Breaking: Ongoing Hawaiian Airlines Technology Meltdown Infuriates Passengers

Updated 630 am Thursday. This is still in process. Usually, Southwest Airlines can’t catch a break regarding technology problems, which we saw this Tuesday again. But Wednesday, bellwether Hawaiian Airlines took the brunt of the problems with an unprecedented multi-faceted technology meltdown that isn’t even over. If you read on, it appears some of this may take considerable time to sort out.

The airline says this was all part of a planned system upgrade (perhaps gone awry), and we were shown a memo that was sent to employees confirming that fact. The airline is switching from its prior Sabre platform to Amadeus. more on that below.

Their passengers and we, however, were caught entirely unaware of the event happening at all and, certainly, the magnitude, duration, and impact it would have. We aren’t how or why the switchover escalated to such a degree. Coincidentally, in his former life, BOH editor Jeff executed these types of massive upgrades in another high-profile industry.

Widespread, ongoing problems and massive flight delays.

Their technology problems rapidly escalated on Wednesday to include the following:

  • Booking tickets online remains unavailable, and the call center was deluged with calls.
  • Travelers told us that confirmation codes ceased working across all platforms.
  • Flight check-in online or at the airport lobby kiosks stopped working.
  • The only check-in was talking to an airport agent. One person reported that just four agents were available to handle all of the airline’s mainland flights at Honolulu Airport.
  • Changes to reservations are not available online. Hawaiian said, “To make changes to existing tickets after April 19, 2023, please contact our Reservations Department. We will be implementing new, enhanced self-service flight changes on our website and app in the future.”
  • Fare holds are gone. The ability to hold a reservation is suspended until further notice.
  • Use of prior travel credits will move to be online soon. Previously, that required calling the airline.
  • Saved credit cards are gone. After April 19, 2023, any existing saved payment methods will not transition to our upgraded system.”
  • App Saved Travelers is gone for now. “The ability to select travelers saved to My Account will be temporarily unavailable.” It remains available on the HA website.
  • Companion fare offers are no longer on the website.  These will now be sent “as a discount code via email instead of through the HawaiianMiles member dashboard.” Those should be arriving soon.

Hawaiian Airlines flight delays on Wednesday included:

  • Honolulu: 127 flights were delayed, or 83% of all flights.
  • Maui: 61 flights were delayed, or 82% of all flights.
  • Lihue: 33 flights were delayed, or 89% of all flights.
  • Kona: 30 flights were delayed, or 78% of all flights.

It’s too early to know how Thursday will go regarding ongoing flight delays from these problems.

Hawaiian Airlines’ website not working correctly.

As of 7 am Thursday, heading to the Hawaiian Airlines website still provided a bright red warning banner.

The banner makes it appear that at least the scope of the outage was planned, which we are not sure is, in fact, the case. Their technology page about the issues was only published today.

Nonetheless, the image above is hard to read, but here’s what it says.

“Scheduled system outage: April 18-19
Our scheduled system outage is complete, but booking new tickets on or on our mobile app is not yet available as we bring our systems back online. You may book new tickets through your preferred online travel agency.

We are also experiencing intermittent errors with check-in on our website. For best results, you can use the mobile app to check-in for your flight or see an agent at the airport.

Our contact center is experiencing high call volume, and you may experience longer than normal hold times. Thank you for your patience and please click here for more information on our technology upgrade.”

Hawaiian Airlines’ Facebook page went radio silent after never mentioning the plan.

Hawaiian Airlines’ typically busy Facebook page went radio silent starting Tuesday at 11 am. That was still the case as of Thursday morning. Noticeably absent was any warning of the upcoming “planned upgrade.” Non-moderated comments since then showed the frustration of passengers and included:

“What is happening with Hawaiian Airlines?! Why aren’t you guys posting about the system problems and this being a National wide issue.”

Also, “How about you concentrate on the ridiculous amount of flight delays that are occurring.”

Light at the end of the tunnel.

It looks like the changes will vastly improve areas where Hawaiian technology was behind its competitors. We look forward to their getting this sorted out and passengers having all of the new capabilities found here.

Hawaiian is moving from Sabre to Amadeus.

Hawaiian joins tech-heavy Etihad, which just last month completed its move from Sabre to Amadeus. Actually, we remember 10 years ago exactly when the Gulf carrier moved in the opposite direction, and that move, too, had nightmarish proportions. These multi-function systems are at the very core of an airline’s operations.

Amadeus is at its core a reservation system and a global distribution system that sells tickets for multiple airlines. The company is based in Madrid and its database is based in Germany. Its development is in France, India, the UK and the US. It also provides what are called Departure Control Systems for airlines.

The core airline system is known as Altea, which is said to give airline a more personalized guest experience, greater flexibility and control. It will benefit Hawaiian through what one carrier called “Next-generation retailing and inventory management capabilities provide a more dynamic experience for travel partners.”

Southwest Airlines made a move to Amadeus some five years ago.

Airport agents were overwhelmed by the sheer number of passengers who needed to be accommodated. If you got stuck in the lines at the airport or online, please add your comments below.

Photo credit: Makani Tabura.


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72 thoughts on “Breaking: Ongoing Hawaiian Airlines Technology Meltdown Infuriates Passengers”

  1. Hawaiian Airlines needs to show the status of their online reservation system on their website. Searching for flights on their website site appears to be working, but nothing happens

  2. I haven’t been reimbursed or received an email back in regards to my trip disaster on 4/14.
    This is the kicker, I am now getting random charges on my credit card a month later from Hawaiian Air. This has a class action lawsuit written all over it. This is ridiculous.

  3. The Hawaiian Airlines website is not taking payments with Gift cards. Tried to book 2 times online and 2 times with phone reservations and even with a confirmation number none of the reservations were finalized. Had to use a credit card to get a confirmed reservation. Please update your website plus your phone reservation personnel were unable to book with the gift cards as payment either.
    Used to be so easy to book online. What happened?????

  4. Booked a flight from Oahu to mainland for 9/16,as my payment was processing on the website it crashed so I had to repeat and book again.The next day I see that I’ve been double booked,on 9/8 AND 9/16.I used the chat on my Hawaiian Airlines app and was on hold for over 3 hours didn’t get a response until after midnight mainland time. So this morning I called customer svc and was advised to request a refund for the 9/8 flight via HA website and rebook for the correct date of 9/16. I completed the request,clicked to submit-a red box popped up stating they’re facing technical difficulties.I filled out a new form online again, got the same red pop up. Worst website I’ve ever used, considering ending my membership to join a competitor.

  5. Issue is repeating itself today (Friday, May 12). Computer issues(or audit issues?) caused check-in delays, and all planes being grounded for an estimated 3+ hours (no telling if this will be longer at the time this comment is posted).

    Customer service/gate agents made no efforts to make timely announcements, resulting in curious passengers filing at the gate to ask questions. Instead of making a clear announcement, airline staff rudely snapped at everyone for asking the same question and closed off access to the gate. Only then was a vague announcement made throughout the entire airport (Kona).

    Our day is completely wasted due to this and Hawaiian Airlines needs to take responsibility for the cost they’ve caused their customer to incur.

    1. For all their faults, SWA eventually took care of (monetary wise) their customers when they had their meltdown.

  6. We arrived at the Kona airport flying to Maui and the Kauai. The lines were backed up due to the computer glitch upgrade whatever. We spent till 4:30 pm in Kona finally barely caught a flight to Honolulu to Kauai getting there at 630. An entire day of our 7 Day vacation taken away from us. We would like to be compensated for that loss.

  7. It’s been a week since I posted here since my trip disaster. I have emailed Hawaiian Airlines Customer Support twice for Reimbursement for my hotel, food and transportation bill that they are responsible for. Nobody has responded. How do they plan on reimbursing their customers?

  8. A once great airline has become run-of-the-mill with really no differentation between it and other airlnes. Earlier before the tech meltdown, they cancelled our mid=morning flight and rescheduled it to 7am and would not let me cancel the reservation. THis was no small thing as I work till 11pm and getting the airport earlier than normal because of the meltdown was really a stretch for me. When i made the oriignal reservation the website was not working and we had to contact the agent who was supposed to use my miles for a free flight but did not. At least at SFO on 4/26 they seemed to have resolved their tech issues by then and check-in was glitch free. On the airplane, passengers were treated as cattle Never again!

  9. We were involved in this debacle starting Tuesday morning 4-18. We received a text that our flight from Phoenix to Honolulu was delayed followed by a text that the system would be down from 12:30pm 4-18 until Thursday 4-20.
    An hour later another text arrived delaying our flight further.I was able to get on phone and tell them I wanted to be switched to an American Airlines flight. They accommodated this request promptly, which surprised me. They must have known the issue that was coming. I felt we dodged a bullet as all of this seemed to unravel on 4-19.
    Returning a week later, 4-25, we could not check in and had to wait in long lines to get seat assignments home. Big mess. Done with Hawaiian!

  10. I have a printed email confirmation from Hawaiian Airlines for my inter-island flight on Thu 4/27 but the app and website shows I have no upcoming trips. I’ve tried using the confirmation code and ticket number with no success, and “yes” my Rewards number is on the printed confirmation. Was going to call the Reservations Center but Hawaiian has a message posted on their website that the Center is closed. Not looking forward to Thursday.


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