Crossing the Pacific in a 737: the United Airlines Island Hopper

i’ve long considered the Island Hopper an #avgeek (someone who geeks out about aviation) and travel enthusiast rite of passage. these routes used to belong to Air Micronesia, a part of Continental, which got folded into United’s operations when they merged a while back.

in a nutshell, the Island Hopper route, which is only fully flown a couple times a week at most, starts in Honolulu or Guam and makes brief stops on islands that have a historical connection to the United States. i think i was able to piece together an itinerary with as many stops as possible to cross the Pacific, or close to it. it required an overnight in Honolulu (oh boo hoo) and then travel the full next day (about 24 hours total for me to get from Honolulu to Manila, i think?). the Island Hopper is a single flight number that most people apply to the Honolulu-Guam flight with five intermediate stops, but i found a flight to Manila that stops in Koror, Palau for extra hopping pleasure. and yes, the HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-ROR-MNL flights are all on 737s. i won’t cover the Guam to Palau to Manila flights here because it was pretty normal, and it was at night so you really couldn’t take pictures anyways.

i booked this as a round trip from San Francisco to Manila — if you book it on days the Island Hopper runs, it will give you that flight as an option on the United website, for a minimal extra cost, if any. fwiw i paid $760 roundtrip.

but why would i do this? (you’ll get that question a lot…) because. just because. and because the views were supposed to be beautiful — and they were. honestly, if you can’t get a window seat, don’t even bother.

Just leaving Honolulu — flying by Waikiki on our first hop.

i’m not going to belabor the Island Hopper itself since there are a ton of other trip reports on it, but i’ll make some brief points about my experience:

food and beverage in economy

 connectivity at each stop

t-mobile free international roaming doesn’t work at any of them.


the planes are 737s with the new signature slimine interior. there is seatback entertainment in all rows and power plugs in Economy Plus (and first class). there are less than a dozen looping movies for the entire flight. you know, though, time passed a lot quicker than i expected; most of the hops were about an hour long.

to majuro

to kwajalein

someone’s unclaimed carry-on being taken off the plane. don’t be this person!

to kosrae

to pohnpei

this was one of the segments where the right side might be better, but don’t quote me on that.

to chuuk

they save the best for last.

to guam

alas, because of the way the sun was now hitting my window, there was a lot of reflection so the pictures didn’t come out that well. there’s a wonderful V-shaped island though — keep your eyes peeled for it!

as i’m sure you would hear from anyone who has done The Hopper, you have to see it to really experience the beauty. pictures truly can’t do it justice!

p.s. thanks to United’s Guam hub, there may be some cool options for you to come back! i was originally scheduled to do MNL-GUM-HNL (overnight)-SFO, but managed to do a same day change when i arrived at Guam to go Guam-Tokyo-San Francisco (direct), with a day in Tokyo! and the great lounge agent was able to keep my upgrade. two thumbs way way up.

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