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.
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.
ALOHA AIRLINES TO SHUT DOWN PASSENGER OPERATIONS AFTER MARCH 31, 2008, ENDING A 61-YEAR TRADITION OF SERVICE TO HAWAII
HONOLULU: Aloha Airlines announced today that it will be shutting down its inter-island and transpacific passenger flight operations. Alohas 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 Alohas passengers who have been inconvenienced.
For more information on Uniteds accommodation options, contact United at 1-800-UNITED1 or www.united.com. 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 Alohas 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 Alohas air cargo business.
This is an incredibly dark day for Hawaii, said David A. Banmiller, Alohas 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.
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.