After Hawaiian Airlines canceled their flight, Victoria Wasserman and her family spent over $500 for food and hotel accommodations. Wasserman sought full reimbursement from Hawaiian Airlines, but it would pay only half of the cost.
Why won’t Hawaiian Airlines cover all of Wasserman’s costs?
The Wassermans had used HawaiianMiles to book their round-trip flights from San Francisco to Maui. After boarding the plane in Maui for return to San Francisco, and waiting on board for about an hour, Hawaiian Airlines removed the passengers because of mechanical issues. After waiting at the airport for nine hours, the Wassermans’ flight was canceled.
Hawaiian Airlines rebooked Wasserman and her family on a flight leaving from Honolulu the following day. Wasserman and her family flew to Honolulu and were given a hotel voucher for the night.
Upon arrival at the Honolulu hotel, the Best Western Plaza, Wasserman was told that “because of the late hour, the only rooms available had one bed.” There were three members in their party traveling, and one bed wasn’t an acceptable accommodation. The Wassermans checked themselves into a Hilton that had suitable accommodations, at a cost of $260.
The Wassermans’ expenses for food and lodging were $585. They submitted their receipts to Hawaiian Airlines, but it would only reimburse them $280. The Wassermans were told Hawaiian Airlines’ guidelines limited reimbursement to $130 for a hotel and $50 per person for food. Although Hawaiian Airlines’ rules for delays and cancellations for confirmed passengers set forth its policies for cancelled or delayed flights, the rules do not specify a monetary limit for lodging or meals.
The rules provide:
The carrier will assume the expenses outlined below for all passengers incurred as a result of cancellation, delay or interruption of any flight on which a passenger holds confirmed reservations.
Hotel Rooms – HA will provide one-night’s lodging at accommodation selected by HA when a passenger’s delay is expected to exceed 4 hours and extend into the period 10:00 pm through 6:00 am, and no scheduled alternate transportation is available to the passenger’s destination or stopover point.
Meals – Passengers will be furnished one meal voucher if the delay will extend beyond the four (4) hours.
Hawaiian Airlines’ own guidelines state that it will cover these expenses for “all passengers.” Yet, in Wasserman’s case it clearly considered the three Wassermans as one passenger for lodging purposes. By its own rules, Hawaiian Airlines could have been obligated to reimburse each Wasserman for his or her own hotel room. And, it seems that the Wassermans did Hawaiian Airlines a favor when they spent the mysterious hotel “guideline” limit for two passengers, to accommodate three. But, Hawaiian Airlines wasn’t going to reimburse Wasserman any more than $260.
In addition to being reimbursed for their hotel and food expenses, the Wassermans wanted their miles returned to their Hawaiian Miles accounts.
Wasserman could have posted a query to our help forums which are staffed by industry experts, and often read by company executives. Our forum advocates may have had helpful suggestions for her.
Wasserman contacted Hawaiian Airlines customer service, and it ignored her. Our advocates tried contacting Hawaiian Airlines on the Wassermans’ behalf, and it ignored us too. Then, she sent Hawaiian Airlines executives a letter and complained about the lack of response and the reimbursement amount. We list executive contact information for companies on our website company contacts.
After Wasserman escalated her complaint by sending a letter to a company executive, Hawaiian Airlines replied. In addition to the $260 reimbursement, it deposited 1,500 miles in each of the Wassermans’ Hawaiian Miles accounts, and issued $300 in future travel vouchers for each of them.
Hawaiian Airlines wouldn’t reimburse more than $260 of the $585 the Wassermans requested, but in the end, it did compensate them.