Island Air CEO says best time to get $49 standby deal is first flight of the day

Written by: 
Nathan Graham & Guy Baxter

Local Hawaiian airline Island Air offers discounted standby tickets for students traveling to Kaui, Maui, and the Big Island for $49 one way.

David Uckiahama, CEO of Island Air, advised students considering flying standby to always take the first flight in the morning or the last flight in the evening to ensure a spot. “Want some advice? Take the first flight of the day because then you won’t be standby… you’re almost guaranteed to make it on.”

Marianna Rudyk, a sophomore in political science from Ukraine, shared her experience flying standby on Island Air while flying to Kaui. Rudyk said, “We went on Memorial Day weekend, which looking back probably wasn’t the best idea. Once we arrived at the airport we realized that if we flew standby we would have to wait the whole day, so we bought tickets. Some of our friends ended up waiting the whole night to get a spot.

“We planned to arrive home Monday, but because it was Memorial Day weekend we couldn’t because there were no available seats. So we left Tuesday without a problem.”

From her experience, Rudyk shared, “It’s best to fly standby on weekdays, not weekends and most definitely not on holidays. Also, I would recommend that you call ahead of time to make sure there is availability on the flight you wish to take, but don’t check online–it’s never up to date.”

To fly standby for $49, a customer must be a student, present their student ID card at the airport, speak with an Island Air representative who will give you a standby ticket. If there is an open seat, the student will be able to board.

Brighson Tolentino, a recent marketing graduate of BYU-Hawaii and employee of Island Air, said, “I feel like everyone here at BYU-Hawaii has a need to explore Hawaii outside of Laie, especially students who are on tight budgets. Our regular flights can be up to $100 one way, flying standby can save you hundreds.”

“As students, we are constantly trying to save every cent possible. Many of my friends have recommended flying standby. I would also recommend it to students who are looking to save money and don’t mind missing class. But if you want to make sure that you come back at a certain time or date, make sure you buy a ticket in advance.”

Having used Island Air to island hop, students said their mini vacations were full of adventures and memorable experiences..

Brenden Schilling, a sophomore in biomedicine from California, said, “Island hopping is great for getting away and finding new adventures. I tend to go between Maui, the Big Island, and Molokai, and there is anything you can think of from snowboarding on Mauna Kea to hunting in Molokai. There are always so many good memories and new experiences to be had all over Hawaii.”

Luline Nunu, manager of Travel Services at BYUH, said students should take advantage of this opportunity because “Hawaii is so beautiful and each island is different.” She suggested students “read up on the islands beforehand and see what’s the latest happening there.”

Mikey Mullen, a senior in business management from Utah, said he loves to island hop “because it’s fun to get away for a weekend and see what the other islands have to offer.”

He said he has been traveling between islands since he first arrived at BYUH three years ago. “Some of my best memories are doing things like roasting marshmallows over lava on the Big Island or swimming with hundreds of dolphins on the island of Lanai. It’s cool how different every island is.

One of the biggest rewards from making these trips are “developing friendships with the people that you go with,” Mullen shared. “Four days together and by the end of the trip you are like family.”

Mullen recommended, “Make sure you choose the right group of people to go with. [Go with] people who don’t complain and are down for whatever. Make sure you do your research ahead of time and have each person in the group choose something specific they want to do on the trip.”

According to the site Love Big Island, travelers should do the following three things: choose a direct flight when possible, focus on connecting your flight to your schedule more than finding the cheapest flight, and choose different airports for arrival and departure to minimize driving distance.

Mullen said, “It’s always helpful to sit down that first day, make a game plan for the weekend, and then just hit it hard.”

According to Island Air’s website, “Island Air first took off in 1980, under the name of Princeville Airways, with two DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft providing scheduled service between Honolulu and Kauai’s Princeville airport. Service was gradually extended to small community destinations on other islands, and by early 1987, the fleet had grown to eight planes.” Since Island Air has been purchased in 2012 they have all new planes, the site adds.

The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy on Oct. 16 after losing money for 17 consecutive quarters, according to a report from the Honolulu Star Advertiser, but will still fly its scheduled routes and honor its purchased tickets and rewards programs.

Date Published: 
Monday, November 6, 2017
Last Edited: 
Monday, November 6, 2017