316 Hawaii Flight Delays, Up To 6 Hours | Airlines + FAA Brawl

Yesterday (October 26) saw the most significant number of single-day Hawaii flight delays we can ever recall; 316 in total! We heard about it first from two friends who were seriously stuck, and then we saw it on Flightaware. It started like this:

Audri wrote to tell us about her 6-hour delay on the Hawaiian Airlines flight 20 from Honolulu to Sacramento yesterday. She reported boarding before noon, but “over 6 hours on the tarmac, and we still haven’t taken off.” She added they also went to the runway and turned back “to the gate to refuel.” That was followed by deplaning and reboarding and a “Sheriff to finish dealing with angry passengers… Meanwhile, we’ve been served water twice and a tiny package of pretzel snacks.”

Meanwhile, BOH’s friend Susan was returning from a medical visit in Honolulu and found herself stuck there and unable to get home for hours. Gone are the days for now when you could count on flights between the islands running on time, as we found out ourselves just last week during another spate of  Hawaii flight delays.

Honolulu Hawaii flight delays Wednesday.

  • 1 American Airlines
  • 4 Alaska Airlines
  • 3 Delta Airlines
  • 9 Mokulele Airlines
  • 112 Hawaiian Airlines
  • 24 Southwest Airlines
  • 6 United Airlines

Maui Hawaii flight delays Wednesday.

  • 1 American Airlines
  • 4 Alaska Airlines
  • 9 Mokulele Airlines
  • 47 Hawaiian Airlines
  • 13 Southwest Airlines

Kauai Hawaii flight delays Wednesday.

  • 2 Alaska Airlines
  • 1 Delta Airlines
  • 23 Hawaiian Airlines
  • 4 Southwest Airlines

Kona Hawaii flight delays Wednesday.

  • 2 Alaska Airlines
  • 1 Mokulele Airlines
  • 27 Hawaiian Airlines
  • 6 Southwest Airlines

Hilo Hawaii flight delays Wednesday.

  • 2 Mokulele Airlines
  • 14 Hawaiian Airlines
  • 1 Southwest Airlines

Airlines and FAA Brawl over flight delays.

Yesterday was grim as airlines suffered over 14,000 flight delays per FlightAware with more than 20% of all U.S. flights delayed. That’s nuts. Believe it or not, that’s an improvement from the summer when 20k+ flights were delayed daily.

Is it a pilot shortage, airline mismanagement, the FAA, or a runway repair to blame?

Early in this mess, the pilot shortage was often listed as the cause. But the airlines have repeatedly said that the FAA has a role in the trouble. Delta and Southwest have been among those who had pointed fingers in the government’s direction, including when Delta said ATC was the leading cause. United Airlines CEO said that ATC was the airline’s top concern. JetBlue said that air traffic control (ATC) staffing is a huge issue, and they face a “challenging environment” because of ATC delays.”

But the FAA keeps pushing back, saying it is an airline problem instead, and they suggest that the airlines aren’t being transparent and that most of the delays have nothing to do with FAA. How can both of these be true? FAA may indeed be having trouble hiring and retaining controllers, even with a starting pay of $130k/year.

There is also a runway closure at HNL for the airlines to deal with. But adjustments to schedules should already have occurred to mitigate any runway-related delays. That appears not to have happened.

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35 thoughts on “316 Hawaii Flight Delays, Up To 6 Hours | Airlines + FAA Brawl”

  1. A friend and I flew into jfk on April 1 from Hawaii early sat morning we arrived supposed to leave at 130 go Orlando with jet blue,Sunday at 530 pm we had flights no shower no food gave us a dinner voucher after 12 midnight so we didn’t eat. Our flight was delayed 5 xs 5 gates no one could answer a question on anything.what a nightmare after having a great time in Hawaii .worse experience ever jfk sucks never again

  2. Enjoyed your article today. My wife and I were returning yesterday from Kona through Maui to home on Kauai. The first leg was delayed some three hours. Same plane then went onto Kauai. That plane originated in Honolulu. Flight crew attributed their late departure from Honolulu to issues with the baggage handlers. I’d estimate 30+ people in Kona — who would have missed their connecting flights to the mainland leaving from Maui, ended up not boarding the Hawaiian flight hoping to reschedule.

  3. Regarding the HNL-SAC flight that was mentioned. They were kept on the tarmac for six hours? That is totally illegal and HA will probably receive stiff penalties for the incident. The passengers may also file charges.

    1. Last week, we flew HA from Maui to Lihue and waited in a Bag Drop line for over two hours (after tagging our own bags at the kiosk and before lining up for TSA)! The other airlines did not have this issue. I previously had reservations on SWA, but was inspired to try Hawaiian because of all the positive comments and loyalty observed on this site. While our experience wasn’t awful, it certainly wasn’t impressive. For us, the choice in future will come down to schedule and price.

      1. Four out of five of our HA flights were significantly delayed. We would have most certainly missed our connection in Honolulu, but the second leg was delayed, as well. It worked out fine for us, but, in general, HA seemed to struggle in just about every area. On our return flight (Lihue to Austin), they ran out of beverages and didn’t have any earbuds for the in-flight entertainment?! Not tragic, but just not good. Too many concessions to recommend HA, especially with added baggage fees.

  4. Wow. That sounds a bit extreme and unreliable. Hard to plan a vacation if you don’t know when you’ll get back for sure. How sad. I wonder if people will quit coming because of the unpredictability of the trip. I’m sorry for the airline industry, and possibly the fare wars and lack of staff have possibly contributed to this. 😢

  5. We had a flight from HNL to JFK yesterday and were delayed. However, our delay wasn’t any ot the reasons that others have mentioned. It wasn’t personnel. weather, mechanical failure, disruptive passenger etc. It was to allow a couple of passengers whose connecting flight was late into HNL to board with us. I don’t know if the delaying flight was a Hawaii airlines plane or not. They held the plane up about 1/2 hour. While some might be disturbed by this delay the couple that was able to catch their long flight to JFK were certainly thankful. Hawaiian airlines showed great Aloha in doing that.

  6. Closing 8L has to be a huge factor…contributing would be the so called SWA effect.
    When you throw a bunch of flights into one market to try and establish yourself it obviously creates more clutter. Also their “predatory aggressiveness” could be a contributing factor. There are only so many slots available for crossing the pacific and they are shared by flights from all the airlines. SWA does have a reputation for abusing the ATC system if they can find a way to benefit themselves, even if it causes problems for others.

  7. Thank you for these updates. I’ve been reading your articles for the last couple of months as I prepare for our November trip. I have to say it’s rather daunting to hear about all of the airline delays but I’m just glad to know ahead of time what we may be in for so thank you! I’m flying to Maui direct but my travel partners have a lay over in Honolulu so I’m wishing the best for all!

  8. We traveled Maui to SFO 2 days ago. 20 minute delay, but the interesting thing was there were no people in the security line. Zero. Not exaggerating. I know Tuesday’s are a slow day at the airport but 0 travelers in security? That’s never happened to me before on any flight ever.

    Definitely something going on with tourist count reduction to and from the islands!

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