Navigating Hawaii Flight Compensation Now: “Stranded In Paradise”

A comment earlier today from a Beat of Hawaii reader has brought to light the ongoing issue of airline passenger compensation. The reader recounted their experience on Hawaiian Airlines flight HA 62 from Kona (KOA) to Los Angeles (LAX), which faced a significant delay. Scheduled to depart at 3:25 PM, the flight didn’t take off until after 10 PM, a nearly seven-hour delay. Passengers were provided with a mere $20 food voucher and no further compensation. This raises the question: Do passengers have any recourse in such situations?

“April 8th….. Hawaiian Airlines flight HA 62 didn’t take off from KOA to LAX for 7 hours….. Was suppose to be a 3:25PM take off but actually didn’t take off until 10:15pm…. everyone was given $20 for food…… and that was it….. no other compensation….. do all of us on flight have a recourse… ???”

BOH Reader Leland

The current state of airline passenger compensation as relates to Hawaii flights.

Airline passenger compensation in the U.S. is limited and still varies widely between airlines. Generally, compensation is offered based on the nature and severity of the problem, such as delays, cancellations, denied boarding, and lost or damaged baggage. However, the specific policies and the extent of compensation offered differ significantly between airlines, particularly for flights to and from Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Commitment per U.S. DOT Dashboard.

Hawaiian Airlines, like other U.S. carriers, has a set of commitments for controllable delays and cancellations. These include:

  • Rebooking on the same or partner airline at no additional cost.
  • Providing meals or meal vouchers for delays of 3 hours or more.
  • Offering complimentary hotel accommodations and ground transportation for overnight delays.

However, Hawaiian Airlines does not provide:

  • Cash compensation for delays of 3 hours or more.
  • Credit/travel vouchers or frequent flyer miles for delays of 3 hours or more.

This policy gap often leaves passengers like those on flight HA 62, including Leland, feeling inadequately compensated, especially for long delays such as this.

Comparing compensation across airlines flying to Hawaii.

Other airlines that fly to Hawaii, such as American Airlines, Delta, and United, have very similar policies to one another and to Hawaiian, but with some differences.

Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, however, differ significantly in this area. They both offer frequent flyer miles or travel vouchers for delays of 3 hours or more, although, unfortunately, they also do not provide cash compensation.

Could a successful Alaska Air acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines improve passenger compensation?

That’s a thought we continue to ponder, as many of you have in your comments. There are a number of areas where Hawaiian could benefit significantly from Alaska’s wherewithal. One of those is technology, another is customer service, and a third is Alaska’s better passenger compensation.

Passengers on delayed flights do have some recourse, though it often involves either navigating the airline’s customer service options or pursuing legal action. In the case of Hawaiian Airlines flight HA 62, passengers could potentially argue that the $20 food voucher was insufficient for a seven-hour delay.

If Leland wishes to seek further compensation, he could do the following:

1. Contact Hawaiian Airlines customer service to request additional compensation.
2. File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
3. Consider legal action if the compensation offered does not cover the incurred expenses and inconvenience.

Enters trip insurance.

Given the limited compensation policies of U.S. airlines, trip insurance becomes a worthwhile consideration for travelers on Hawaii flights. While it adds to the cost of travel (often 5-10%), it can provide coverage that Leland seeks for delays, as well as cancellations, and other unforeseen issues, potentially saving passengers from significant out-of-pocket expenses.

That being said, trip insurance is another level of hassle when traveling. Travel insurance providers don’t make it particularly easy to make claims against policies. When using trip insurance, you will need to document all details, from the purchase of the flight to the expenses, together with physical documentation on everything. For a seven-hour delay, it may well not be worth it.

There is a need for clear and comprehensive compensation policies.

The experience of Hawaiian Airlines flight HA 62 passengers underscores the need for better compensation policies that can be clearly understood, whether for flight delays or cancellations. While U.S. airlines, including those with flights to and from Hawaii, offer some compensation, it often falls short compared to international standards. For example, European and UK regulations mandate refunds of up to $600 per passenger for delays over three hours.

There is clearly room for U.S. airlines, together with regulators, to improve this situation. Passengers should stay aware of their rights when events occur, consider trip insurance, and be prepared to advocate for fair compensation for disruptions. Keep in mind the U.S. DOT Dashboard and refer to it for specifics related to your Hawaii flights.

If you have any experiences or questions about airline compensation on flights to Hawaii, feel free to share them in the comments.

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14 thoughts on “Navigating Hawaii Flight Compensation Now: “Stranded In Paradise””

  1. Ran into a similar situation in Feb on AA. They refunded a good chunk of my 1st class ticket since I ended up flying coach from DFW since I took the first available flight out, and put 10,000 miles into my Advantage account. Couldn’t really complain….

    Best Regards

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