Travel Hell for Hawaii Bound Tourists

August 9, 2013

in Airport Stories

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.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

kimchiwench August 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Wow. I've never flown Hawaiian Air…and now I don't think I will.


Allen August 10, 2013 at 6:25 am

PLEASE follow up with a complaint in writing to Hawaiian. At the VERY least they need to pay for your hotel in LA since it was a mechanical problem. If you are not happy definitely file with the U.S. gov't and cc the letter to Hawaiian… Here is a good link:

From experience, once you file a complaint with the U.S. gov't Hawaiian will take your complaint MUCH more seriously….

What you need to reference is Hawaiian Airlines OWN contract of carriage:

the relevant part is:

Amenities/Services for Delayed Passengers
The carrier will assume the expenses outlined below for all passengers incurred as a result of cancellation, delay or interruption of any flight on which a passenger holds confirmed reservations. Passengers will be informed of the available amenities when a delay is expected to exceed 4 hours.
Hotel Rooms – HA will provide one-night's lodging at accommodation selected by HA when a passenger's delay is expected to exceed 4 hours and extend into the period 10:00 pm through 6:00 am, and no scheduled alternate transportation is available to the passenger's destination or stopover point. HA will not provide lodging for passengers who reside in the city where the interruption occurs.

Meals – Passengers will be furnished one meal voucher if the delay will extend beyond the four (4) hours. No alcoholic beverages will be furnished to any passengers.

Local Ground Transportation will be provided to the downtown area or from/to local hotel whichever is applicable.

Communications – One long distance telephone call will be allowed between any two points in the United States.

In lieu of the above, and subject to passenger's approval, HA will compensate the passenger with credit valid for the purchase of transportation. The credit will be valid for travel only on HA within 365 days of the date of issue and will apply only to online transportation via HA, may not be endorsed to or accepted by any other carrier and is not refundable to, saleable by, transferable by or assignable by the passenger.


HPM August 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

Thanks for taking the time to outline Hawaiian's contract of carriage. I have already contacted their customer service department about the hotel near LAX and the denial of the vouchers. If the situation isn't resolved satisfactorily, I will certainly forward the complaint to the U.S. government. The ground personnel in LA are largely rude, incompetent, and certainly unwilling to share any of this with inconvenienced passengers who were told repeatedly that no hotels were available. Ground transportation was never mentioned.They left a planeload of people – including families with infants and elderly in wheelchairs – stranded overnight at the gate.



Gregg August 10, 2013 at 11:12 am

Thanks for helping out Allen!


chuck August 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

Wow, no Hawaiin Air trips for me…Stick with the big carriers…What an el cheapo operation.


Jill August 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

Try contacting Christopher Elliott's site – he will intervene in many cases. Yours certainly sounds "intervention-worthy."


Gregg August 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Good idea Jill. Here's a link to his site: Elliott.


Gregg August 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Here’s yet Hawaiian Airlines screw-up: Hawaiian apologizes after Oahu child not allowed on Honolulu-bound flight. Kudos to Virgin America for helping the family out. (Also to @NASCAR_Hula for the story tip!)


HPM August 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Probably not a coincidence that the screw-up occurred in LA. The Hawaiian Air LA ground personnel are horrible. I didn't encounter a single one who acted in a professional/helpful manner. They treat customers as a nuisance to be barely tolerated.


Jason June 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

I think it’s great. Thanks for nice posting..


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