Hawaiian Airlines Cancels Many Flights As A321 Problems Deepen

Hawaiian Airlines CEO’s Apology For Flight Delays, Reservations Meltdown & Engine Woes

Today, in a letter to customers, Hawaiian Airlines’ CEO Peter Ingram addressed many of the issues that we’ve previously noted and also received countless comments about. These include their lack of on-time performance since last year, the problems with their 5-year-old A321neo fleet, and the recent botched upgrade to their reservation system. He also alluded to just how much Hawaiian’s problems have impacted everyone involved.

Contrition is a great step forward in dealing with Hawaiian Airlines’ problems.

Peter said that the past six months have been among the most difficult challenges he’s faced in his 18-year history at the company. Our sense is that the problems have hit the bottom line, and it became necessary for the highly likable head of the company to step forward and speak to all concerned.

Honolulu Airport runway now has no daytime closures.

Ingram said, “With the most impactful phase of the runway project now complete, we have seen real improvement in the reliability of our operation.” That project, under the failed leadership of the Hawaii Department of Transportation/Airports, led to spiraling flight delays. These hurt Hawaiian far more than most other airlines, since Honolulu is its operational base. The airport returned to full daytime operations in late May, after over 8 months of closure of what is its busiest runway.

Honolulu runway 8L wreaked havoc on Hawaii travelers, airline and airport employees, and all of those who transit Hawaii’s airports, even those beyond Honolulu. Everyone was so happy when Hawaii DOT said, “Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) announces the reopening of Runway 8L at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) as of 6 a.m. Saturday, May 27, 2023.”

The runway reconstruction was the second biggest project after the building of the Reef Runway. It included a 1,000 lineal-foot stretch of Portland cement concrete at the threshold of the runway, plus 7,500 lineal feet of polymer-modified asphalt, in addition to new lights and navigational aids.

Hawaiian recovering from IT meltdown.

Peter said today that the company is “seeing steady improvement in the performance of our IT systems.” That comes following the abysmal upgrade of their reservation system to Amadeus in April.

The unexpected meltdown that ensued was something we’d never seen before at Hawaiian. The upgrade resulted in massive delays and the breakdown of online bookings. In addition, their call center was overwhelmed and largely inaccessible.

Some problems remain, and you’ve noted them in your comments. Fare holds disappeared, as did credit card promotions. And that was just for starters.

After all the trials and tribulations, the move to Amadeus will prove to be an excellent one for Hawaiian, and we are beginning to see the fruits of their efforts. Still, there’s more work to do, and that is acknowledged in Peter’s email. We won’t belabor the point.

Hawaiian A321neo engine problems – they aren’t gone. Are they improving?

“We continue to face industry-wide challenges with the availability of spare engines,” said Ingram. Without providing specifics, he said that they are “able to operate more of our fleet on a consistent basis.” It isn’t clear how many of the 5-year-old A321 aircraft are out of service. And to be honest, that may well change on a day-by-day basis as both problems occur and fixes become available. We know that previously, up to 28% of Hawaiian Air’s A321neo fleet was grounded at times, which is very significant. Delta’s CEO said, “These engine problems will remain with us in 2024.” Delta is another large operator of the same A321neo fleet.

It is the Pratt & Whitney (PW) geared turbofan jet engines on the planes that are experiencing unforeseen problems in these new planes. Since these engines are used by a myriad of airlines globally, the problems are very widespread and aren’t specific to Hawaiian. Some have stated that the CFD virtual modeling tools used in the design of these engines may predict problems less reliably than more traditional flight-based testing.

Finally, and perhaps most telling, Peter Ingram addressed the impact that their problems had on many people. He finished up by saying that Hawaiian is “excited to show you how much better we can be for our guests, our employees, and our community.”

We welcome your comments and recent experiences with Hawaiian Airlines.

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21 thoughts on “Hawaiian Airlines CEO’s Apology For Flight Delays, Reservations Meltdown & Engine Woes”

  1. Mahalo for your Column, Guys. It is so informative. I just read that Peter Ingram sent all his Customers a letter regarding ongoing problems with Hawaiian. HMM. I never got that letter and I’m a Pualani Platinum Member.

    Yes, Hawaiian does have some problems to deal with. Communication seems to be just one of them.

    Mahalo for your efforts on behalf of your readers.

    1. Hi Danny.

      Thanks. We don’t know of any such communication. That is unless you’re referring to an email that was sent out a number of months ago following the reservation system upgrade.


  2. Loyal HA customer here for decades. Cancelled my Air miles and card previously. Tried really hard to stick with them. But with these recent issues, ( every flight has been a pain recently ) and especially today’s issue I can not take anymore.

    I booked an outer island trip this weekend through expedia for a relative’s funeral and expedia glitched and chose travel dates 3 weeks from now. Upon calling expedia, everything was cancelled and resorted. Cancelled 2 flights, car and hotel. Refunding everything for that date mix up. Then I am notified that Hawaiian air has a no refund policy, and because the flights are cancelled, I cannot use those flight 3 weeks from now or even transfer it to another flight. They only way to get a refund of the trip is to show a death certificate- Who’s mine?? They took my money immediately, with no refunds for a mistake that took 30 minutes to resolve. Highway Robbery!!

    I rebooked my trip with southwest air and it went smoothly. I will never fly Hawaiian air again. Sorry, I tried to stay local, but this is ridiculous!! Not sorry!

  3. We are going to Kauai for two weeks in October.
    We made reservations over two months ago
    A few days I double checked our flights and found out
    that not only had our flight times from PDX to HNL and
    HNL to PDX changed but our planes had changed from
    single aisle A321s to double aisled A330s.
    Of course our extra comfort seat assignments are trashed.
    Under HAL’s old system we received emails with every little change.
    Under this new system we received nothing!
    I really hope they start improving soon!

  4. HAL is like any other American Company. Leadership and Management are from the Mainland or Upper Class people from Hawaii. They count on passengers not exercising their FAA and DOT and being compensated for delays resulting from poor maintenance or network planning.

  5. The apology does not make up for the money and time lost due to their delay of my flight home from Sydney back on June 20 (HA452). According to the letter given to myself and the other passengers the delay was due to an issue getting a part for the plane. The delay took 24 hours with an original departure time of 9:40pm on 6/20 to a departure time of 9:40 6/21. And even then they tried to make it less than 24 hours by saying the flight would depart at 8pm but due to issues with their terminals causing a delay in allowing people to be checked in we departed much later than 9:40 pm. When I got the initial notification of the delay and the new flight time the next day I called Customer Care, “Care” is not what they offered. They just said keep my receipts for my hotel and other expenses and submit it to their CAO website. Well nearly 3 weeks later, no word on status of any reimbursement, also at the airport they let us know that we would get a $500 travel voucher issued shortly after we arrive in Honolulu which I haven’t received yet. Each submission to their CAO site just tells me to wait via an automated reply. Like I can’t even tell if a real person has even seen my requests for reimbursement or my missing travel voucher (which my wife did receive after we landed). Again apologies don’t make up for what was lost. Actions will and I would want to see actions not words.

  6. My wife and I received the email yesterday and yet we awoke this morning at 5am to the news of her Honolulu to Portland flight 26 being delayed today from its 2:50pm departure to 9pm. We drove immediately to the airport in Hilo in the hopes of getting her on a flight to Maui where she could hopefully catch flight 40 from Maui to Portland. Thankfully, the Hawaiian Airlines staff in Hilo were extremely helpful and successfully placed her on that flight from Maui to Portland. This, despite the fact that Hawaiian was no doubt going to be faced with a large number of passengers wanting to do the same, from Honolulu, Lihue and the Big Island. Not to mention the unenviable task of trying to combine two flights into one, especially when the one being delayed is an A330 and the one trying to accommodate those delayed passengers are hoping for a spot on an A321 Neo, a significantly smaller aircraft.
    As of 6:15pm today, Tuesday, flight 26 is still facing a delayed departure from Honolulu, now estimated at 10:12pm.
    Emailed letter of apology? Yes, as Peter Ingram himself wrote, “there still is plenty of work to do to reclaim our title as the country’s most on-time airline.”

  7. Flight delays = Runway 8 Left construction delays, inter-island flights delayed the most affecting HA a lot. Increased inter-island flying also (SWA flights now add to traffic issues). IT Issues = Why? Changeover to a new system, at least for a good reason. Engine Issues = All NEO engines of all airlines affected by Pratt & Whitney (321NEO). The 1 thing HA had control over- IT upgrade, they could have stayed with old systems until they failed and caused worse delays (Hi SWA) but they upgraded and bit the bullet. I work in management for an airplane company, not an airline, but work with airline folks regularly. Tickets DAL (SWA HQ) to AUS 7/24= Wanna get away from $169-206 , SWA HNL-KOA 7/24-$44 – similar distance, why? Gas cheaper in HI, nope, 737 cheaper to fly, nope, they want to put HA, the largest private employer in the state, out of biz and charge more and contribute less, period, they have said so openly. Be careful.

    1. This is why Jay, people should boycott SWA….SWA runs a satellite inter island operation that is dispatched from the mainland by dispatchers that don’t understand Hawaii weather like HA’s do, the crews are from the mainland with far less experience in Hawaii then local crews, the planes are supported by a skeleton maintenance operation and in fact not designed for inter island hops. Those 737 engines are designed for longer flights and require greater cooling times then inter island ops allow for. Like everything they do, SWA is pushing the envelope to save money. Their transpac business plan was to flood the market to support their growth with little regard for it’s impact. They just threw a bunch of flights at Hawaii and cancelled at will as they experimented. Worst of all, they take the money they earn here out of our economy and it goes to Texas. Other than that, they’re fine!

  8. The meltdown was due to implementing a new system (vice SWA’s much bigger issue caused by not implementing new systems) which is always a challenge on the IT side, painful, was needed and they did it. What I find interesting is that these articles routinely focus on SWA in the positive and HA in the negative, like the extra 1″ of SWA legroom in economy (the only SWA class) and ignore the SWA 2″ less seat-width compared to Hawaiian. And no mention of the Travel and Leisure Magazine Readers selecting Hawaiian as the best US airline overall 2nd year in a row. How about an article on that? Would love to see that, or does it not matter? This is very much looking like paid SWA advocacy and anti-Hawaiian, despite being the largest private employer employer in the state of Hawaii.

  9. Hello

    My husband and I will be boarding Hawaiian Airlines for the first time on 9/15/23 from OAK to HNL and looking forward to enjoyable flight. Please with no delays, turbulence, unruly passenger drama. We just need a stress free vacation. We’ve waited 5 years to celebrate our honeymoon and wanted to celebrate with Hawaiian Airlines and beautiful Hawaii.

    Thank you,
    Coby W

  10. Hawaiian is nothing if not resilient. Oldest surviving airline in the U.S and the only airline to survive deregulation on it’s own. Still the best way to get to Hawaii. They have been quite straightforward about their recent drop from far better then the rest to almost as bad as everyone else. Made several trips on them this year to the mainland and all were on time and the superior island style service they are known for…that’s my experience anyway.

  11. Unlike many, my flights have been great. Flights have been punctual and service on board has been top notch.
    However, getting answers to questions either via Pualani Elite call center or through email, is sophomoric at best. There is no mechanism to get a coherent answer to a question. The question asked and the answer given never align.
    While this letter from the CEO sounds like contrition, communication at HA is dismal at best.
    Thanks again for the article gentleman.

    1. Hi Kelly.

      Thanks for your feedback about this. If you want to share more about the kinds of communication that aren’t answered, that would be interesting. The only thing we can add is that talking with their call center has worked well in our recent experiences, even though we’d prefer a U.S. call center.


      1. Original email sent:
        On march 13 I booked a multi city trip from KOA to JFK, return from BOS to KOA. Not long after that I contacted the Pualani Elite call center to inquire about upgrading the BOS to HNL flight using miles which I did. During that call I asked agent if I would have the option on the day of the flight to pay for the flight instead of using miles. They said yes you could do that at the airport while checking in. The people at the counter said “we don’t do that here, you have to call Hawaiian”. So I called the service center and the representative had no idea what I was talking about. She had no clue about day of departure upgrades. On your website it said day of departure first class upgrade was $869. Which is the same thing that the agent told me in March.
        I could not be upset with agent as she had not clue what your contract of carriage says. I can be upset with the people who are not training these representatives better.
        I have been having these issues with the call center since the end of the pandemic. I never get the same answer from the same question. I am starting to believe that the representatives are just not understanding English. What else could it be.
        I would like to know how I am supposed to do this if I choose to pay for an upgrade day of flight instead of using miles. It’s time for HA to step up and have everyone saying the same thing. I am on track for obtaining Pualani Platinum for 2024 and expect all phases of HA to be easy for me. This is my second time trying to get this question answered.

        This is the response that I already got from HA, “We are sorry to hear that your customer service experience with us did not meet your expectations. Please be advised that the complimentary First Class seat upgrade is only available upon check-in (24 hours prior to departure) for Neighbor Island flights only and is subject to availability.” How is this an appropriate response to what my concern is? This is not acceptable.

        On a positive note, the flight from BOS to HNL was awesome. Flight attendants are always doing great work.

        Their reply,

        Aloha Kelly,

        Thank you for contacting us.

        I’m sorry for any miscommunication or misunderstanding regarding upgrading on the day of departure. Based on availability, guests may upgrade to our First Class Cabin; however, this can only be done at the airport. Please be assured that your experience has been shared with our Boston Airport Manager for his internal review and coaching.

        Thank you for choosing Hawaiian Airlines.

        So airport staff do not have time to do this before departure and are not trained to do this anyway. Call center says that they can. Talk about getting the runaround.
        I would have liked to have had the option at check to either use miles or pay like call center said I could do.

  12. I’ve flown over 80,000 miles in the last year, about 99% with Hawaiian. However over the last couple of months I’ve flown other airlines more frequently. While I much prefer Hawaiian for numerous reasons these are the three top reasons.
    1. Hawaiians price fluctuations are completely crazy. I was gonna buy a flight home for 205, discussed the day with my wife and went to purchase about 10 minutes later. It was now 495, I called in and they didn’t seem to care and I’m a pulani flyer. I checked it again about 45 minutes later, still plenty of seats and now 615. I bought through a competitor for 220 and an hour later my wife told me the Hawaiian flight was back to 205. Reps stated it was based on people purchasing but the seats weren’t changing much and other airlines have more consistent pricing.
    2. Being on time is really fallen off. My last 6 flights with Hawaiian have all been over 30 minutes delayed arrival. Boarding and push off have been consistently 20 to 30 minutes delayed. Other airlines have been on time or within a few minutes.
    3. Wifi is still only available for Hawaiian app streaming service. Other airlines I can purchase full WiFi for less than 10 dollars and get a lot of work done. For free I can text through WhatsApp.
    I hope Hawaiian gets there stuff together. I really love flying them.

    1. It’s called dynamic pricing which unfortunately has been adopted
      throughout the travel and hospitality industry

      1. I get the dynamic pricing but Hawaiians is just a straight up rollercoaster. I watch a lot of flights (unfortunately I have to make a lot of short notice flying) and HA is the only one I’ve seen that has been so extreme and really has only been the last 3-6 months with them. Getting ready to board United now, this flight I saw fluctuate 200-230 dollars in about a 5 day period. The flight I wanted with HA ranged from 205-800 in the same period and did 205-495-615-205 in under 2 hours. The available seats changed very little if at all. Unfortunately I choose the much more stable pricing of United, HA was 615 at the time.

  13. And has Hawaiian done anything to make their customers whole again where they had to spend extra $$$ because of the meltdown?

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