A bumpy ride on Hawaiian Airlines
On our recent trip to the Sandwich Islands, we used Hawaiian Airlines. The in-flight service and entertainment were first-rate, but we had some real problems with the corporate machinery of this airline that are worthy of internet notice.
First, Hawaiian Airlines employed a blatant bait-and-switch in getting our business to begin with. Long in advance, we signed up and paid for direct flights in both directions between Portland and Maui. But many weeks after our booking and payment -- after all the other airlines' seats on direct flights were gone -- Hawaiian broke the news to us that we were changing planes in Honolulu on the way home. We didn't like that -- hours of R&R time taken away from us without compensation -- but what could we do?
Strike 2 came when we started getting odd, pestering e-mails in the dead of night cheerily reminding us that we could check our reservation any time on line. We figured there was no need -- we had a confirmation number, assigned seats, and an itinerary -- but when we finally gave in to the e-mail messages and checked, we found to our disappointment that Hawaiian had reassigned our family to new seats on one of the flights, and they were no longer all together. When we called to straighten this out, we were jerked around for a long time. It took harsh words and a lot of transfers of our call to get us four seats together.
Some of the people who answer the phone at Hawaiian are not easy to deal with. They give off a seriously passive-aggressive vibe. When you try to get a straight answer from them, suddenly they are seized by the aloha spirit, so much so that useful information is not forthcoming.
When we checked in for the flight home, Hawaiian had a faulty printer that would not produce the baggage claim checks for the person behind the counter to stick onto our suitcases. The attendant, for whom English did not appear to be the native language, spent five minutes staring at the machine in confusion. Then she started typing away for an eternity on a keyboard, refusing to speak to us or make any eye contact with us, even for a second. After 10 minutes of standing there, we got luggage tags, but no explanation of any kind, much less an apology. We boarded the plane thinking that it would be a miracle if we saw our bags when we landed in Portland. (They did make it, though.)
The final insult was that on the long flight home, from Honolulu, two of us had been given seats that did not recline. This was an adjunct to the bait-and-switch maneuver that brought us to Honolulu in the first place. Of course, we weren't told about the nonreclining seats at all -- we discovered them as we sat down in them.
Oh well. They got us there and back, and as we say, the service and entertainment was great. But if we're lucky enough to head out to Polynesia again sometime, we'll definitely be seeing what the other airlines have to offer.