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. Actually Hawaiian has had the best on time record of any US carrier for the last 20 years or so. What’s going on is likely a bit of an anomaly.
      You are seeing so many HA flights mentioned here because they have the most flights to Hawaii, all airlines are struggling and Hawaii closing the major runway in HNL has made the problem worse.

      1. I no longer believe HA’s best on-time record since we have received emails advising us of a change in our scheduled departure time that made the delayed flights “on-time”. Thursday’s HA22 from HNL to SEA took off over 2 hours late but was “on-time” per the “schedule change” announced just before departure.

        1. Funny you should say SEA Joy! I am going to SEA and googled flight aware for my flt (HA21)…mostly on time for the last 10 days and a couple flights were late, but they still got in before midnight…given the state of the whole airline industry I’m OK with that

  1. I always fly American between Hawaii and the mainland, and I’ve made well over a dozen round trips over the past couple of years. The most common problem I’ve run into is when we get to HNL and there’s no employee there who can run the jet bridge. It’s now happening on just every flight I’m on. It’s so frustrating to be stuck on the plane at the gate after a long flight and not be able to disembark.

  2. We were also on HA 20 HNL to SMF. For us it started when we sat on the tarmac in KOA for close to hour due to limited runway availability in HNL. Once cleared to takeoff the flight was pleasant getting us in with a few minutes to get to gate 8. The problems with flight 20 began with a maintenance issue in a lavatory. There was a problem with the luggage delivery system to the tarmac, so long wait for the luggage to be loaded. Out to the runway for a very long time waiting for a long string of landing planes. Apparently the brakes headed up while in the holding position. When the brakes cooled, there was not enough fuel left to fly safely. Back to the gate for fuel. Limited runways and the baggage issue seemed to start the chain of events.

  3. Starting pay is way below $130k for most ATC and airlines schedule flights as if there is not weather on the islands or mainland and weather (fog, turbulence, thunderstorms etc) effects ATC’s ability to handle the same volume of aircraft for safety purposes.

  4. I was on delayed Hawaiian 44 yesterday it departed about 2 hours late The inbound from PDX arrived late they were slow to turn the aircraft and once on board we were told the bag scanner was down so they had to use the TSA dogs to check the bags for explosives

  5. Thanks for the article I got out to HML next week I’ll have to keep watch on the patterns. Hopefully my flight back to Boston won’t be as delayed as the 6 hour one mentioned!

  6. I had a flight from Honolulu to Phoenix yesterday. We were delayed an hour due to a “door” issue. Relatively minor compared to what others have been faced with. From my seat in the back of the plane, it seemed everyone handled the delay well.

  7. Hi Rob+Jeff. Well it looks like the latest updates with flight delays, $50 visit fee, beach + park fees, the high state taxes,hotel,resort,rental car, groceries, adventure tours, will definitely keep people from visiting the Islands. It’s really sad and disappointing to say the least. Just came back from Kauai +Big Island. Was nice, at least not overcrowded at this time of year. But yes, expensive.$2,000.00 for 4 days at the condo.Was $1,925.00 for a wk a year ago. Basic groceries were 300.00.3 bags. Bread, milk, eggs, etc.Looks to be awhile before I go back. Hope you both keep on giving us better news than what has been happening. Mahalo and Aloha!!!!!

  8. The FAA isn’t having trouble hiring and retaining in the tradition sense of employment – the FAA refuses to hire more controllers because in their eyes they have the minimum amount needed and any extra would be financially irresponsible.

    Meanwhile, every facility is running tons of overtime, with the larger facilities requiring hundreds of hours per controller per year, year over year. 6 day workweeks are burning everyone out, and there is no end in sight because the FAA refuses to admit they need more controllers.

    It is purely financial on part of the FAA. For every 10-20 applicants, they hire 1. It is cheaper to pay thousands of controllers exorbitant amounts of overtime than hire more people.

    Thanks for the article!

  9. there were also gate delays after flights touched down
    many aircraft’s no able to lock in to gates to deplaned!!
    these flights have not been accounted for delays for many many days


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