A consensus amongst us when we started talking about creating this blog was that there was a lack of information about airports during layovers. Navigating clunky, confusing, disorganized airport websites isn’t really easy to do on a phone…with limited battery power and spotty service/wifi.
Whether you’re running for your life to make that next flight or have an eternity to kill, we all need the basic 411 to help us get where we’re going.
Our rating system is subjective, but is simple: One ✈️ = hope your layover is short or this is your final destination because there’s nothing here for you to 5 ✈️ = might as well unpack your bags because this is better than where you live currently.
Recently, I had the pleasure of having a several hour lei-over (see what I did there?) on my way to Kona, HI in what has to be one of the world’s most scenic airports: the Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport (HNL).
There are three terminals connected via outdoor walkways (could there BE a better way for Hawaii to display its temperate climate?):
Terminal 1: commuter; Terminal 2: Interisland; Terminal 3: main
The confusing thing about this airport is that they designate letters for the terminals despite also numbering them. Terminal 3 is M for main, and Terminal 2 is Z for who knows why. Most flights from the mainland, including mine on Hawaiian Airlines (the best domestic carrier IMO), arrive in Terminal 3. Many of the building are really 1970s in architectural style, so you feel like you traveled into the Brady Bunch episode where Bobby finds that evil tiki idol (I think I’m aging myself here).
It’s actually a smaller airport, for being one of the most travelled in the US. Very easy to walk from one end of the main concourse to the other. As this is an older airport, there are not as many built in charging areas. If you’re someone like me who is a little (read: a lot) paranoid about using third party public charging stations (rather than airport controlled), you may be in trouble. There are random outlets throughout the gate areas, but you’ll be sitting on the floor. There could also be more bathrooms and better signage for international travelers.
Also, for a large international layover destination, dining options are limited. It’s mostly fast food options: Starbucks, Pinkberry, Burger King, chinese, sushi, CPK. There is a Honolulu Cookie Company store, which I appreciate because pineapple shaped shortbreads are the world’s cutest and tastiest souvenirs.
All of this really doesn’t matter though, because the airport plays on the beauty of its locale by being half outside. You disembark after hours of flying and the tropical humidity offers a big Aloha with a plumeria scented hug. HNL is basic, no frills, but what are you doing sitting around an airport anyway when you could be on Waikiki throwing up a shaka on a surfboard while drinking a Mai Tai and eating a malasada? That being said, if you have a lei-over (oops, I did it again), you’re just going to have to wait a little while longer before finding your true hau’oli. Aloha!
Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️
Convenience of security lines: ✈️✈️✈️
Charging stations/wifi: ✈️ (wifi not available)
Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (cultural gardens, airline lounges, luxury duty free shopping options)