Far previous Hawaii, within the western reaches of the Pacific Ocean, United Airways flies Boeing 737s between small airports on tiny islands. The flights hop from isle to isle, every rising from huge heat aquamarine waters. This service, a legacy of World Warfare II aftermath, is understood affectionately because the Island Hopper.
Micronesia is an enormous expanse of tiny tropical islands sparsely dotting the western and central Pacific. The nations that comprise Micronesia are within the prime 10 least visited nations on the planet. They’re hidden gems off the crushed monitor, and are surprisingly straightforward to get to utilizing the Island Hopper. Abandoned white sand seashores, vibrant coral reefs, and misplaced historic cities await the intrepid vacationers who make the lengthy journey.
You’ll be able to simply use bank card factors or frequent flyer miles to go to.
After World Warfare II, america administered the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia till they turned unbiased nations. United inherited airplane routes from Continental Micronesia, which started serving the islands in 1968.
The Island Hopper is among the most aspirational flights on the planet for aviation followers. United’s service, inherited from Continental Micronesia in the course of the United-Continental merger, makes 5 stops within the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia:
- Majuro (MAJ),
- Kwajalein (KWA)
- Kosrae (KSA)
- Pohnpei (PNI)
- Chuuk (TKK)
The flights are a lifeline to most of the islands, offering the one dependable connection to the surface world.
My mother lived within the Marshall Islands within the late 1960s, and she or he flew the ’Hopper in it’s very first yr of operation. I grew up listening to fascinating tales from her time within the Pacific, and my home was full of intricate handmade handicrafts. I’ve lengthy been fascinated by this route and the islands even earlier than I turned an avgeek.
I needed to go to this alluring place of my mom’s childhood. And, in fact, I needed to make use of miles to do it.
- 1 Reserving the Island Hopper with Points and Miles
- 2 Abstract of the Islands
- 3 Reserving the Island Hopper
- 4 Stopovers and open jaws
- 5 Reserving particular person segments
- 6 Reserving with Singapore Airways KrisFlyer
- 7 Upshot – An Unimaginable Worth!
Reserving the Island Hopper with Points and Miles
United’s Island Hopper is dear, nevertheless it’s very straightforward to seek out area utilizing factors and miles. Just about each main transferrable journey rewards bank card — Chase Sapphire Most popular and Reserve, American Categorical Platinum and Gold, Citi ThankYou Premier and Capital One Enterprise — supplies factors that can be utilized to ebook Island Hopper flights.
My island hopper flight is a part of an unimaginable 12-stop itinerary. Prepare for it: DCA-SFO-HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-ROR-ICN-SEA-IAD.
I had a troublesome time deciding which islands to go to. If time weren’t a problem I might have visited all of them.
In the long run, I settled on Majuro, Pohnpei, and Koror.
Abstract of the Islands
Majuro (MAJ): My mom was a peace corps volunteer within the Marshall Islands, in order that was why I chosen Majuro (MAJ). I may even journey by boat to close by Arno atoll, since Majuro atoll is extra urbanized, so I may also journey by boat to close by Arno atoll to flee the extra crowded city middle.
Kwajalein (KWA): Additionally within the Marshall Islands, Kwajalein is an lively US army base, so solely members of the armed forces are allowed to disembark at this cease. Some flights from Majuro to Kosrae skip Kwajalein.
Kosrae (KSA): Whereas Kosrae appears like an unimaginable paradise, the ’Hopper someday skips the island and as an alternative goes immediately from Kwajalein to Pohnpei.
These trying to do the “complete” Island Hopper should verify that their itinerary stops in all islands. Many don’t.
Pohnpei (PNI): House to Nan Madol, Pohnpei a UNESCO world heritage website that options archaeological ruins of an deserted metropolis. This might be dubbed “the Venice of the Pacific.”
Chuuk (TKK): The most effective locations on the planet for wreck diving, as many ships and planes crashed into Chuuk lagoon throughout World Conflict II.
Guam (GUM): This U.S. territory, is the most important island in Micronesia. It’s additionally the terminus of the official island hopper route. I’m simply making a connection right here to Palau.
Palau (ROR): One other diving mecca. Probably the most well-known attraction right here is Jellyfish Lake, the place till just lately you can swim in a freshwater lake with tens of millions of stingless jellyfish. Nevertheless, the jellyfish have principally disappeared, and vacationers have been prohibited from visiting the lake for over a yr. The remainder of Palau’s diving nonetheless seems superb however what’s occurred at Jellyfish Lake is a disgrace.
From Palau, I’ll fly again to DC, with an extended sufficient layover in Seoul to shortly take a look at a the town for the primary time. My Palau to Seoul to Seattle flights are booked on Star Alliance associate Asiana, and I proceed on United to Washington Dulles.
Reserving the Island Hopper
Provided that United is the one operator, United MileagePlus is the simplest strategy to ebook an award. A round-trip mileage award from the mainland prices 70,000 miles financial system, 160,000 miles enterprise class, round-trip. Leaping off from Honolulu, the Island Hopper prices 55,000 miles in financial system, and 90,000 miles in firstclass, on the Saver degree.
Paying outright for my flights would have value $2,500 in financial system. This in any other case pricy journey makes for an excellent use of miles, at three.5 cents per mile.
Award availability varies by class of service and particular person phase. In enterprise, availability appears okay for some legs and virtually nonexistent on others. For instance, enterprise on the HNL-MAJ phase is out there on over one-third of dates in February. Then again, no enterprise class seats can be found on the PNI-TKK phase that very same month.
In financial system, Saver seats can be found virtually each single day.
The financial system award chart above is displaying days from Hawaii to Majuro with availability for 9 individuals! That’s a exceptional abundance of saver seats on nearly any route, no much less one which United operates solely.
How about flying your self and eight family members to the Marshall Islands for Valentine’s Day?
With present availability, discovering award seats between the continental U.S. and Hawaii could also be more durable than for the precise island hopper itself.
Notice: Not All Guam Flights Are Island Hopper Flights
When choosing a flight to Guam, you might want to examine in case you are on the nonstop flight or the island hopper. The island hopper is flight quantity UA154 westbound and UA155 eastbound.
Equally, in the event you guide a flight to Majuro, examine that you’re on the nonstop flight if you wish to get there sooner. In any other case, you may by accident get routed HNL-GUM after which take the eastward island hopper flight, which can add plenty of time — 29.5 hours as an alternative of simply over 5!
Stopovers and open jaws
United MileagePlus permits one stopover (referred to as an excursionist perk) and one open jaw on a spherical journey itinerary. So you can fly a spherical journey from the continental US to Majuro and e-book an Excursionist Perk flight to Pohnpei, for instance.
United’s multi-city device makes it straightforward so as to add an excursionist cease or op
en jaw to the island hopper. In my case, I’ve one stopover (MAJ) and one open jaw (arriving in PNI, departing from ROR), all in financial system.
The DCA-MAJ phase is prices 35,000 miles, the ROR-IAD phase is 35,000 miles, and the MAJ-PNI phase is zero miles due to the United excursionist perk.
Reserving particular person segments
In my journey, I needed multiple stopover. I needed to fly round-trip from Washington DC, stopping in Majuro, Pohnpei, and Koror, Palau. Palau isn’t a part of the official island hopper, however United flies there from its Guam hub. Subsequently, I needed to guide a separate phase from PNI-ROR to finish my itinerary.
For brief-haul segments beneath 800 miles in Oceania, United fees eight,000 miles in financial system. Segments over 800 miles value 12,500 miles. Right here is PNI-TKK in February. As you’ll be able to see, availability in financial system is excellent. For enterprise, not a single day has saver awards obtainable.
Additionally, there are not any taxes on award flights inside the Federated States of Micronesia. When was the final time you paid for a flight with simply miles and no taxes or charges?
For flights over 800 miles in Oceania, United expenses 12,500 in financial system and 20,000 for the legendary unicorn enterprise saver award.
Reserving with Singapore Airways KrisFlyer
I didn’t have sufficient United miles for an additional reserving, so I used Singapore KrisFlyer miles to ebook Pohnpei (PNI) to Palau (ROR). This flight would value 12,500 United or Singapore miles.
So I went to Singapore’s web site to e-book PNI-ROR.
Singapore’s web site initially mispriced the award at 45,000 miles.
After I clicked on “45,000 miles,” the worth reverted to 12,500 miles and SPD 150.80. These are the right taxes, and virtually all of it’s the Palau Pristine Paradise Environmental Entrance Charge.
Once I went to pay, none of my bank cards have been accepted.
I referred to as the Singapore Airways telephone reserving middle. The dialog went like this:
Me: “Hello, I’d like to book a saver economy award from Pohnpei to Palau. Your website won’t accept any of my credit cards, possibly because it initially misprices the award. May I book this over the phone and not pay the phone booking fee?”
Agent: “No problem. That will cost 12,500 miles and SPD 240.”
Me: These aren’t the right taxes. It ought to be round $150. Your web site appropriately fees the taxes and costs, it simply gained’t settle for my cost. Might you please verify?”
Agent: “I will have to check with the manager. Can you please call back tomorrow? I have placed a reservation on hold for you and emailed your confirmation number to you.”
First, I attempted hanging up and calling once more a number of occasions. However I acquired the identical response every time, however one way or the other each time I might name, the taxes can be too excessive, however totally different. One agent quoted me $197. One other $223. One other agent $240. I imply, the trade fee causes somewhat fluctuation, however not that a lot!
I additionally now have the Singapore Airways telephone maintain music caught in my head.
The issue resolved itself a number of days later when a supervisor appropriately calculated taxes and costs and charged me over the telephone. One of many points was that brokers have been charging a gasoline surcharge on the award, however Singapore shouldn’t do this on United tickets.
All of the brokers I spoke with at Singapore although, no matter pricing points, have been very courteous and truly appeared all for serving to me, which I can’t say the identical about many different airways.
One other fascinating observe is that Singapore classifies Micronesia as “North Asia 2” underneath KrisFlyer, whereas United considers these areas to be “Oceania.” A coach flight from China to Micronesia will value 17,500 United miles, however simply 12,500 Singapore miles.
Upshot – An Unimaginable Worth!
United’s Island Hopper is a captivating route and pretty simple to ebook utilizing miles. Availability is excellent in financial system class and horrible for enterprise until reserving many months out.
I’m past excited to fly this route, and I’ll you’ll want to hold you guys up to date about my journey! Keep tuned!
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