July 23rd arrive LAX 11:00 AM for a 1:30 PM Hawaiian Air flight to Maui. Board reads “On Time.”
At 1:30 there is still no plane at the gate. Announcement: Mechanical problem will delay flight. Next update will be at 3.
3:00 PM announcement: Part needed is at LA/Ontario Airport and will be brought in by car in rush hour traffic.
5:00 PM announcement: Part is in traffic jam on freeway.
6:00 PM announcement: Part has arrived. Possible take-off at 7:30.
7:30 PM announcement: Gate change.
8:00 PM announcement: Busses will take passengers to a remote terminal to board plane.
8:30 PM announcement: Another mechanical problem has been found in the cockpit, flight may or may not take off.
9:00 PM announcement: Plane is grounded. Airline is exploring the possibility of flying in another plane from Hawaii. No hotel vouchers are available. Passengers are urged to see ironically named “customer service” agents.
At 9:30 I reach front of “customer service” line. After many key strokes and puzzled expressions, agent informs me he can rebook my party of 3 on a 10 AM flight the next morning. I ask for a written confirmation. The printer is broken. He disappears for 15 minutes and returns with a confirmation minus seat assignments. He assures me we have 33CEG.
After making numerous calls, I locate a room at a Marriott 20 minutes away. Head hits pillow in Torrance, California at midnight.
Up at 7. Back at airport before 8. Approach Hawaiian Air check-in and am informed we are on STAND BY for the 10 AM. I blow a gasket. But, but… we were told we were confirmed. Wrong! I refuse to leave the counter without boarding passes. This takes a half hour, during which agent makes many trips to the other end of the counter to speak with his supervisor. Boarding passes finally materialize.
Upstairs we watch people finally boarding our original flight at 9 AM. They are boarding the plane which should have been used for our 10 AM flight. I speak with several passengers who stuck it out overnight. They told us police had been brought in to keep the peace because some tired, angry travelers threatened Hawaiian Air ground personnel.
10:00 AM: No plane at our gate. Announcement – mechanical issues will delay the flight 2 hours. You guessed it. They are putting the 10 AM passengers on the mechanically challenged plane from the prior day.
11:15 AM announcement: Passengers will be bussed out to plane as soon as it is cleared by maintenance. I approach the podium and ask if inconvenienced passengers from the previous day’s flight were given vouchers for future travel. I am handed three vouchers and told they are worth $300 each.
Noon: Finally board plane. Lost one hotel night Maui ($315), had to also pay for the Torrance hotel ($279), and had an increase in rental car rate because weekly rate discount no longer applied. Lost a full day of a much-anticipated 40th anniversary trip to Maui.
Upon return to LA six days later, I called Hawaiian Air to validate my vouchers – not that I have any immediate plans to use them. The kicker is that Hawaiian Air is refusing to honor them, using the bogus excuse that I was not inconvenienced because I was (I kid you not) “re-accommodated.” It was pure travel hell. Never again.