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Hawaii, part 1: The logistics

November 17th, 2011

(Part 1 of a multi-part look at the Hawaii leg of the trip.  Broken into bite-sized chunks because, let’s face it, you’d probably just skim a 2000-word monolith.)

Hello, Hawaii.  Land of sandy beaches, verdant forests, and ice hockey.  Yes, hockey.

Hawaii has always been a pivotal role in the Pacific [sic]. It is in the Pacific.  It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here.

— Dan Quayle, former US Vice President

I hadn’t always planned to include Hawaii on this trip.  Up until September or so, my route included every Canadian province and every American state, except Hawaii.

Fortunately, I came to my senses. It would have been a tragedy for the story of the trip to be marred by an “except Hawaii” qualifier.  That, and Hawaii is a great place to visit even without hockey.  What had I been thinking?

Hawaii! Beautiful even without hockey. A hill on the windward shore of Oahu.

The Logistics

Well, the logistics and cost were two big problems.  The single ice arena in Hawaii was in Honolulu, and for some reason it hosted no hockey in the month of December.  Since I wanted to complete the trip by Christmas, and since most of October would be spent in Canada, that meant that Hawaii would have to happen in November — but not over Thanksgiving weekend, when, again, there was no hockey.

Lake Superior coast in northern Minnesota in November. (Edit: This is a joke, people! Minnesota is actually much more beautiful.)

In order to keep costs reasonable, the flight needed to originate at an airline hub, and given that I’d be on the East Coast, that effectively limited my choices to Dulles (a United hub) or Atlanta (a Delta hub).  Fortunately, my planned arrival in Washington, D.C. coincided with a flight to Hawaii that was 20% cheaper than on neighboring dates. (Thank you, Hipmunk!)  I booked the ticket and only then realized that my savings would be short-lived: United Airlines hates hockey goalies.

The Fact that United Airlines Hates Hockey Goalies

Why does United hate goalies?  Quite simply, the luggage restrictions are incompatible with hockey goalie gear.  While it might (might!) be possible to fit a skater’s gear within the 50 pound and 62 linear inch restrictions, there’s no way that a goalie could pull that off with a single bag.  The leg pads packed alone would be about at the size limit, to say nothing of the rest of the pads.

There’s a simple solution, you say?  Wear my gear onto the plane?  Well, that would be hilarious and solve my checked-luggage issues.

Assume that I could somehow get through security with 12-inch steel blades on my feet.  Let’s also say that high-density foam wouldn’t look like explosives on those new-fangled body scanners.  Furthermore, accept that the TSA wouldn’t go ballistic over my sticks, since though they might appear club-like, using them in that manner is something that I’ve never been caught doing in a game.

Sadly, I can't really draw, not least of a goalie going through security, so here's one of my old comics of a penguin trying to fly. Ha-ha, ha-ha.

Once on the plane, my woes would be multiple.  For starters, I wouldn’t fit in a seat: the width of each leg pad is 11 inches, and the width of an economy seat on a United 767 is only 18 inches — 4 inches shy, at the least, and that’s completely ignoring the extra bulk of the goalie pants.  And if you thought that leg room was bad to begin with, just image how it would be with huge pillows on your legs.  My seat neighbors would be thrilled, too: it would be like sitting next to that really, really, really obese guy, but much worse.

Also, can you imagine the smell?  By the end of the many hours in the air, it would be good that I’d have so much padding on, because everybody around me would be looking to beat the hockey out of me.

On the plus side, I don’t think I’d need the extra flotation provided by a life vest in the event of a water landing.

Clearly, checking the gear was the way to go.  I just wish I didn’t get docked an extra $100 each way for being a goalie.

Here are a few airlines that would have let me flown with my goalie gear without charging me oversize or overweight fees:

  • Delta
  • US Airways
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Air Canada (duh)

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

(to be continued)

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