Watch Hawaii Airfares Climb As Southwest + Hawaiian Learn Co-Existence

Reminiscent of Southwest: Hawaiian Airlines Debacle Delayed 830 Flights

Today is day four, following what will long be remembered as the mangled Hawaiian Airlines’ reservation system upgrade to Amedeus from Sabre. We’re happy to report that the situation is much better today, which is excellent news for everyone. However, as you’ll see below, work remains to be done.

In the end, while 830 flights were delayed, it went far beyond that, and the impact on those traveling, the airline’s staff, and the company’s finances were enormous. We don’t know yet if the magnitude of this event will come under the purview of the Department of Transportation if for no other reason than a large number of delayed flights.

Many, if not most, passengers were caught entirely unaware, as we were, about the upgrade event occurring. No one, likely including Hawaiian, was aware that the problems would be so severe – stopping all website and app reservations for days and preventing check-ins, among other things. We’ll surely learn more about what actually went wrong soon.

When Southwest had its nationwide meltdown last December, it was of a vastly different nature and size, impacting tens of thousands of flights. Southwest, which is some ten times larger than Hawaiian, did not have the technology and other resources to manage the issues that escalated rapidly from a horrendous weather event into a nationwide shutdown for the airline. On top of that, last week, Southwest had a mini-meltdown when a software firewall failure led to a brief nationwide ground stop. Southwest’s lack of investment in appropriate technology has been repeatedly called out as the core of its problems.

Lack of appropriate technology investment certainly isn’t the case at Hawaiian. In any event, however, what’s most reminiscent is how quickly things can spiral out of control, even at companies like these two airlines, which are behemoths of the travel industry. And that when things do go awry, travelers can suffer greatly.

As of Saturday evening, April 22, Hawaiian’s issues are far fewer.

Earlier today, their app started working again after being inaccessible since Wednesday. This morning, for example, when BOH checked on a flight next week using the app, the reservation could not be found, whereas a previously canceled flight reappeared as an active reservation.

The Hawaiian Airlines’ website is also working again. We were able to make new reservations and also retrieve existing reservations.

Hawaiian Airlines flights cannot, however, be found on Google Flights. They disappeared from the essential flight portal, which is not fixed as of Saturday evening. If you start your flight searches on Google Flights like many other people, and we do, you will notice that their flights are noticeably absent, per the image below.

830 Hawaiian Airlines flight delays since Wednesday:

What is most apparent is that the number of delays is now less than half of what it has been over the past few days.

1. Wednesday, 4/19. (251 flights delayed).

  • 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.

2. Thursday, 4/20. (259 flights delayed).

  • Honolulu: 131 flights were delayed, or 67% of all flights.
  • Maui: 61 flights were delayed, or 67% of all flights.
  • Lihue: 33 flights were delayed, or 68% of all flights.
  • Kona: 34 flights were delayed, or 72% of all flights.

3. Friday, 4/21. (229 flights delayed).

  • Honolulu: 108 flights were delayed, or 55% of all flights.
  • Maui: 61 flights were delayed, or 67% of all flights.
  • Lihue: 30 flights were delayed, or 62% of all flights.
  • Kona: 30 flights were delayed, or 78% of all flights.

4. Saturday, 4/22. (91 flights delayed).

  • Honolulu: 47 flights were delayed, or 25% of all flights.
  • Maui: 23 flights were delayed, or 27% of all flights.
  • Lihue: 14 flights were delayed, or 31% of all flights.
  • Kona: 7 flights were delayed, or 15% of all flights.

Here’s what happened From Wednesday through Friday.

  • Booking tickets online remained unavailable, and the call center was overwhelmed with calls.
  • Confirmation codes changed, and the old ones ceased working on all platforms.
  • Flight check-in online and at airport lobby kiosks stopped.
  • Check-in was only via an airport agent.
  • Changes to reservations were 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 ended abruptly. The ability to hold a reservation has been suspended.
  • Saved credit cards disappeared. After April 19, 2023, any existing saved payment methods will not transition to our upgraded system.”
  • App Saved Travelers disappeared. “The ability to select travelers saved to My Account will be temporarily unavailable.”
  • Companion fare offers became unavailable. “discount code via email instead of through the HawaiianMiles member dashboard” are due to be sent out soon. We haven’t received them thus far.

Today the red warning banner that had topped the website changed from red to purple. You can read their latest update on the situation here.

Earlier warning:

“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 silent for two days.

Its typically busy Facebook page went silent from Tuesday at 11 am until Thursday afternoon. Perhaps more significantly, there was never an announcement of the forthcoming upgrade on their Facebook page.

Comments included the following:

“Are you joking! 4 hours yesterday, 2 hours in first class line, with each customer taking 30 minutes plus…only 2 agents and the line 40 deep…because you did your training in January and had no assistance yesterday from the software company that provided the new software; the agents were searching through training manuals to try to figure out how to work the new software and…when everything went to hell, nothing but crickets. This was completely avoidable, and all of us who had to endure should get Compensated. Reminded me of the Southwest fiasco.

“Same happened to us. Everyone on our flight “lost” their seat assignments due to the system change and were reissued seats at random. This broke up many families who had paid the extra cost to select better seats together over 9 months ago, yet were not compensated. We sat on the tarmac for 2 hours yesterday while the poor ground crew and flight crew did their best to get everyone a seat… To add insult to our injury Hawaiian lost our luggage (along with everyone else who started their journey in Kauai) despite the hours long delay at the gate on our second flight.

“20-year Platinum member. Aloha is gone from HA. They don’t care anymore.”

“Shame on you Hawaiian Airlines. We can’t book online or via the app and yet you give us no updates as to when this issue will be fixed. Just called to book my flights and waited for 52 minutes, only to result in someone picking up the line, then hanging up. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I know this is unforeseen, but at the very least, keep your customers updated on the progress so we’re not wasting our time.”

“I saw the chaos firsthand at Kahului (OGG) on 4/20/2023. I completed my work assignment earlier than expected and decided to switch to an earlier flight back to Honolulu, which has Never been an issue in the past. While waiting in the Guest Services line, I watched 4 people (3 HawnAir employees and 1 Amadeus employee) hovering over one PC trying to figure something out. Meanwhile, the line is getting longer. Fortunately, HawaiianAir representative at the “Bag Drop” counter waved me over and got me switched to an earlier flight, which ended up being delayed 90 minutes. Good thing I got on that flight, though, because my original flight out was cancelled at the last minute. Time to switch to Southwest?”

Why Hawaiian moved from Sabre to Amadeus.

Hawaiian joins other tech-heavy airlines, like Etihad, which seemed to have rather seamlessly completed its move from Sabre to Amadeus last month. Other Amadeus customers include British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qatar, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM. You may recall that Southwest Airlines also moved to Amadeus about five years ago.

How were you impacted this week by the Hawaiian Airlines software problems?

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35 thoughts on “Reminiscent of Southwest: Hawaiian Airlines Debacle Delayed 830 Flights”

  1. Nice headline BOH “Reminiscent of Southwest: Hawaiian Airlines Debacle Delayed 830 Flights” A screwup like Hawaiians should deserver its very own headline. I know you folks have Hawaiian as a sponsor and they are the “Bellwether” of Hawaii, but you guys should be fair and objective. Hawaiian has a much simpler operation than southwest with a 1/6 of the number of flights daily.
    A screw up like theirs deserves its very own headline and you guys need to stop either overtly or covertly bashing SWA. It should also be noted that SWA’s problems had a very minor impact on the Hawaii operations and they operated full schedule during covid.

    1. Hi Dan.

      Just to be clear. We have no more financial relationship with Hawaiian than we do with Southwest. They are not “a sponsor” of Beat of Hawaii in any way. Both airlines (and others) choose to advertise on Beat of Hawaii through ad auctions, which is its extent. And when Beat of Hawaii travels, it is always paid for by Beat of Hawaii.


    2. DAN, SWA shut down their Hawaii flights when they had their issues. Their issues are much deeper as their problems are a ticking time bomb waiting to happen again (the VP of the pilots union said so) The issue is they have to reboot their antiquated system every night (which is why there are no red eye’s?) SWA’s problems are far deeper. SWA had no business flying to Hawaii during Covid, they weren’t needed but they were trying to break into the market and saw an opening. It appears their business model doesn’t really work flying Transpac… especially their satellite inter island service. SWA boosted about “coming after Hawaiian” when they started here, they deserve all the negative comparisons they are receiving.

    3. The Hawaiian issue is dwarfed by the SWA issues in severity and scale which are endemic to SWA’s existing technology and lack of spending on technology upgrades vs. Hawaiian’s recent issue during a transition to an upgrade. Also the severity difference between a delay and a cancellation , so 830 delays (HAL) versus 16,700 cancellations (SWA) is comparing two different things, and even if SWA’s were just delays (which they have plenty of on a normal basis) it is not even 6 times the scale stated, far far more. Hawaiian kept trying and got it done, SWA just gave up and cancelled, they lost control and didn’t know which crews where in which aircraft. I didn’t get to see my grand-daughter at Christmas thanks to SWA.

  2. Complain, complain, complain!

    If you really wanted to fix the airline system you’d tell people about the Airline Regulation Act, in force until 1978, and push for its reinstatement. Airlines were regulated by the CAB specifically to eliminate today’s chaotic airfare competition: a ticket cost exactly the same on every route, regardless of the airline. The CAB guaranteed that consumers paid a reasonable fare, and that each carrier made a reasonable profit. The airlines competed for customers by providing the best comfort, best service, most legroom, greatest meals, etc. And the system eliminated the constant appearance of new low-cost carriers and the chaos and miserable service they brought with them.

  3. Logged into my Hawaiian Miles Account. Went to MY TRIPS & entered confirmation code and/or ticket number and last name for an upcoming trip to Japan, it displays this message – Sorry!
    We’re sorry, the last name and Confirmation Code or eTicket Number entered could not be located. If travel has already occurred, please use your 13-digit eTicket Number, as the Confirmation Code is no longer valid. If you continue to experience difficulty accessing a future or past reservation, please contact us. [WEB:MT100]
    This is an upcoming trip, not a past trip. Neither the 6-diget Confirmation Code, nor 13-digit eTicket Number works.Let’s hope they get this sorted out ASAP and send out an email to all of their customers that this has been resolved!

    1. Hey Lisa B did they resolve your problem? I have the same one and I’ve spent 12 hours on the phone to only get garbage answers. They said my trip was never ticketed when I booked in February for our trip in May. It literally showed our trip and was paid for up until the day of the update. Then like magic my miles were fully refunded and Hawaiian says its not their fault. I’m driving to speak to a ticket agent tomorrow to hopefully get this sorted out.

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