Hawaiian Airlines Lawsuit + Fast-Paced Changes | What You Need to Know

Hawaiian Airlines Lawsuit + Fast-Paced Changes | What You Need to Know

Updated 4/28/20. This information pertains to you whether you are contemplating flying to Hawaii later, or if you had a ticket for a cancelled flight. These are some of the first steps in addressing our valid concerns about flying now and well into the future. The rules of consumers engaging with airlines are fast-changing, and it is going to be for the better. Read on.

Hawaiian Airlines class action lawsuit.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Airlines in Honolulu’s US District Court, following suits filed against American, United and others. This one alleges that Hawaiian has not complied with the US DOT enforcement notice regarding cancelled flights.

Plaintiff Nataly Alvarez was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Maui in March when her flight was cancelled. According to the suit, she “requested a refund from Hawaiian, which never came…. Hawaiian is only offering credits.” The suit also asks for punitive damages as a result of the airline’s “willful and malicious conduct.”

See 165 comments that shed light on situation.

For example, Hawaiian offered BOH visitor Brian a “no fare difference” change if he preferred to reschedule rather than refund. That could provide a very significant value if he is able to re-book for a more expensive future season. Airlines have been offering passengers various “bonuses” for not requesting a cash refund.

Plaintiff would have bought elsewhere or paid less if she had known. 

Nataly says she wouldn’t have purchased or “would have paid less for her airline tickets with Hawaiian, had she known…”

Beat of Hawaii:

So are all of us going to offer to pay airlines less next time ourselves? Let’s get real. You’ll have to read the complaint for yourself.  

In reviews below, visitors are saying that while there were initially very real problems obtain refunds for cancelled flights from all of the airlines, that has not been the general experience you’ve been reporting of recent.

DOT enforcement notice helped curb problems.

Department of Transportation’s April 3 notice clearly put to rest any question of whether you are entitled to receive a refund when your Hawaii flights (or other flights in the US are cancelled). Previously, for example, some airlines had begun updating their policies to explicitly offer refunds, in addition to fee waivers, and flight changes. That after many carriers were reluctant to indicate your ability to cancel tickets and obtain a refund, even though US DOT requirements had always mandated it for cancelled flights.

Fast-changing rules on airline tickets going forward. Up to 2 years of free changes and more.

While the airlines are definitely in a terrible situation with perhaps 95% of flights currently on hold, there’s more to the picture. In order to get us buying tickets once again, we are going to need to feel a great deal more comfortable than was true in the past. Airlines may offer a myriad of incentives to get us buying, and for not asking for refunds when we do not fly.

See most recently updated Hawaii airline change summary below.

Alaska Airlines. The company is waiving change and cancellation fees on existing bookings for travel throughout 2020 and on new reservations through May 2020.

American Airlines. Tickets purchased by April 7 for travel through September 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge. Any reservations made from April 7 through May 31 for future travel can be changed to future travel without fees.

Delta Airlines. Delta expanded travel vouchers for cancelled flights through September 2022 and allows charges at no charge on bookings through September 2020.

Hawaiian Airlines. New rules give you two years to make changes with no change fees, starting from the date of purchase. A fare difference could apply.

Southwest Airlines. They have extended the expiry of any “travel funds” for cancelled flights through June, 2021.

United Airlines. Free changes and cancellations on existing bookings for travel anytime in 2020 when changes are made by April 30

Note. Airline change rules are complex and you should read those applicable to you directly.

What else do airlines need to do in order to get us back on planes?

We welcome your thoughts and questions. Aloha!

246 thoughts on “Hawaiian Airlines Lawsuit + Fast-Paced Changes | What You Need to Know”

  1. Hawaiian Airlines is also charging more for fares when you use a credit. I found the fare online and called immediately to use my travel credit, They wanted more money and wouldn’t honor the fare published on their website so I paid them the 125. Difference. Couldn’t make that flight, and once again charged me more than the fare showing on their website. I got to a $948. credit, tried to book first class and they actually said my credit was only$556.! I have a receipt stating my credit is $948.! Something is really wrong with Hawaiian Air and their greed or poor ethics will ruin them.

  2. Please help with this one… I had a direct flight from Hawaiian airlines that they cancelled and put me on a new route with a layover. This delays my original flight by just a bit more than 2 hours. They say I’m not entitled to a refund since the new flight is less than a 6 hour time difference. The thing is I bought my tickets in March BEFORE their new policy update in April and the DOT says they can’t retroactively enforce their new policy on me. Does anyone have their previous policy on flight cancellations? I can’t find it anywhere. Thank you in advance for any input!

    1. Hi Kristen.

      Try contacting the airline via “direct message” in social media. That is what people report as having worked best.


      1. Thank you! It worked. Turns out they updated their policy very recently to being eligible for a refund if you had a two hour time difference. So I got my refund!

  3. I had a direct flight from Hawaiian airlines that they cancelled and put me on a new route with a layover. This delays my original flight by just a bit more than 2 hours. They say I’m not entitled to a refund since the new flight is less than a 6 hour time difference. The thing is I bought my tickets in March BEFORE their new policy update in April and the DOT says they can’t retroactively enforce their new policy on me. Does anyone have their previous policy on flight cancellations? I can’t find it anywhere.

    1. They tried to pull that 6 hour stuff on me when they cancelled my direct flight from Lihue to LAX in May. Ask for a supervisor. If the supervisor won’t refund you, dispute it on your credit card and report them to the Department of Transportation. DOT regulations state that ANY cancelled flight BY THE AIRLINE (if any leg of your flight plan is cancelled, doesn’t have to be the whole trip) means that you get a refund, period. Point that out to the supervisor and threaten to report them to the DOT if you have to. I got a refund after hassling them. Good luck, you will need it when dealing with Hawaiian!

  4. I had plans to go back and see my girlfriend, but the next day the put up a travel ban, and I tried to explain to hawaiian that they changed it all in a night. So I called and asked for a refund and they just kept refusing. So money down the drain.

    The part that’s sad is they are making a lot of money on the fact people can’t refund. It is part of a statistic stat. That they are banking off of. Let people have there money back on a time of need. Stealing from people they need desperately.

    1. HAL is basically acting like thugs through this whole process. They are willfully and deliberately refusing DOT rules and the subsequent DOT enforcement order to make refunds for cancelled flights. I would count on them for nothing. And that is exactly what they can count on from me in the future.

  5. My family and I had plans to vacation in Hawaii from May 2 – May 11. Our tickets from Florida to Hawaii were through United. Of course those flights were cancelled due to C0VID but after several attempts, we did finally receive that refund.

    However, we had purchased round trip tickets from Big Island to Honolulu on May 6 returning to Big Island on May 7. Hawaiian Airlines did not cancel the flights, but sent to us an email that if we came to Hawaii as planned (which we could not anyway since our flights were cancelled) we would have to quar antine for 14 days.

    Now they are offering a voucher for our tickets. Who knows when/if we will try to plan another trip to Hawaii. We had purchased travel insurance through AIG Insurance, but they refused to honor our claim since Hawaiian Airlines offered vouchers. It just doesn’t seem right, but I am sure there are others in worse shape than we are.

  6. In November of 2019, I purchased round trip flights to/from Maui for a stay of 14 days in early to mid-May 2020. In March 2020, my flight was changed from a non-stop to one with a layover and the 14-day quar antine was to be in effect. I contacted Hawaiian Airlines to request a refund due to these reasons (plus I’m in the high risk age group) and it was denied. I was informed that I needed to cancel my flights and I would receive a credit for flights to be taken by May 2022. I informed the HA customer service agent that this was not acceptable and I would file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. I received a reply from the DOT within two weeks and, within a week later, I received an email from HA stating my flight charges were being credited to my credit card account and they were. I will still fly with HA because they are my preferred airline for flights to Hawaii but I will wait until it’s safer to travel.

  7. I purchased two first class tickets in March, the price of the same tickets have reduced by $800. I called to ask for the lower fare, but they will not allow it. She said prices can go up but not down. They use to fare match. Not anymore.

  8. Hello. Can you please comment about what you may have heard about refunds for NON-canceled flights on Hawaiian? Specifically, I am on the routes between SFO/HNL that were not canceled. I have a OW flight SFO to HNL that I purchased 5/29, and my return was generously gifted from family for first class for 6/10 HNL to SFO, purchased with their insurance (where it sounds like insurance won’t matter). Despite all the changes in the allowances and rules, it sounds like I will only be able to ask for a voucher for both flights since my routes are not on the cancel list. I’d prefer a refund so I can take this off my mind, but will accept the voucher if that is really my only option. We haven’t contacted HA yet since our date isn’t until closer to the end of the month. Can you please offer your opinion on my situation? Thank you very much for your thoughts.

    1. Hi Mabel.

      Bad situation. It doesn’t seem the DOT refund rule applies unfortunately. So it is just whatever you can get the airline to do. Keep trying as others have said. Please let us know.


  9. Hello,
    We have been scheduled, since early last fall, to fly to Hawaii the first week of June. I understand the shelter-in-place and 14-day quar antine has been extended through the end of May. As of now, our flight is still scheduled, but we are concerned this could change. Does anyone know how much time, in advance, the airlines give if they do cancel flights? Also, would anyone know how much time, in advance, is given should Hawai’i extend their 14-day quar antine and shelter-in-place orders again? We feel we are in limbo, not knowing whether or trip will happen, or not. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

    1. I’m in a similar situation than you. I scheduled a flight to Maui for July 2, and I know the quarantine period will not be over then. I purchased a travel package through Costco, and have been able to cancel everything else except the plane tickets through Hawaiian Airlines. They refuse to give me a full refund. Instead, they want to force me to travel sometime between the date of my flight and March 2022. If in the future the airfare has gone up ( and I’m sure it will) they will charge me the extra amount, but if I decide to cancel they want to charge me $1,200. But if the airfare is lower within the next year or two, they won’t refund me any remainder of what I paid. Costco and the airline have been bouncing me back and forth blaming each other. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll be able to travel to Hawaii within the next year and a half. I also don’t know how much more the plane tickets will cost. I don’t think they should make anyone travel to Hawaii in the future, they should just give people their money back. This was going to be my first time traveling to Hawaii. It has left me with a really bad taste in my mouth for the airline.This is armed robbery disguised as some legal thing and I hope it comes to bite them in the butt.

      1. This is us! first time travelling to Hawaii and there are 6 in our group…we are supposed to fly tomorrow. Hawaiian would not issue a refund and they won’t cancel their flights so they have a reason not to issue a refund, very bad customer service I think, and leaves a bad impression on me…I have loaned them $5K, how can you treat your customers like that. I’ll also add that the state is not opening up even though most of America is already slowly opening is very disappointing. I may never go to Hawaii if I have a choice but now I am hooked because I got a travel voucher.

        I heard from the locals that they don’t really want the tourists there…I guess they only want our money.

  10. I finally did get a person on my messenger from Hawaiian Airlines. I ask about my refund and they said my flight from Las Vegas to HNL May 10-24/2020 has not been canceled. I said “So we fly there and stay in quar antine our whole 14 days?” He said since I wrote and canceled my trip in April when I read that the quar antine was in effect unto May 31 I can’t get a refund!! Finally he said I will send this matter to our Consumer Affairs & to just be patient. He said when they review it they will get ahold of me. The article that talked about the quar antine said if you don’t stay in your condo, hotel, or wherever it will be a $5000.00 fine & possible 1 year in prison!! Who in their right mind would want to waste all the money they spent to go there and stay in their rental? Thank for listening. Linda

    1. Hi Linda.

      Sorry to hear about this. Hopefully it will be resolved soon. Don’t hesitate to continue to reach out to them and not wait, as others have reported it taking multiple attempts to achieve resolution.


  11. What else do airlines need to do in order to get us back on planes?

    As the airlines adjust the seats to provide protective barriers between the seats (some designers are suggesting using plexiglass and reversed middle seat for example), they need to do away with the crazy upgrade seating in economy and bring back better seating. Some of the seating is like riding on a hard, wooden park bench in a vise (12 hours!). Any alterations with the current seats will feel absolutely claustrophobic. One airline I flew first class back from Hawaii had seats that barely reclined and were, again, like sitting on a park bench, just a bit wider in the seat. They need to bring back passengers are people, not dollars.

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