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5 Reasons to Add a Hawaii Stopover on Your Way Home From Asia and the South Pacific

July 14, 2019
6 min read
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Whether you vault over the Arctic or soar for hours over the blues of the Pacific Ocean, transpacific flights can be a chore — yes, even for AvGeeks. Not only are some of these flights among the longest in aviation, crossing the international date line wreaks havoc with your sense of time.

But if you plan your flights right, the next time work or play takes you from the US to various points in Asia, Australia, New Zealand (and back again), it's a great excuse for a stopover in Hawaii. Here's how to make the international date line work for you, instead of against you.

1. It Breaks Up a (Really, Really) Long Flight

The best part of adding a Hawaiian stopover to your return flight? You turn one loooooooong flight into two shorter and more manageable ones. As a bonus, those segments also usually mean more miles accrued overall — definitely a win-win.

Particularly for East Coasters heading to Australia and New Zealand, the Hawaii stopover is a game changer. Getting to Sydney (SYD) from a New York City-area airport, for example, may involve a six-hour transcontinental flight followed by a 15-hour international flight.

Instead of slogging through the reverse on your return, when you book a multi-segment trip via Qantas — which offers five flights per week from Sydney to Honolulu (HNL) and will earn you Oneworld points — the flights look something like this: SYD to HNL (overnight, nine and a half hours), followed by a Hawaii stopover followed by HNL to LAX (five and a half hours), followed by LAX to New York (another five and a half hours).

Similar multi-segment itineraries can be booked on Air New Zealand, which offers daily flights from Auckland (AKL) to Honolulu (and will earn you Star Alliance miles).

2. Honolulu Is a Gateway Hub

While we tend to think of Hawaii as a destination in and of itself, Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is a major gateway to the US from destinations further east and south, as well as for flights inbound from the US mainland, so it’s actually an ideal stopover destination.

According to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, between April and June 2019 alone, there were 780,336 scheduled seats, representing 2,916 flights inbound for Hawaii that crossed the international date line — which breaks down to more than 200 flights per week on a total of 16 carriers with flights from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Fiji.

Hawaiian Airlines alone has 42 fights a week inbound for Honolulu that jump the date line, including daily flights from Sydney and Osaka, Japan (KIX); 11 flights per week from Tokyo Haneda (HND); five flights per week from Seoul, South Korea (ICN); and three flights weekly from Brisbane, Australia (BNE), Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) and Hokkaido, Japan (CTS). The airline also offers three flights weekly from Tokyo Haneda to Kona, Hawaii (KOA).

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Hawaii's Halona Blowhole near Honolulu. (Photo by Anthony Giustino / Getty Images)
Hawaii's Halona Blowhole near Honolulu is a great place to check out on your layover. (Photo by Anthony Giustino / Getty Images)

3. Speaking of Hawaiian Airlines ...

Though Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t have an official stopover promotion in place, such as those offered by Turkish Airlines or Qatar Airways that include accommodations on the ground, Hawaiian Airlines flyers going to or from the airline's nine international destinations can get a free stopover in Honolulu on each leg, whether outbound or return, if they use the multi-city option when booking on Hawaiian's website.

And that's the key travel hack here: Booking a multi-city or multi-segment trip lets you design a flight itinerary that includes 24, 48, 72 hours or more on the ground in Hawaii on your return for a minimal difference in cost. Think of it as a two-for-one vacation.

(Photo by Simon Rae / Unsplash)
Before you make the long haul to Sydney's Bondi Beach, be sure to book your stop over in Hawaii for a multi-segment trip. (Photo by Simon Rae / Unsplash)

4. You Can Fly ANA's New A380

Other major news for Hawaii (and all the more reason to connect through Honolulu en route to Tokyo): On May 24, ANA’s first Airbus A380 made its debut on thrice-weekly service between Tokyo's Narita Airport (NRT) and Honolulu. When the carrier’s second A380 entered service on July 1, ANA began offering 10 roundtrip flights per week on the brand-new planes — an AvGeek’s dream indeed.

“We already have strong demand for the Tokyo-Honolulu route — not only among couples [and] honeymooners, but also families, high-end customers, group tours and a wide variety of customers,” an ANA spokesperson said. “We believe that the A380 will be instrumental in expanding our resort strategy as we seek to increase our market share by doubling the number of seats connecting Honolulu and Tokyo.”

5. It's a Cure for Jet Lag … Kind Of

And finally we come to jet lag — or the relative lack thereof. By time of day (morning, midday, afternoon, evening), Honolulu is likely significantly more in line with your Asia-Pacific point of departure than your home time zone, wherever that may be. The major difference here is that Hawaii lies on the opposite side of the international date line.

For example: 7:44am Friday in Sydney is 11:44am Thursday in Honolulu, while 7:10am Saturday in Tokyo is 12:10pm on Friday. New Zealand is a whole 22 hours ahead of Hawaii by time zones, so 8:49am Friday in Auckland is 10:49am in Honolulu — yes, the day before. Departing on an overnight flight from any of these destinations, you land in Honolulu in the morning hours — on the same day you left.

It’s basically "Groundhog Day," set in paradise.