A loungeless layover in Honolulu

What to do in Honolulu with a three hour layover? This was the question nine of us were faced with in the middle of a ridiculous weekend mileage run. There were more than enough different cards available to grant lounge access but, quite frankly, the lounges there aren’t anything special and we were looking for something better, something different, something to eat.

The solution was a quick walk over to the L&L just off the airport property, past the car rental lots. No, it isn’t the best plate lunch in Hawaii but we didn’t have time to get over to Rainbow Drive-In or anything else too far afield. It was close by and better than any of the options inside the airport. Plus it gave us an excuse to walk around and get some fresh air.

Even better for us, one of the guys had a friend picking him up for the layover and she arrived in a pick-up truck. That meant we got a ride over to the restaurant rather than having to walk it. Bonus!


"Lunch" was just as expected. Quite filling and reasonably tasty. I actually branched out from my normal Mixed BBQ plate and added on an order of Korean chicken wings. The wings took a while to be cooked but they were delicious. Just a bit sweet in addition to crispy fried.


After the meal we headed back in to the airport. We made it to the US Airways check-in area and proceeded to confuse the heck out of a number of different agents as we each attempted to check in and address potential issues in out itineraries. Mine had the same HNL-PHX segment in it twice and others were working to get bumps or otherwise change flights. A trail of chaos followed in our wake, though the agents did seem to handle it reasonably well, all things considered. We were down to five now, with a bit more than an hour prior to the flight. The only lounge option was at the far end of the airport and, again, just not worth the schlep. Instead we headed downstairs into the garden area and settled in at one of the gazebos.


There we sat, under the watchful eye of Sun Yat Sen, relaxing in the cool Hawaiian breezes until it was time to make the way to the gate.


Yeah, we hit a bar along the way and actually paid for beers before the flight rather than getting freebies in the lounge. I still think we came out ahead on the deal. Lounges are fine, I suppose, but there really are better options out there when you’ve got a couple hours to kill.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Almost anything is better than the nasty UA lounge at HNL. They really need to gut that place and start over.

  2. We’re going to try scooting over to La Mariana when we make a similar mileage run at the end of the month, but it’s nice to know about closer options in case our flight is delayed at all. Can’t wait to see what glitches show up on our reservations!

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