Hawaiian Air Overshoots Runway At Maui Causing Closure

Free Hawaiian Air Tickets | Mistake Fares Mostly Not Honored

We were alerted by a Beat of Hawaii visitor to the possibility of free Hawaiian Airlines tickets earlier this week. They were buying flights from LA to Maui, and much to their surprise, the price was $11.20 RT per person. They went ahead and booked the tickets, but were left wondering what would happen next. News of the glitch spread quickly on the internet and in social media.

“Last night I booked RT from LAX to OGG using Hawaiian Airlines…. When I signed into my Hawaiian account… expecting RT for 80,000 miles but it said ZERO miles and $11.20 RT. I was able to book my flight for two people for a total of $22.40…. I have read about mistakes happening before. Do you know how I should proceed?”

Thirteen hundred free tickets were issued.

What happened is that Hawaiian Airlines booked over 1,300 free tickets (tax only) to Hawaii. That was until the company realized a computer glitch had caused the problem and it was rectified. Hawaiian Airlines said that following US DOT guidelines, “Hawaiian has reached out to impacted guests to inform them these tickets will not be honored and that they will be reimbursed for any taxes and fees associated with the ticket.” We learned subsequently, however, that free tickets for flights through May 24, were in fact honored.

A further glitch apparently caused some people to be charged over $100,000 for their tickets. While we didn’t hear about that directly, that issue was also resolved. Those charged that much must have had a very high credit limit.

Compensation from Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian has offered each affected passenger 10,000 Hawaiian Miles as compensation for the error. Ten thousand miles has a value of $100. What’s your take on how Hawaiian Airlines handled this?

History of airline mistake fares.

Computer mistakes happen occasionally, even to the airlines. We don’t make it a policy to share those because the airlines do not need to honor them, as was largely the case here. It can just turn into a big waste of time. Bottom line, a deal like $49 tickets to Hawaii is great, and if we publish it, it’s real. Beyond that, buyer beware.

In the past, airlines did sometimes honor erroneous fares, but that is for the most part no longer true. DOT required that airlines honor these, until that policy was changed about five years ago. Now, if you book a mistake fare in the US, the airline theoretically does have to reimburse any out-of-pocket expenses you incur as a result of the mistake fare. But proving that and getting your money back, will be difficult if not impossible.

Should you take a chance with erroneous fares?

When it is free, you honestly know it is too good to be true. Thus it is a virtual certainty it will not be honored. If you decide to give this a try, best to not make any other non-cancellable travel plans until some time has passed.

Have you ever flown using a mistake fare? Let us know.

13 thoughts on “Free Hawaiian Air Tickets | Mistake Fares Mostly Not Honored”

  1. I booked 6 tickets and was charged $11.20 for each ticket and was later told by Hawaiian Airlines that it was a coding error and my reservation would be cancelled. They gave me 10,000 miles for the inconvenience. They should have honored the tickets as it was not the customer’s fault and to learn that they honored some of the tickets over others makes it worse! Either honor them all or none. And they are doing this at at time when Southwest entered the market with flights to Hawaii and offering up some actual competition. Bad business for Hawaiian Airlines.

  2. Sorry about that the name for the $88,000 post above is
    Adam G. From Huntington Beach, CA. – Aloha

  3. Aloha all!
    As a business owner (not an airline, but a customer service based business all the same), there’s a term we learn very early on called “COB” (Cost of Doing Business) – when we make the mistake (customer’s favor), we swallow it and learn from our mistake(s) (typo, etc.). When we make a mistake (gross mistake like $47k vs $470) we credit the customer back, usually quietly and with little fanfare. We would never go back to a customer and say “hey, you owe us more” or “hey, we cancelled your order because WE made an error” – in fact, HA better keep an eye open, in the courts, it “could” be seen as a bait-and-switch…get ’em in, sell the goods, then switch to a different price/item after the sale (contract) is sealed. Not cool. They’re not a mom and pop, they’re a major corporation, and if heads should fly, it should be internally, not the customer’s. Stepping down from my soapbox. (and yes, I fly HA, almost exclusively to/from/within the islands)

  4. I flew on what I can only assume was a mistake fare from Los Angeles to New Zealand about 3 years ago. The fare was around $250-$300 RT. I booked it in the middle of the night and by morning the fare had tripled to about $1,000 which is more typical of this route. I booked 6 months in advance and my tickets were honored by American. It’s rare but it can happen!

  5. Please let me know if you find any airline deals.
    My home airport is RSW which is Fort Myers, FL. Since no airlines flies from here to Hawaii at this time, I know I will need to fly to another airport and change to an airline that does have a direct flight to Hawaii.

    I am interested in going to Hawaii in September, 2019.

    Thank You so much for any help and information you send. This would be a special trip for our 50th wedding anniversary.

    1. Hi Linda.

      Looks like you can expect low $800’s with fast connection in MIA or DFW for September travel.


  6. Well, I am the one you are talking about above. Here is the latest update. On the 20th when I purchased the tickets, I purchased two tickets together for my wife and myself. I then purchased two additional tickets for our kids both for different dates. In total 4 tickets with 3 different confirmation codes. The two tickets for my kids were $11.20 each total which cleared my credit card which happens to also be Hawaiin Airlines Barclays card. Here comes the crazy part. I was charged over $47,000 for each ticket for myself and my wife. My credit card statement said $88,000. I did lose 2 nights of sleep. I called Barclays and asked them how they allowed 2 separate charges of over $47,000 on my card without contacting me. I also informed them that even $47,000 was way over my credit limit. Their answer was “You are a good customer”. Today I received a call from Hawaiin Airlines who stated the were giving me 10,000 miles (lol), reversing the $88,000 charges-(Thank God), and also allowing my wife and myself to fly for FREE. They stated I booked 3 different tickets and the were only honoring the 1st purchase. The tickets for my kids were being cancelled and they are refunding my $11.20 (LMAO). Keep up the great work Beat of Hawaii, I look forward to reading your emails every time they arrive in my inbox.

    1. Hi A.

      (Do you have a name?) Thanks for the update. $88,000! OMG. Sounds like they are handling it a little differently with everyone. Congrats on getting the one ticket for free – that is hard to beat.


  7. I would be pleased if you could please tell me when I could expect Southest to fly direct from Phoenix, AZ to Honolulu.
    Thsnk you so much.
    J. Ayers

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