parent

Hitting the Trail: 10 Tips for Endurance Racing as a Busy Parent

Any parent will be happy to explain to you at length that everything gets more complicated after you add kids to your life. This includes your fitness regimen. But instead of letting that fall by the wayside – and letting your physical, mental, and emotional health suffer as a result – it’s best to get back on that horse as quickly as you can.

For us, that looked like getting back out on the trails asap after Baby J arrived last year. He did his first hike with us around 4 weeks old.

Fast forward to right now: my husband and I just finished a respectably difficult trail race in the San Juan Mountains, with our kids cheering us on at the finish line. This was the third time we’ve done this race together and the second time since we’ve been parents.

me and my husband on a high alpine pass
The summit of the race – at over 13,100 feet!

You might be thinking: “That seems kinda cool but…Nah. They seem a little bit crazy, and I’m not even sure they have real jobs. Plus running just comes easily for some people. I might have done something like that before I had kids, but not now because I’m way too busy…”

Read More Read More

A Letter from a Foster Mom

A Letter from a Foster Mom

I am very excited and proud to present the following guest post. Zella Kintsugi is the biological mother of three, the adoptive mother of two, and the foster mother of two.  She and her husband have been involved with foster care and adoption since 2014. 

A Letter from a Foster Mom

I do not have it all figured out. I lose my temper. I use words I should not at times that are likely not appropriate. I am not kind, loving, and generous in every situation in which I find myself.

Read More Read More

No-Car Days

No-Car Days

Fun fact: we Americans each spend an average of 293 hours in our vehicles every year. That’s 12+ solid days out of 365. I don’t care how good the music is or how fancy the upholstery is, that’s just way more time than I want to spend sitting in a car during my waking hours.

The hubs and I honestly did pretty well at minimizing our use of cars during 2016 and the first part of 2017 (our oldest has been a decent biker for years, so that helped).

Read More Read More