Aloha Airlines

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Worst Flight Ever
Posted by on
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- Dear Aloha Airlines Customer Relations:

I am writing to express my disappointment with my experience with Aloha Airlines during my flight (#486) from San Diego to Kauai on February 24, 2008. Several events of this flight made it truly the worst flight I have ever taken.

First, after boarding, all the passengers sat there for about 45 minutes waiting with no communication from any Aloha staff member about why we weren’t taking off yet. Then the pilot finally came on and announced that we had to wait and see if we were going to take on passengers from the Maui flight because apparently something was wrong with their plane. The Maui passengers eventually boarded and 2 hours later, we finally took off for Kauai.

About 20 minutes before getting to the Hawaiian Islands, the pilot announced that instead of landing in Kauai, we were going to land on the Big Island because our plane had to make it back to Orange County. From there, all the Kauai passengers would take a smaller plane (which was “waiting for us”) over to Kauai. He also mentioned that once we deplane, there would be an Aloha representative to take us to the Kauai plane. This was upsetting because we had paid extra to take a direct flight to Kauai.

To make things worse, when all the passengers deplaned, there was no Aloha rep on ground to tell us where to go. There was a huge state of confusion among all the passengers and the Aloha staff. About 15 minutes later, a large group of the Kauai passengers followed a rep over to one of the gates. There was no direct announcement made to the passengers; I just noticed that most of my fellow passengers were heading in a certain direction. When I approached one of the passengers to find out what was happening, she stated that the Kauai passengers were lied to because there was no plane for us to get to Kauai. The rep had told them that we would have to take a plane to Honolulu and then transfer over to Kauai from there.

Once again, I’d like to reiterate that we paid the extra money for a direct flight. So not only were we going to have to make one transfer, but two! We were supposed to be in Kauai by 12pm. When we landed in Kona, it was 3 already.

I couldn’t believe that a major airline would treat so many of its customers in such a horrible fashion. There were about 70 Kauai passengers that Aloha airlines outraged that day with its unprofessional conduct and poor service. Someone in upper management made a poor decision that day in bouncing us around. Not only was there a 2 hour delay in taking off and two unplanned transfers, but Aloha’s staff made things worse by

(1) lying to the passengers on the plane by telling us that there would be a plane in Kona that would take us directly to Kauai. I’m sure they knew full well that the plane was not going to be able to accommodate everyone onboard.
(2) not being organized and prepared to direct the passengers once we deplaned. Why wasn’t a staff member on ground ready to round up the passengers and inform them of what was to happen? About half of us found out by asking our fellow passengers.

Because of this unbelievably terrible experience, my husband and I will never fly Aloha again.
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spiderman2 on 03/07/2008:
It couldn't have been the worst flight ever if you didn't crash. THAT would be the worst flight. Extremely inconvenient, but not a tragic event.
MRM on 03/07/2008:
Spiderman, long time, no see!
Anonymous on 03/07/2008:
Well, it was a bad day but look at it this way you got to see three islands for the price of one. It's to bad Aloha jerked you around, we use them out of John Wayne and they always seem to be on time and do a good job. See if you can get some vouchers or something from them, never hurts to ask for something when your write a complaint letter.
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Thank you George Bush from Aloha Airlines - Mahalo Nui Loa
Posted on

HONOLULU: Aloha Airlines announced today that it will be shutting down its inter-island and transpacific passenger flight operations. Aloha’s last day of operations will be Monday, March 31, 2008. On that day, Aloha will operate its schedule with the exception of flights from Hawaii to the West Coast and flights from Orange County to Reno and Sacramento, and Oakland to Las Vegas. Code-share partner United Airlines and other airlines are prepared to assist and accommodate Aloha’s passengers who have been inconvenienced.

For more information on United’s accommodation options, contact United at 1-800-UNITED1 or Passengers who do not wish to be re-accommodated by another airline should contact their travel agent or credit card company to request a refund. Effective immediately, Aloha will stop selling tickets for travel beyond March 31, 2008.

The shutdown of Aloha’s passenger operations will affect about 1,900 employees. Aloha also announced that its air cargo and aviation services units will continue to operate as usual while the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeks bids from potential buyers. On March 27, 2008, Saltchuk Resources, Inc., announced its intention to buy Aloha’s air cargo business.

This is an incredibly dark day for Hawaii, said David A. Banmiller, Aloha’s president and chief executive officer. Despite the groundswell of support from the community and our elected officials, we simply ran out of time to find a qualified buyer or secure continued financing for our passenger business. We had no choice but to take this action.

We deeply regret the impact this will have on our dedicated employees who have made Aloha one of the best operating airlines in the country. Aloha Airlines was founded in 1946 to give Hawaii's people a choice in inter-island air transportation.

Unfortunately, unfair competition has succeeded in driving us out of business, bringing to an end a 61-year-old company with a proud legacy of serving millions of travelers in the true spirit of Aloha. We realize that this comes as a devastating disappointment to our frequent fliers and our loyal business partners who have supported this company for many, many years.
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Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
Their competition was with a cut-rate airline. But what's your complaint have to do with Emperor Bush? Not that I have any intention to defend but I don't see the connection.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
Emperor Bush helped put the screws to this airline by not paying attention to the fuel cost crises and his administrations disastrous policies. GWB was not all to blame of course but his administration is part of the reason we will see a lot more of this. Levitz Furniture, Wickes Furniture, Bear Sterns, the list is going to get very long!
Suusan B. on 03/31/2008:
Agreed, superbowl - - and let's not forget my personal favorite - - subprime mortgages.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
I think there is also a ferry that started running between islands that was cheaper than flying. That couldn't have helped either. When we lived in Maui, I remember reading about how the local airlines were going to be hurt by that.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
We have family on the big island, they won't be getting anymore $129 airfares on Aloha. United and Hawaiian Air are going to jack up the fares now. Plus we just lost our local airline to and from Hawaii. Back to LAX to get to Hawaii again.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
Super, doesn't Hawaiian Air fly out of OC? We used to fly them out of PDX because they have a direct flight to Maui and their prices were usually pretty good. That would suck to have to drive to LA.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
No, Aloha was the only ticket in town.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
Well, super, that does suck. For some reason, I thought John Wayne Int'l had more flights than that. Maybe now that Aloha is going, Hawaiian will be awarded the route. You never know. I'm sure it would be profitable for them.
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
Why does this site keep double posting?
Anonymous on 03/31/2008:
It's sad what is happening with Aloha. In fact, there are a lot of sad things going on with today's economy. When we would go to Hawaii, Aloha was our airline both to the islands, and on the inter-island flights. Aside from being sad for my wallet because the costs will go up, I feel for the 1,800 or more employees that may lose their jobs. :(
Anonymous on 04/01/2008:
I fail to see the connection between King George the Bushlet and the cessation of operations by Aloha. UNLESS, one is calling for yet more government intervention in business (to 'save' the business). Of course, Good King George issued his 218 page plan for the Federal Reserve (you know, the issuers of valueless currency) to take a more active role in the economy. What can possibly go wrong?
bargod on 04/01/2008:
Good stuff.(VH)
Anonymous on 04/01/2008:
What are we as a nation doing to ourselves?
Thank's to more taxes then we the people can handle.
Mrs. V on 04/02/2008:
Are there 'any' Republicans on this board???

Anonymous on 04/02/2008:
just you
Mrs. V on 04/04/2008:
I'm an independent, actually.
Anonymous on 04/04/2008:
Mrs. V, I'm an independent too.
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This Company Can't be Trusted
Posted by on
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA -- In June 2007, I decided to go to Hawaii on vacation with my family. I searched Hotwire, which I had used before to get tickets at a good price, and found 4 reasonably-priced tickets on Aloha Airlines, which were for flights that left from Oakland, stopped at Kona-Kailua, where I planned to stay, and then continued on to Honolulu. The return flight started in Honolulu, stopped at Kona-Kailua, and proceeded on to Oakland. Since I'd heard that airlines sometimes objected to passengers using only a portion of the flight they'd booked, I took the trouble to call Aloha Airlines and ask if there was any problem with my avoiding Honolulu and just using the Oakland/Kona and Kona/Oakland portion of the itinerary. I was assured by the person answering the phone at Aloha that this wouldn't be a problem at all, so I proceeded to book the flights.

Trusting in what I'd been told by the Aloha representative, I was shocked to be told by gate agent Mae Fihiki, upon checking in with our baggage, that to do what I had been told was "no problem" would now cost us an extra $125 per ticket in "change fees", which I was forced to pay on the spot with my credit card.

To me, this seemed like a major problem, but since I'd made no alternate arrangements (like purchasing much less expensive Honolulu-Kona tickets from Go Airlines) and since our flight was about to leave, I had no alternative but to pay up. (Needless to say, the unanticipated extra $500 put a major dent in our carefully-planned vacation budget, forcing us to economize on our activities on the Island).

Looking online, I found two numbers for Aloha's "customer service" department, but was disappointed when nobody answered (although the call was well within the airline's stated business hours) , and the machine wouldn't even take a message. But with persistence, after numerous attempts, I finally reached Aloha representative "Terri Ann" (who wouldn't give her last name) . I found her attitude to be far from the "aloha spirit" that advertising had led me to expect. She seemed to have no interest in the fact that I had been misled by her company's employee, and concentrated on browbeating me, asking rhetorically why anyone would book a ticket written for an ultimate destination that they didn't intend to visit. When I explained that this was a Hotwire ticket, and that I didn't see any tickets offered there that were just Oakland-to-Kona and back, she said that I could have bought a ticket from Aloha like that. Yes, I replied, but that would have cost a lot more money. At this point she pounced, as if she had scored some sort of victory in our debate, and accused me of trying to "manipulate" their system. When I asked what was wrong with trying to save a little money, she began abusing me further, and it became evident that she had little interest in preserving Aloha's reputation as far as I was concerned. (So much for the "customer first" policy Aloha brags about on their site.)

Possibly these last-minute "change fees" make an important contribution to the airline's bottom line, offsetting the income that they lose by selling off tickets to discounters, and what happened to me was all according to plan. Otherwise, it's hard to account for this airline's behavior in this instance. Really, I'm hard pressed to think of any transaction outside of the airline industry in which one is charged more for consuming less of a company's products or services. If a restaurant charged you extra for not finishing your meal, or a car rental company imposed extra fees for not driving a specified number of miles each day, you would think it absurd, but this is exactly what the airline is doing in this case. Presumably, they could have sold the seats for the unused portion of my flights and made more money - actually, since airlines routinely "overbook" their flights, it's likely that they will be doing this anyway, making money coming and going, as it were. But absurd or not, the fact that I was told by a company representative that my proposed itinerary was acceptable would negate any "change fee" imposed by a company that wished to retain a reputation for fairness to its customers.

Since I'm sure my call was recorded "in order to better serve you", I wonder why, if my account of it was in doubt, the "customer service" agent didn't offer to retrieve the tape, instead of berating me for attempting to save a few bucks. Evidently, this is a company that is purely focused on short-term profit, that cares little about its customers or what they think of it. I'm sorry I didn't know this before dealing with them, or I would have flown on a competing airline and saved a lot of money as well as considerable aggravation.
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trumania on 08/01/2007:
Companies that record phone conversations are record them randomly and there is no way to retrieve a specific phone conversation. I know this from experience.

And just to inform you of the really bad positions airlines are into right now, typically with the raise in cost of gas and other expenses airlines pay for they typically make less than $25.00 per passenger. They are not making any profit at all.

I understand you called a rep to check if it was okay, but even then you probably should have cancelled the 2nd half anyway. Typically if you miss the first flight they will cancel you for all the remaining connections. It's asking for trouble really.

Anonymous on 08/01/2007:
Were you not going to check any bags for a vacation in Hawaii?
Dedicated Reader on 08/01/2007:
You wrote, "Really, I'm hard pressed to think of any transaction outside of the airline industry in which one is charged more for consuming less of a company's products or services."

This is very common in the hospitality industry. Just try checking into a hotel during a major sporting event and, instead of staying the mandatory three nights, you check out after one. You'll still be charged for the two nights you didn't use.
Abused Customer on 08/02/2007:
Oh I see KenPopcorn is an expert on international affairs now!

awerby - I can sympathise with you. I have experienced similar situations as you on my last trip to Hawaii. They don't cotton to outsiders there.
airemp on 08/02/2007:
As an airline employee in customer service I have to hear about this type of stuff all the time. Every company has to train their employees. However, the little writing at the bottom of your ticket should have the restrictions including "there are fees for changing nonrefundable tickets" and technically not taking your entire flight is a change. Manipulating fares to include flights like this where you intentionally do not take a portion of it is specifically stated to be restricted in most airline policies available to you.

Trumania is correct that phone calls are only recorded randomly and for quality purposes only.

Abused Customer wrote "Oh I see Kenpopcorn is an expert on international affairs now!" - last I checked Hawaii was 1 of the 50 states... and Ken is right that bags would be checked all the way through and airlines do not stop baggage routing for purposes like this.
awerby on 08/02/2007:
Wow, I wasn't expecting all this feedback! While I'm not sure this affects my feelings about Aloha very much, I really appreciate everybody trying to be helpful here.

Let's see if I can respond to some of the points people have brought up.

With the cost of computer storage space so cheap, I don't see why companies can't record all their calls; certainly it would help them, in case of problems, to be able to review what they'd told a specific customer. I suspect the random approach is taken by some companies, but I don't know why we should assume that it's universal.

As to the overall profitability of the airline industry, I've heard that some companies are having some problems. But as a consumer, I don't see it as my personal responsibility to shore up their bottom line by choosing more expensive flights over cheaper ones, or to ignore their shoddy treatment of me personally. If a company chooses to sell their product for a loss or minimal profit, should buyers really be blamed for purchasing from them, as opposed to their higher-priced competitors? As I noted in my original review, it seems that this airline is making up for this by extorting extra fees whenever possible.

Yes, I did need to check bags. That's why this came up; I wanted to make sure they ended up in the right place. Otherwise, I might never have realized that there was any kind of problem. I don't see how it's any harder for them to unload my baggage one place or another, since plenty of other passengers were also getting off at Kona. It's just a matter of writing a different code on the tag.

I'm not sure the hospitality industry analogy is entirely apropos. If I make a reservation for three nights, the hotel will generally charge my card for three nights on the spot; they are then precluded from renting my room to someone else for that time. (I don't think the hospitality industry engages in "overbooking" either.) In no case would I be charged for more than the three nights, even if I checked out early for some reason. And if I asked for and was granted an exception to the mandatory minimum stay requirement, I wouldn't expect to see the extra nights appear on my statement.

Thanks for the sympathy, abused, but in general I've found the Hawaiian people pretty friendly, with the notable exception of Terri Ann at Aloha's "customer support".

And since I got my ticket online, I wasn't able to peruse all the fine print that adorns the traditional paper tickets that are rapidly fading into history. In any case, I would think (I did think) that the verbal assurance I got from the company's representative would supersede any of that - that's why I asked in the first place. If the company's employees are not properly trained, I hardly see how that is my fault. Maybe I'm old-fashioned in this respect, but I expect a company to stand behind what its representatives tell me, even if it loses a little money by doing so, and not hide behind some "little writing" that they never shared with me. And the idea that by not taking the plane to its ultimate destination (where I don't want to go) I'm "manipulating" the fares in some nefarious way seems pretty peculiar - it really seems that the airline was trying to manipulate me instead.
airemp on 08/02/2007:
this is where it gets a little difficult... the airline I work for WILL honor a misadvisement in an escalated circumstance if it has been documented that you were advised of this by an agent. The little writing is a contract that you agree to when you purchase the ticket but a documented misadvisement can sometimes override that with the right supervisor. We don't have to because the contract is what you agreed to. So best advice to you is to ask/request that they document everything they tell you and get their name and agent sine. You cannot prove that they do it but it helps your case when asking us to bend the rules. Maintaining a calm but determined demeanor will help as well. We don't tend to help the screamers/yellers but and are more willing to help out someone with whom we can relate who treats us with respect :)

on a financial note airlines do not make much money on each individual passenger. for most major airlines, ie continental, united, delta, revenue is in the billions yet actual profits this year so far ranged from 2 to 300 million after all costs involved. this "should" matter to you as it affects all future pricing and the availability for you to go where you want to go.
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Don't use Aloha Airlines
Posted by on
HONOLULU, HAWAII -- My worst travel experience occurred over the last 2 years. My husband and I were on a flight from Oakland, CA to Lihue, HI with ALOHA AIRLINES on Mothers Day 2005. Due to operational difficulties, what should have been a 5 hour flight turned into 16 hours. Aloha Airlines did not communicate the problems to the passengers, nor did they make any apologies for the inconvenience they caused. The following day my husband called Aloha Air and gave them a piece of his mind, which produced many apologies, an upgrade to 1st class on the return flight home and two 50% flight vouchers that we could use on our next trip to Hawaii. It all sounds like a happy ending-doesn't it? Well a year later, we booked a flight with the same itinerary, I mentioned the two 50% off vouchers that we had and was quoted a price which reflected the discount (2 for 1 price) and was given exact instructions to relinquish the vouchers to the ticket agent on the first leg of the trip. I did everything I was supposed to do. When we returned home and received our VISA statement, there were 2 charges for the tickets and no credit for the vouchers. I contacted the Customer Care Dept. of ALOHA AIR and CHASE VISA and after several conversations, letters, temporary credits and re-bills to my VISA account, I ended up paying full price for both tickets. ALOHA AIRLINES did not honor the vouchers they gave us for our inconvenience. I am a Travel Agent in a large travel agency and have passed the word about my experience to the other travel agents not to use ALOHA AIR under any circumstances. I also sent a certified letter to the President/CEO of ALOHA AIRLINES-David Banmiller and never received a response from his office either. So much for their bogus philosophy about "Customer Satisfaction First". Look for ALOHA AIR on the growing list of failing airlines later this year.
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LennyGuy on 05/17/2007:
Another reason to not use a travel agent. One bad experience and you tell your customers (and coworkers) what a horrible airline it is. Now customers won't fly it even though it may be cheaper or more convenient because of your experience. I'll stick with making my own online reservations.
Anonymous on 05/17/2007:
I am with you LennyGuy!
Anonymous on 05/17/2007:
We use Aloha when going to the Islands. They are far better than the Hawaiian Air cattle cars! Aloha does a decent job and we will stick with them.
Hairess on 05/18/2007:
Hey LennyGuy: I booked this myself as an individual, not as a Travel Agent. I just want Aloha Air to honor their vouchers and give me my $495 back. I could have found a lower internet fare had I known I would end up paying full price, but I chose to use Aloha and use the vouchers. I should have known better after the first bad experience when it took 16 hours instead of 5 to get there. Oh well! Live and learn! Happy Traveling.
FoggyOne on 05/18/2007:
It is immeaterial how you booked it but I agree the ball was dropped by them. My complaint is that you said "I am a Travel Agent...not to use ALOHA AIR under any circumstances". Customers come to you for advice and you tell them this when it may be the best airline for their situation. You might tell them about your bad experience and they'll tell you about theirs with United or Delta or Air France... But to provide such strong statements like "never use" I think is too severe and a disservice to the customers. Look at any site (including this one) and you'll see lots of legitimate complaints (like yours) against airlines - if I were to follow the advice to 'never use' each of these airelines I'd never be able to fly anywhere. Many people complain about USAir but I've had nothing but good luck (seems luck rather than anything with the airlines anymore) with them.
familytravel on 05/19/2007:
The vouchers do sound very frustrating! I always book my own airline reservations, and even if it costs more, I always do it directly with the airline. I can't tell you how many times places like Expedia or Orbitz has messed everything up. I'm not saying things will be a lot easier directly on the airlines website--but it might save a few headaches.
Hairess on 05/22/2007:
Thanks for the input! I will keep all of your comments in mind as I advise my customers and shop for travel in the future. It seems that it has become a real challenge for all of us to travel.
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