Monday, December 5, 2011

Why I cannot recommend Hawaiian Airlines

We got to the airport at 5:30 AM on Thursday.  We were still  there at this time the next day.
This is the full story of our over eighteen hour delay at the Seattle Airport.  In my initial blog post of photos of our over eighteen hour wait, I refrained from talking too negatively about them Hawaiian Airlines was nice enough to contact me to inform me they can do nothing, and then to state in a very intimidating way at the end of the letter that its contents cannot be shared.  Therefore, to keep their lawyers out of my hair, I am refraining from sharing the content of their lovely letter.

Actual stats from Bureau of Transportation Statistics regarding Hawaiian Air delays vs. Delta and Alaska on flights from Seattle to Honolulu from January-November 2011.  The orange bars are those of Hawaiian.  They represent far more minutes of delays.  They have few flights and more delays than the other major carriers.  

The broken plane.  It looked like they had Delta employees trying to fix it.
I cannot recommend them to anyone because I cannot guarantee your safety due to the fact that two of their airplanes had major malfunctions, which delayed us.  I also cannot guarantee that you will get to your destination on time.  You may end up missing an entire day of income like we did, while paying others to do your job and also paying for a condo you are not sleeping in while you lay on the floor of the airport with a blind man, his seeing eye dog, 5 grumpy children, 2 grandparents, 2 aunts an uncle and a cousin.   

On the floor of the terminal at 2 in the morning.


To Whom it Concerns,

I am requesting a full refund and free round trip e-ticket for each person in my family travelling on Hawaiian flight 21 from Seattle to Honolulu, November 17 2011.  

My young family of seven was among the customers affected by the major delays of this flight, caused by what we perceived to be gross negligence on the part of Hawaiian in planning for major mechanical breakdowns of not one, but two planes.  We are a very patient bunch, but when travel that should only take a few hours lasts 24 hours, it is exhausting.  I grew up in Hawaii, travelling often via Hawaiian air and other airlines to Indiana to see family.  Never in my life have I had a horrific delay such as this.  I would like to believe it is an anomaly, but from what other passengers on our flight were saying from personal experience, it is becoming the norm.  A blind man who was sitting in the terminal with us told us that recently he had the same unheard of length of delay with Hawaiian on another flight.  This was just one of many such instances we heard of while sharing our story.

We have five children, aged 3 to 13.  Our family was thankful for the food vouchers that were provided for use at the airport, otherwise the kids may have had a mutiny. They were the only thing that made the delay slightly bearable.  We have been preparing all year with our extended family for this trip.  We travelled not only with our five children, but with 3 aunts and uncles, 2 grandparents and a cousin.  You can imagine the expense put out for car, lodging and flight for all of us.  It took lots of eating beans and rice to be able to save for this special time for all of us to visit my parents in Makaha.  

 The hotel vouchers that were offered late into the delay were worthless.  We trekked with our family to wait in our Hawaii climate clothes for the Ramada van.  The van did not have functioning seatbelts, and we feared for the safety of our kids.  When we arrived, we found that out that this one van was supposed to transfer our entire flight of people back to the airport at departure time.  We were assigned a room on a smoking floor without our knowledge and a person from our flight was just walking out the door of the room as we tried to go in.  It was awkward and insulting to think that we with small children should be asked to stay in a room that reeked of cigarettes and would aggravate my husband's asthma.  The people from our flight who were leaving that room also had small children and asthma and had just asked to be moved.  We were moved to another room, but only stayed for 2 hours because we were concerned about the flood of people returning for the flight.  I was thankful for the half hour of sleep I got, however, and the fact that I didn't have to worry about losing my children in the airport for 2 hours.  My children, however, did not sleep and neither did my husband.  They were all cranky, sad and exhausted.  We returned to the terminal, only to board the plane for one hour, have 3 children and my husband fall asleep, and then have to wake them all to deplane due to another airplane mechanical failure.  My son thought we were in Hawaii and began to cry when he saw we were still in Washington.  My 3 year old begged to go home.  And the Hawaiian airlines employees offered us no hope, saying there was not another flight to be had.  We began to think we were going to lose our entire vacation.  We couldn't even go home because we had been driven to the airport.  We were miserable. We were forced to put our kids to sleep on the ground of the terminal.  The blind man and his seeing eye dog lay down near us.  The kids were cold, so I had to go ask the flight attendants to provide blankets.  We were thirsty, so we asked if water could be provided.  These things were provided only after our prompting.  Upon arrival in Hawaii, my legs and those of my husband's were grossly swollen for two days from all the sitting we did.  

I do not believe that the $300 vouchers we were provided for each ticket suffice to replace the loss we sustained by these delays.  Our family runs a business and we had to hire 3 people to take care of our affairs while we were away.  We purposely left early on a Thursday so that we would have time that day to rest, shop, and dive into vacationing on Friday.  Instead of arriving in Hawaii at 1:35 pm Thursday with lots of time to spare, we arrived somewhere around 8AM the following day.  I did not write it down because i was in such a haze of exhaustion from travelling so long with our clan.  We missed the first night of staying in our condo and could not get a refund.  We missed the first day of our car reservation.  My mom, a Hawaii resident, was going to spend Thursday afternoon with us, but instead we did not get to see her until the following day.  It took us that entire day to recover from jetlag.  My 8 year old did sleep walking and put himself in a dangerous situation.  He only does this when he is overly exhausted.  We understand that the emergency landing of the plane we were to originally to board occurred the night before our intended departure time and were appalled to find that there were no provisions made to inform passengers ahead of time of the situation or provide other means of transportation in the large amount of time Hawaiian had to problem solve.   We were shocked to find that Hawaiian does not keep airplane parts for repair at the terminals of each airport, and that Hawaiian used the precious time of its passengers to do repairs, rather than building it into their normal schedule. 

 I understand that Hawaiian is expanding its services with a nonstop flight from Hawaii to New York, and I noticed upon leaving Honolulu that expensive new check in computers and equipment has been implemented.  We can only assume that the bulk of Hawaiian's funds are being funneled into these endeavors instead of into maintaining their current fleet and managing its safety.  I write primarily out of concern for future flights.  If our flight was delayed not once, but twice by mechanical problems, it worries me that Hawaiian has a major mechanical failure looming on the horizon, one that would cost not only reservations and time, but lives.  I cannot knowingly continue to fly Hawaiian unless I can be reassured of the safety of its fleet, and that provisions have been made in case of unforeseen mechanical breakdown, so that I do not lose another precious chunk of time with my family in in Hawaii, and so I do not have to fear for the safety and lives of my children each time I fly.

Thank you,
Angela Donnelson, writing for my family


1 comment:

  1. Whoa. Thanks for the info. I definitely won't be flying Hawaiian air!


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