Review: United Airlines “Island Hopper” – Flight #5, Chukk – Guam


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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Review: United Airlines “Island Hopper” B737-8 – Flight #5, Chukk International Airport – Guam Antonio B Won Pat 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.

The United Island Hopper Routes from United Hemispheres In Flight Magazine

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.

Today’s Flight Route: United Airlines Island Hopper

Departing Chukk:

After our fourth flight on United Airlines Island Hopper Pohnpei – Chukk, and a transit of Chukk International Airport that consisted of chatting with other travellers, after about 30 minutes, we were called to board our last and final segment of the United Island Hopper.

Transiting the Chukk International Airport
United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Getting Ready for it’s Final Flight Today

The Chukk / Truk station was super casual and there wasn’t even a look or check of the boarding card once we exited the airport and boarded back onto the plane. We had an open air boarding with no air gates. With a short walk out to the plane, we were back on board before we knew it.

Boarding the United Island Hopper for the Last Time
United Airlines
UA 154 – Economy Class (XN)
TKK – GUM (Truk – Agana)
January 31, 2020
4:20 PM – 5:55 PM
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800

On Board the United Island Hopper:

Once on board, it was back to Seat 8F. As I had mentioned earlier, I paid for an economy plus seat at $59 USD for the entire Island Hopper duration and it was well worth the small added expense.

United Airlines Island Hopper Economy Plus Seat 8F

For the first time on our journey, the plane was completely full of passengers and carry on luggage. The overhead bins were completely stuffed and there were several bags being off loaded for checked baggage due to a lack of space on board.

I was joined by a larger local Pacific Islander seated in Seat 8E. Needless to say, out of five segments flown, with four segments without a seat mate, it was much more compact and tight fitting in the plane without having the seat next to you vacant.


Spotting the On Board Cargo Coolers:

While we waited, I happened to see all the igloo cooler containers that were being loaded on into the baggage hold and sent back to Guam full of fish. I had read that they would be returned by other family members back to Truk full of meat. There must have been at least thirty to forty of these coolers being loaded on and they dominated the cargo and baggage belt on arrival in Guam. It was evidence on how much a lifeline these flights are to this part of the world.

Loading up a Food Life Line: Coolers Full of Fresh Fish
Loading Up Coolers Full of Fresh Fish

We had a small delay while the crew sorted out the standby list and they got the last of the bags on board. The flight crew proudly announced as we started to taxi that this was the last and fifth segment of United Airlines Flight 154 with service to Guam.

Taking Off from Chukk:

On our departure, we used the runway to taxi out to Runway 4 with a u-ball turn at the end. We had a departure immediately over the Chukk Lagoon. The Chukk Lagoon is supposed to be one of the world’s best dive sites. It has several shipwrecks, although I didn’t to any advance research to see where in the Lagoon that they were to allow for some possible aerial spotting.

My Fifth Take Off Today: Runway 4 at Chukk International Airport
Runway #4 at Chukk International Airport
Taking Off at Chukk International Airport
Spotting Coastal Bays on Chukk
Spotting Coastal Reefs and Lagoons at Chukk Atoll

The view of the large Chukk motu lagoon area from the air was pretty neat. The water was exceptionally still thanks to the motu surrounding the Lagoon. You could even picture how still it was based on these photos. It has a complete absence of waves or water crests.

The Still Waters of the Chukk Lagoon
Small Isolated Islands in the Chukk Lagoon
Our Last Motu Reef Departing Chukk Lagoon

The Chukk motu lagoon would be our last views of the beautiful coral reefs on the United Island Hopper. Dependent if you’re outbound from the Island Hopper or inbound doing the Island Hopper on an eastward trajectory, this will be the last or first time of spotting these spectacular ocean reefs.


Food and Beverage: A Surprise Sandwich!

The flight between Chukk and Guam was a shorter 1 hour and 35 minutes end to end. To my surprise, a small ham and cheese sandwich on a cheese bun was offered. It was accompanied by another package of almonds and a fruit tart. Having brought my own nuts, I ate the sandwich but skipped the calories with the almonds that tasted ever so familiar by this point.

A Surprising Sandwich Snack on this Last Leg
A Cheese Bun Ham Sandwich
The Sun Setting after a Long Day of Flights

Landing cards for Guam were also passed out. As a Canadian traveller, I didn’t realize that it was considered a completely separate area of the United States with it’s own border controls and customs / immigration protections.

Territory of Guam Immigration and Customs Cards

Landing at Guam – Agana:

In the final minutes of our flight, we had a quick and sharp approach into Guam with a low altitude turn to line up with the runway Hong Kong Kai Tak style. Flying over the island at probably 2,500 feet, I got a look into the houses off the waterfront shores. They had a bit of a rough edge to them; the weather and the heat wasn’t too kind to a lot of the paint. It actually reminded me of looking down at houses in Tanzania or Nairobi.

My First Look at Guam
Arriving Back to the United States
Viewing Some Weathered Houses on Final Approach to Guam
Our Final Position Arriving into Guam

We arrived into a deserted airport at Guam Agana Antonio B Won Pat International Airport. It was a dated looking airport. After we had disembarked the plane, we were corralled into a semi permanent maze towards immigration.

Guam Antonio B Won Pat International Airport
A Semi Permanent Partition Greets Arriving International Travellers to Guam
“Hafa Adai” – Welcome to Guam

All in all, the last segment was among the quickest of the group. I was happy to get the legs moving again after all that cramped seating for the day. Looking back on it all, it was not too terribly bad but I was happy that did the whole trip on my own. I didn’t see or recognize any other travellers on this date doing the whole 5 segment journey with me. Aside from some adventurous standby’s exploring this part of the world, I was pretty much the only one on “through traffic” end to end Island Hopper today.

I cleared US Customs and Border Protection Immigration using Global Entry and navigated into the parking lot. The sun was just setting for the night so my Guam sunset experience would end up being from the airport parking lot.

Guam Antonio B Won Pat International Airport
Sunset in Guam from the Airport Parking Lot

After touching down after a five segment flight United Island Hopper, I would pick up a Hertz Rental Car and transfer myself over to The Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort prior to my returning flight home on United Airlines Guam – Honolulu. I’ll post my Top 5 Tips and Tricks for the United Island Hopper in a separate post that summarizes the whole experience.

My Thoughts on the United Island Hopper between Chukk – Guam:

The highlight of this segment between Chukk and Guam was the lagoon surrounding Chukk. It was among the larger lagoons that we’d see on the trip with the exception of the Majuro Atoll. I was a bit surprised to get a sandwich after all that way. Ultimately, this flight marked the end of a long day of flying; almost fourteen hours by the end of it. I was pretty happy to get to some still ground by the end of it.

If you’ve flown the United Island Hopper, which was your favourite stop ?

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