United Airlines Sells Waikiki Seaside Hotel

A story about United Airlines selling its dated but centrally-located Waikiki hotel brought to mind a very fond memory that helped solidify my loyalty to United.

In 2009, I took advantage of a LAX-HNL-SFO-SYD-SFO-HNL-LAX fare for $ 550. It was my first time in Australia (for a whole six hours!) and to this day one of my all time favorite mileage runs. The transpacific flights were not upgradeable, but the LAX-HNL-SFO and SFO-HNL-LAX flights were each upgradeable with a single e500-mile upgrade, since UA calculated the upgrade distance from origin to destination and less than 400 miles separate LAX from SFO.

It was near the end of the trip and I was on an afternoon SFO-HNL flight sitting in first class. As I used to do nearly every flight in those days, I wrote a note to the Captain, either thanking him/her for making ATC Communications available on Channel 9 or stating how disappointed I was that he/she elected not to make them available. I built up quite a collection of pilot business cards doing that and on this particular flight, the Captain sent me back the flight plan with an invitation to visit the cockpit in HNL.

I had about a six hour layover before my redeye back to Los Angeles, so I had planned to take a bus to Waikiki and hang out for awhile. After the flight I went up the the flight deck and struck up a conversation with the Captain and First Officer, who were flabbergasted (to say the least) when they heard the trip I was on. The First Officer peppered me with a number of questions and his eyes lit up when I told him I worked in the Bush White House. He was a hard-core Republican and that immediately got him talking politics.

He knew I had a long layover, so he leaned over to the Captain--who turned out to be a hard-core Democrat--and asked if I could ride on the crew shuttle into town. The Captain quickly said yes and I filed out with the flight crew down a set of stairs, onto the tarmac, and into a van that speedily drove across the tarmac and out onto the road.

By this time, the Captain and First Officer were bickering over Social Security Privatization and the Iraq War and most of the flight crew was inquiring who I was and why I was onboard. They all thought I was an employee and had a good laugh when the First Officer blurted out that I was a mileage runner and had just flown in from Sydney.

We pulled up to Seaside Hotel and everyone shook my hand or patted me on the back, thanking me for my business and loyalty.

That is a great memory and the Seaside Hotel in Honolulu always makes me think of that. In that sense, it is sad to see it go--though I trust FAs will have a more modern hotel when they layover in Hawaii. Retirees, though, are understandably fuming. They had been able to use the company hotel, often with many open rooms, for vacations and leisure--you can bet those days are over.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday the pending sale has sparked protest from airline workers and retirees who have been staying there for decades.

Hotel workers were notified of the pending sale in a termination letter, with their last day being Feb. 29. Some may have opportunities to work for the new managers.

Hotel industry observers say the transaction is noteworthy because it's one of the few hotels in Waikiki on fee-simple land.

According to property tax records, the 125-unit hotel was assessed at $9.4 million last year.

United may sell the hotel, but they cannot take away my memories!


Mike February 16, 2012 at 12:58 am

What a great story - I hope people get past the staid news title to read the mini trip report. Ah...one 500 miler - it's like your very own UDU program! And how many business cards did you get from the pilots you scolded for not having Channel 9 available? lol

Darren February 17, 2012 at 05:03 pm

Great story, Matthew, and a fantastic idea about sending a note to the flight deck re: Channel 9.

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