Until 2014 most United Airlines flights to Hawaii featured the “Halfway to Hawaii game” where you could win a bottle of champagne. It was around only sporadically in more recent years, and often at the discretion of the crew.
Passengers would be invited to guess the exact time they’d be halfway across the ocean to Hawaii. Some would just take a close enough guess by listening to the pilot’s announced flight time, cutting it in half, and adding that to the departure time.
However others took it as a more complex math problem factoring information from the captain such as the altitude they’d be flying; flight time; takeoff time; total trip distance; air speed; and headwinds. There was even an app for calculating this. At one point they would give away a Fodor’s travel guide.
United went looking for a sponsor to pay them to run the game during the Jeff Smisek era effort to cut $2 billion in costs that was given the Newspeak name ‘Project Quality.’ They came up empty.
They dropped Halfway To Hawaii around 2014, which was sad. Passengers are usually in a festive mood as they head out to Hawaii. There’s something special about these flights. And it’s nice when airlines recognize that, even in a modest way.
However the airline brought the game back on certain flights in the fall with Hawaii’s re-opening, and a new prize is coming March 3.
Live and Let’s Fly shares a flight attendant memo explaining that as a Covid precaution the game is currently ‘on the honor system’.
To minimize touch points and guarantee consistency across routes, ensure you play the game as an “honor system.” To do this, use the PA to communicate game rules and other information.
The only time you should approach a customer for any game-related interaction is to verify the answers of the first six people to press their call buttons and distribute prizes. Customers wishing to participate must use their own resources for working out the solution, whether on paper or their own personal electronic devices. In previous versions of the game, flight attendants distributed pencils and paper, but under our updated procedures, if asked, please inform customers that you are unable to meet this request.
Starting next month the winner of each game will receive a Polaris business class cooling gel pillow, the kind that flight attendants were once told to stop passengers from stealing.
The pillow is part of what I’ve said for some time has been the best business class bedding in the sky, so good it’s almost hard to believe it’s United.