The Background

Several years ago, I heard about an intriguing flight. United 154, better known as The Island Hopper. I read an account of someone flying UA154, got excited, showed it to my wife, and she immediately said there was no way she was ever taking that flight. Before you judge her too harshly though, you need to understand exactly what The Island Hopper entails. You see, although The Island Hopper has just one flight number, it is actually a series of multiple flights between Honolulu and Guam. A direct flight between these two cities takes around 7 1/2 hours. The Island Hopper takes almost 15 hours. To experience this, you have to voluntarily decide to add 7 1/2 hours to your travel time. A person would have to be crazy to do that, wouldn’t they?

Well, fast forward a few years and you find me sitting on my couch one morning. My phone buzzes with a notification. Then another. Then another. A couple of friends of mine are writing to me to let me know about a mistake deal on The Island Hopper. The routing is a little bit odd and would require a few positioning flights, but at $318, this is too good of a deal to pass up. I already know Chrissy won’t want to go. The boys will be in school. So I start looking for dates to go with friends. Unluckily, we couldn’t find any dates that worked for all of us. Luckily, I really enjoy solo travel. Within a few hours, my ticket was booked.

The Island Hopper varies depending on what day of the week you fly it. Due to my schedule, I couldn’t make it work with the extra stop at Kosrae (KSA). I was sad to miss it, but I still saw plenty of islands on my trip. My routing for the whole itinerary was Newark (EWR) – Honolulu (HNL) – 18 hour layover – Majuro (MAJ) – Kwajalein (KWA) – Pohnpei (PNI) – Chuuk (TKK) – Guam (GUM) – Manila (MNL) – 5 nights in the Philippines – open jaw – Beijing (PEK) – Chicago (ORD) – Baltimore (BWI). All for $318. Like I said, who could pass that up?

Ok, enough with the words. Let’s get to the pictures. That’s why people really take this flight, isn’t it? I took some hyper lapse videos on takeoffs and landings as we bounced along from island to island. My apologies in advance for the vertical video, but I was working with a handheld iPhone, a very scratched and blurry window, and no good way to hold it steady. I hope you can still enjoy it. Below the video, you will find a few of my favorite photos, all shot with my iPhone 7 Plus, all shot through a cloudy, scratched window. I think they came out well, considering what I had to work with, and that they give you an idea of the beauty you can see on UA 154, The Island Hopper.

 

The Video

 

The Photographs

Boarding passes for UA 154, The Island Hopper.

Most of my boarding passes for the day. If you look closely, you can see that I didn’t quite spread them all out. Oops.

 

Sun rays and winglet line up perfectly.

The bright rays of the sun on the window lined up perfectly with the winglet as we cruised above the clouds. This was on the first leg of the journey, shortly after taking off from Hawaii.

 

Beautiful colors in the Marshall Islands.

The first glimpse of the amazing turquoise, blue, and green waters as we entered the airspace over the Marshall Islands.

 

Majuro Atoll waters in the Marshall Islands.

More of the sandy shores and turquoise waters of the Marshall Islands, as we come in for a landing on Majuro Atoll.

 

Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, airport welcome sign.

Welcome to Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, the first stop on The Island Hopper. At most stops, we could get out and stretch our legs during the short 45-60 minute layovers.

 

United UA 154 plane.

This was the bird that took us across the Pacific. A less than new United jet with uncomfortable slim line seats and antiquated, broken in-flight entertainment. It sure does look nice sitting in the sun on Majuro Atoll though, doesn’t it?

 

Plane shadow in the pacific.

As we took off from Majuro Atoll, the angle was right for a nice little shadow of our plane floating across the water.

 

Sandbar island as we left Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.

Here is one of the outlying little islands as we left Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. You may notice that there are no pictures of the welcome sign for this second stop. This is because Kwajalein is an active military base and photographs are strictly forbidden while on the ground. This also means that Island Hopper passengers are not allowed to leave the plane on this stop, unless staying on the island on official business.

 

Sandbar islands approaching Pohnpei, Micronesia.

One of the more beautiful mixes of color, this time as we approach Pohnpei, Micronesia.

 

Pohnpei, Micronesia, airport welcome sign.

Welcome to Pohnpei, Micronesia, the third stop on The Island Hopper. At this stop, we were again allowed to get off the plane and walk around a bit. The flowers were lovely.

 

Beautiful colors in the water and sand in Micronesia.

Between Pohnpei and Chuuk, Micronesia, the waters were as beautiful as could be. The colors were amazing and definitely the highlight of the Island Hopper experience.

 

Chuuk, Miscronesia, airport welcome sign.

Welcome to Chuuk, Micronesia, the fourth and final stop before reaching Guam on The Island Hopper. My seat mate for most of this trip was from Chuuk and I learned a lot about the island and culture from her, over the several hours we shared a row.

 

Beautiful sunset and clouds over the pacific.

As the day came to an end and the sun began to set, the beauty moved up to the sky, with the last rays of sunlight bouncing through the clouds. It almost looks like a painting, doesn’t it?

 

The Conclusion

I hope this has given you a glimpse into the amazing sights from UA 154. This post was only about The Island Hopper portion of my trip. Keep an eye out for more posts about the rest of the trip, including how I used miles and points for my positioning flights and my open jaw, and my experience diving some World War II Japanese wrecks in Coron. Overall, it was a great trip. Would I fly United’s Island Hopper again just for fun? Probably not. Am I glad I did it once? Absolutely! Let me know in the comments if you have taken UA154, and if so, what did you think?

 

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