Read our latest Island Air update.
Island Air is owned by Larry Ellison who also owns the Island of Lanai. The company has announced plans to re-fleet the airline due to aircraft reliability issues. Here’s a personal example of the problem at hand, which has been widely reported by others.
Airplane delays cannot always be helped and safety is top priority, but how an airline handles them speaks to the character of the company and their ability to succeed. Island Air fell short when our flight from Lihue to Honolulu was delayed for almost 2 hours on Saturday.
Because Hawaii is completely dependent on inter-island flights, these are equivalent to inter-city buses. We schedule meetings, appointments, and other transportation based on reliable service. Hawaiian Airlines has typically had the best on-time performance in the industry, and we hope that Island Air can come to that level as well.
Long Queue 50 Passengers Deep
We arrived at Lihue airport expecting to fly to Honolulu. Instead we encountered a long queue which did not move. The issue was that Island Air had to rebook passengers who had connecting flights to the mainland and elsewhere. Even those of us only flying to Honolulu were made to wait in the same long line.
How Island Air Fell Short and Our Suggestions
1. No announcements were made about the delay or long wait.
Airport monitor showed the flight on time. Since no one was talking to us, we called Island Air which is now answered in the Philippines. They had no information about a change to the flight schedule. This added confusion with no announcement coming at any time from the check-in podium that the flight was indeed delayed. There was no employee who spoke with passengers waiting in line.
2. Passengers with no connecting flight were made to wait.
To reduce the wait, there should have been a separate line to process non-connecting passengers.
3. No Island Air employees at the airport.
Entire ground crew of Island Air (at most airports) is contracted by an outside company. On Kauai, there is no employee of Island Air to assist.
4. Call center not helpful.
While a call center in the Philippines is not unusual and for example works for Hawaiian Air, it did not work for Island Air. We were frustrated that we could not speak to a company representative in any way.
Island Air did respond to a Facebook inquiry following the incident.
4. On board service lacked.
The normally cheery flight attendants seemed rather flustered and lacked their normal zest. There was no mention of apology until half way through the flight, at which point the pilot thanked us for flying Island Air, and announced that we would be landing in Kahului in 6 minutes. Unfortunately for him, however, we were headed to Honolulu and were still 15 minutes from landing.
PS: We’ll be flying Island Air again later this week and will let you know how it goes.