Forgive the rant, but tangling with airline bureaucracy is never a “walk in the park.” It’s more like treading water in the middle of the ocean…with no land in sight.
So why get involved with a dragon that breathes fire, while rearing its massive, unwieldy head? Or in this case…Methusala with her many heads, all of which do not converse with one another?
Well, I’ll tell you.
Our family is planning a visit to Hawaii to see relatives and enjoy some time together in the sun, sand, and blue waters. Normally my husband books the cheapest flights he can find. To the islands, it’s more than likely we’ll fly with Alaska Airlines. This time, however, I insisted we fly on Hawaiian Airlines, the unofficially crowned carrier of the islands where my husband and I were born.
Call it nostalgia. Call it hokey. But from what I recollect, the flight attendants pour on the famed Aloha Spirit the minute you step through the aircraft door. And it doesn’t stop until you touch down on a Hawaiian island runway.
At least that’s my expectation.
Unfortunately from what I’ve already experienced on the administrative end…methinks I smell a rotten on-board experience in the offing as well. Or at the very least, little sign of the so-called Aloha Spirit.
What started this rant? A seemingly innocuous email from Hawaiian Airlines.
Almost immediately after our flight was booked, I got an email touting a “Dream Fare” from Seattle to Honolulu for $538, round trip. Almost $200 cheaper than what we’d paid, I took the advice of a niece to call and see if we might take advantage of the lower rate.
Unbeknownst to me, when I called Reservations, I was actually dialing an offshore call center in the Philippines. I wondered as I spoke with the woman whose heavy accent was, at times, difficult to understand. I had to ask her to repeat herself several times.
After explaining my situation, she put me on hold while she went in search of an answer…a couple of times. When she returned the second time, she indicated that she’d be transferring me to another department for what I thought was a price adjustment.
I got Greg in Web Support, which I’ve since learned is also in the Philippines.
Repeating the reason for my call, Greg told me that the only way I could take advantage of the lower fare was to cancel my previous reservations for which I would pay a penalty.
Duh??? What brainiac at Hawaiian Airlines thought I was going to go through the hassle…to pay…to save?
Having agreed to a survey beforehand, I blasted away with both barrels firing.
Evidently the Marketing Department dreamed up the “Dream Fare” email, ASSUMING the recipient would know not to call if he or she had already booked a flight. No, there was no mention of this in the email. With Hawaii being the destination and the fare being that low, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the bargain?
As I told both offshore reps for Hawaiian Airlines, had the email specified that the offer did not apply to previously booked reservations I would have deleted it. End of story.
When I asked to speak with a supervisor, Greg directed me to the airline’s Consumer Advocate’s office. “Wow!” I thought. “Hawaiian Airlines actually goes through the trouble of installing on-site advocacy for passengers?” Well, don’t expect too much. It’s more than likely also in the Philippines. And if it is in fact in Hawaii, it’s a last resort effort to be heard.
As of yet, I still hadn’t spoken with anyone from Hawaiian Airlines itself. It’s cheaper for them to have foreigners front the operation. Not something other corporations aren’t guilty of as well. More money in their pockets if labor costs originate in poorer countries whose folks are willing to work for pittance.
But the Aloha Spirit airlines skimping on…the ALOHA? OMG! What’s this world coming to?
At first I decided to end the charade and not call the consumer advocate. A glutton for punishment, I decided to take Hawaiian Airlines up on its offer to have someone take up my cause…before I took the matter into my own, very capable hands and went directly to the top of the pyramid.
I provided Hannah, the consumer advocate, with a thorough rundown of my conversations. She filled out a form for submission, agreeing that the email misled in its omission that booked passengers need not inquire. Hannah explained that I should receive feedback within 30 business days. I decided I would probably not hear back, but that I did what I could at this peripheral level of Hawaiian Airlines.
Almost immediately, I received an email from Nel/GBA of Web Support asking that I provide her with the fare I was seeking to re-book. I forwarded her the email I’d received to which came an instant email reply that no one was tending the site. Frustrated, I called the consumer advocate back for help. Wouldn’t you know it? I couldn’t speak to Hannah again because Olive was unable to transfer my call.
Okay. So I repeated my entire story to Olive. Of course I huffed and puffed my way through, explaining that this was only adding more fuel to the fire. Explaining that I had to attach the original Dream Fare email to my reply responding to the email I had just received, rather than forwarding it separately, was like telling a very old dog to do a trick he’d only ever done once before. Now, how did that trick go? Instead, Olive sent an email to Web Support on my behalf. Meanwhile, I simultaneously sent a reply telling Nel/GBA of Web Support indicating what the lower fare was.
The final outcome of this several act Hawaiian Airlines farce is that the following email was sent that has seemingly ratcheted up the ante.
…call Web Support at 1-866-586-9419…
We can actually do some price adjustment on your reservation, though when we tried repricing it, we were not able to get the same fare anymore, as it is possible that the fares advertised is already sold out.
We hope you can call us as soon as you can so we can see about possibly doing some price adjustments after assessment. We are open 24/7 so you can call at your convenience.
Feel free to contact us or reply back if you have any more inquiries. Web Support is open 24/7 to take in your web-related concerns.
Hawaiian Airlines Web Support
I called early this morning and had to repeat my entire story for the fifth time to Jervis. Evidently Nel/GBA sends emails, but doesn’t do phone calls. Very matter-of-factly, Jervis told me that the lower fare was no longer available for my flight. Probably the allotted number of seats for $538 had been filled.
Jervis, Olive, Hannah, Greg, and the first rep I spoke with all apologized for any inconvenience caused me by Hawaiian Airlines.
Rather than doing another annoying, pre-programmed, so-called “short” survey at the end of my call with Jervis, I told him I’d be blogging about the long, bumpy road I’ve traveled in less than 24 hours with Hawaiian Airlines.
It all started with an email that came hot-on-the-heels of booking our reservations. Makes me think Hawaiian Airlines’ Marketing didn’t check beforehand to see that we already booked and, therefore, couldn’t claim the Dream Fare being advertised. Were they trying to play…GOTCHA? Or is it that they’re just dumb?
Check out our latest low fares to Hawaii and book your next flight on Hawaiian Airlines today! Enjoy complimentary meals served at appropriate mealtimes and our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as soon as you step on board.***Booking Period: Apr 29 – May 5, 2014
Travel Period: Jun 13 – Aug 11, 2014
My thoughts are that as well-intentioned as their consumer advocacy program might be, it is merely a fancy spin on an old ploy of…”dodging the bullet.” A lot of fancy footwork here, even rivaling that made famous by boxing notable Muhammad Ali, in his prime. Jervis indicated I’d hear from Nel/GBA. I think not. She’s probably some phantom embodiment for Hawaiian Airlines Web Support.
So our family will head for the distant shores of our ancestors enjoying whatever Aloha Spirit we find en route. With what I’ve experienced of them thus far, I’m no longer expecting Hawaiian Airlines to provide anything more in the way of on board service than I would find on Alaska Airlines or Delta Airlines, for that matter. And from now on, I’ll remember that age-old saying…
…if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is!