Review: United Airlines “Island Hopper” – Flight #4, Pohnpei – Chukk
The United Island Hopper flight is one of the worlds most legendary flights for aviation enthusiasts. It consists of a single flight that links some of the Pacific Ocean’s most remote islands carrying passengers, freight and supplies of the islands on a lifeline basis.
This post is one chapter on our trip on the United Island Hopper and to Oahu & Kauai, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan, United Airlines Mileage Plus and Marriott Bonvoy. It was further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: The United Island Hopper via Honolulu & Kauai, on United Airlines and Alaska Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Vancouver – Seattle
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Seattle – Honolulu
- The Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #1: Honolulu – Majuro
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #2: Majuro – Kwajalein
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #3: Kwajalein – Pohnpei
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #4: Pohnpei – Chuuk
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #5: Chuuk – Guam
- The United Island Hopper – Top 5 Tips and Tricks
- The Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort, Guam
- The Sagan Bisita VIP Lounge, Guam
- United Airlines: Guam – Honolulu
- Bill’s Sydney, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
- Hawaiian Airlines The Plumeria Lounge, Honolulu, USA
- Hawaiian Airlines First Class: Honolulu – Lihue
- The Sheraton Kauai Resort, Poi’pu, Hawaii, USA
- Visiting Kauai Coffee Estate, Kauai, USA
- The Views at the Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, USA
- Sailing the Napali Coast, Kauai, USA
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Lihue – Seattle
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Seattle – Vancouver
Review: United Airlines “Island Hopper” B737-8 – Flight #4, Pohnpei International Airport – Chukk International Airport
The United Airlines Island Hopper is one of the worlds’ most unique airline routes. The United Airlines Island Hopper is a route between Honolulu and Guam that stops at several small islands in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. The flight is flown between two and three times per week and is the only scheduled service for many of the islands on the route. I had already spent many hours over the course of several years glancing through the United Hemispheres in flight magazine in order to one day take this flight. As a result of it’s remoteness and isolation, the airline route is one of the world’ most unique air corridors and airline travel experiences.
These next posts set out my experience in flying the United Airlines “Island Hopper” flight that crosses the Pacific through some of the world’s most remote islands. For details on how I planned the United Island Hopper trip, please see our earlier post.
The flight sequence is so unique, there isn’t any way to really cover it in detail with just one sole post. As a result, I’ve split the flight up into one flight segment per post to allow for travellers that really want to get into the journey to read up to see what they can expect.
United Airlines Island Hopper Flights:
After our third flight on United Airlines Island Hopper Kwajalein – Pohnpei, and a quick layover at the Pohnpei International Airport with the best souvenir stand on the trip and an unusual international phone, it was time to leave.
With our early boarding call, I ended up snapping off a few photographs by this point as I walked back out to the aircraft. Much like my past trip to Easter Island Chile and LATAM Business Class Easter Island – Santiago, the rural apron air ramp boarding seemed all that much more normal at this time in the sequence of flights.
UA 154 – Economy Class (XN)
PNI – TKK (Pohnpei – Truk)
January 31, 2020
3:05 PM – 3:20 PM
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800
On Board the United Island Hopper:
We had boarded quite early in a surprising era of efficiency for such a tiny outpost. Unlike the earlier segments, this section of the flight was surprisingly full with few empty seats.
I was joined by a female seat mate in 8D whom had a traditional patterned wrap and a Micheal Kors handbag; most unusual for this part of the world. I would later discover that she was United crew, based on her interactions with others later in the trip.
Thankfully, middle seats in Economy Plus within Micronesia are not hot sellers so I had another empty middle 8E next to me for this leg.
While we waited to get underway, I had enough time to capture a photograph of the souvenirs from Pohnpei. It’s a great photo for the souvenir books…
The pilot came on with a public address announcement with the usual introductions and a repeat of the same Star Wars flight safety video. We departed on Runway 9 with peek a boo views of the hills amid the cloudy weather of this particular island.
Food and Beverage:
A Minute Maid Orange Juice
The crew came around with another pack of almonds and a beverage service. I had a Minute Maid orange juice for this leg. I figured that we were more than halfway through the trip, I would get into the last of my triple stacker sandwich which had survived about nine hours of flight by this point.
In Flight Scenery:
It was at this point in the journey that the clouds actually broke a little and I got some somewhat interesting scenery slipping by through the window. The atoll rings were among the most interesting of the entire journey on this Pohnpei – Chukk segment.
I also found this sole island to be particularly captivating. The sight of a small, isolated island surrounded by a coral reef with a small structure on it was the perfect world wide island hideaway.
The segment from Pohnpei to Trukk was only 1 hour and 15 minutes. The pilots offered the usual winds and weather updates by public address announcement just prior to the final approach at Chukk International Airport.
Landing at Chukk International Airport:
It was a pretty approach on the right hand side of the aircraft prior to landing in Truk. Much like Pohnpei Federated States of Micronesia, the topography was mountainous and tropical.
We landed on runway 4 and had a taxi to the terminal. As for the last time today, the Chuuk fire truck came out to meet us.
I had my first look at the terminal building at the Chuuk International Airport. It was another larger building that demonstrated some importance on the air link off the island.
Transiting Chukk International Airport:
On arrival into the Chukk International Airport Terminal, I kept my eye out for the last opportunity for a passport stamp. As you may have guessed by now, things aren’t as well marked as they should be. We didn’t have many arriving passengers with some that looked like they were headed off with staff members to other parts of the apron. I perhaps should have followed my gut a bit more and pushed the issue headed towards what appeared to be a service door. The area is so well marked, you need to use a little vanishing ink even to see the local airport sign.
Instead, I ended up headed with the crowds to the main transit building. The building was another old utilitarian facility with upright semi portable air conditioners. The hall didn’t have much charm to it. It was packed however and was the busiest hall of the group today. There were some Japanese and American Tourists, some locals in traditional attire.
I also spotted another group of older women who appeared to be on a small group holiday. I took a look at the older women closely and happened to spot United Crew ID cards on lanyards around their necks. On closer examination, they even had old Continental stock luggage tags on their rolling luggage tags. One of them sported a Blue Lagoon Dive Shop Truk golf shirt, the place to be when you come to Truk.
I used the local facilities and we were back to the land of waste basket(s) by the toilet for the used toilet paper. There was an odour to match with the same rural smell of sweat in the waiting room that you get when you travel through places like India or rural South America where people don’t have the same access to hot showers like we do in the west. The holding area had a real authentic feel to the place and was a hive of activity during the short time we were there.
Within the Truk holding area, there was a small gift shop and sundries store but it didn’t sell too many interesting things. It did happen to sell rolls of toilet paper that you could select by pointing through the counter glass, along with flower ceramic earrings. There were some wooden carvings for about $35 – 50 USD but they didn’t look all to interesting or authentic for that matter.
Without the ability to get any cell signal or Wi-Fi in the airport, it was a pretty stand- around-and-find-someone-to-chat-to type of layover. The military group tended to stick together, in addition to ordering Asahi beer at every airport opportunity. I’d probably be doing the same thing if I was stuck on a tiny island for months at a time.
After our layover here, we would depart on flight number #5 United Airlines Island Hopper Chuuk – Guam and our final flight of the day.
United Airlines Island Hopper Flights:
My Thoughts on the United Island Hopper between Pohnpei – Chukk:
The highlight of this segment between Pohnpei and Chukk were the sights of the atolls that surrounded the two islands. Since the flight was so short, and the atolls so beautiful it made for the most interesting atoll spotting on the whole Island Hopper. Regrettably, there weren’t any exciting souvenirs at the Chuuk International Airport, so make sure you go all out at Pohnpei International Airport.