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Aulani 2024: Day 6 – Recap, Thoughts & Observations (2/23/24)

Aulani Day 6 – Friday, February 23, 2024

For president’s week 2024 we traveled to Hawaii and stayed at Disney’s Aulani Resort on Oahu.   Visit my 2024 Aulani Trip Summary page for links to all my picture posts, videos and more from this visit.

Daily Log:

Was up again before sunrise and spent some time packing.  Then went for a quick ride to fill up the other rental car.  Once back visited with family in the room as everyone finished packing.  While waiting spent a lot of time on the balcony and spotted a rainbow as well as some whales out in the ocean.  Made a couple trips out to the parking structure to load the cars, and bid farewell to those on an earlier flight.  Departed for the airport around 10:30am.  No traffic or delays dropping off the rental car, checking in or with TSA and I was in the terminal around 11:30 and took a walk out just in time to see our earlier group’s plane push back.    I rejoined the group I was with once they all made it through security and we went to the Ko Olina Lounge.   A little after 1pm decided to go to the food court and get some lunch then walked around the airport a bit before finding a seat near a window at our gate to wait.  Our plane arrived just before 4pm.  We boarded and were airborne just after 5pm.  Arrived back in Los Angeles just before midnight.   Picked up our bags, took a shuttle to the parking lot, found our car and headed for home.  Made it home around 2am to end a long travel day.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • We knew we were going to be in for a long travel day since yesterday evening. At dinner we received an alert from Delta that our flight was delayed several hours. We decided to still head to the airport more less as planned due to the car rental return time and to just be there and not have to rush.
  • I started my morning helping the half of our group that was on a different airline and leaving on time get ready to go. This entailed a trip to Costco for gas for them and then a couple trips to load their van. Costco was busier than it had been when I stopped but still quiet for a Friday morning.
  • We spent a lot of time this week on the balcony looking out at the ocean and over the pool area at Aulani. Typically we watched boats cruise by but not much else out in the ocean. This morning we had two interesting sights. First up a rainbow was spotted in the distance. Then later in the morning we spotted a pod of whales passing by.
  • The checkout process at Aulani was all online and automated, no need to visit the front desk and since we charged nothing to the room it was a small bill, just the taxes since we were staying in a DVC Villa.
  • As we were leaving there was a cast member directing traffic in front of the lobby. We paused to talk to him since cars were not moving and he asked if we knew you could exit the parking structure on the first level out to the side street with a light.  We did not.  This was our second time staying there and no one had mentioned this was an option.  Too bad we were on our way out and no way to try it and see the time savings. It should save significant time since you do not have to go through the front of the hotel or down the street to make a u-turn.  Why do they not tell those guests who are self parking of this option?
  • The drive to the airport was uneventful, it did feel like we were going in circles a lot at the airport to reach the rental car return. We were joking the plan was to get the car to drop below full.      If you were curious we filled up at Costco, drop back to Aulani then to airport and the van still read full so no need to fill up at the airport.
  • Hawaii requires an agricultural screening before you check your bags in for the TSA screening. This process takes place outside the terminal and entails all bags going through an x-ray machine.  We lucked out with no wait.
  • The Delta checkin was quiet and we walked up and were checked in within a few minutes.
  • The TSA checkpoints at HNL are spread out. Half of us had pre-check which had a dozen people and moved ok.  The others had to go in the regular queue and it took them nearly 30 minutes.
  • I arrived at the terminal just in time to hear the final boarding for the rest of our group that left earlier for the airport. I was able to wave to their plane as it pushed back while waiting for my travel companions to get through TSA.   Originally our two flights were within an hour of each other.  Due to the delay with ours that was not the case now.  We saw them depart and had several hours before our plan was due in. The good news was it was enroute so hopefully not delayed further.
  • We stopped by the Ko Olina lounge which is on the lower level in the garden.  The lounge is available for anyone staying at a Ko Olina resort. You just have to book a reservation on their website.  It was quiet inside with only a few other travelers during our visit.  The awkward part was the fixed times and 2 hour time block.  There was food available for purchase and we were offered water.    We most likely could have stayed beyond our initial time since no one was there but we did not ask and left at the time designated time.
  • Due to the delay of our flight Delta sent each a $15 meal voucher. We used it in the food court.  It was kind of sad you could not even get a full fast food meal for $15.  I ordered chicken fries and French fries and it was just over $15 with no drink.  Another ordered a Whopper and it was $15.  Others opted for the Chinese food where you could get a couple items.  It seems that voucher should be higher in Hawaii to cover the full cost of a meal. Maybe $25.
  • Our flight was assigned to gate F2 which was in an area by itself with no other gates. It was in between the two concourses so the plane pulled straight in. The area had  a number of windows and was relatively calm.  Also there were restrooms inside the area so you did not have to go elsewhere.  The downside was it felt rather old.
  • As we were taxing out to take off I got a text from my brother who was on the other flight and he had just landed at LAX.   So his entire flight time we were waiting for ours.  We did get a nice view of a rainbow on take off and a great view of Diamond Head as we headed east.
  • Flight home was uneventful. The service was sub par, they were in a rush to leave so no drinks offered which you would expect. The meal was not good as usual. I don’t understand why you ca not request a plain hamburger.. for those with dairy issues that is poor, I ordered the bland meal and it was just as bad as the regular meal.  They did not even bring around snacks or other offerings.   It was an older 767 so overhead bins in center could not accommodate many bags.  Also the TV screen was tiny and the touch was not calibrated properly.
  • The flight itself was fast at 4.5 hours, about 2 hours faster than going out thanks to the wind.
  • Upon arrival LAX was busy as usual. We lucked out and our bags were in the first group off the plane.  We walked outside and a shuttle bus had just pulled up for our parking lot.     No issues with the bus, parking or drive home, besides the late hour.  It was around 2am by the time we finally made it home.

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