Hawaiian Airlines leaves Marine stuck with huge fare change

By | June 29th, 2016

What’s a company’s word worth? If you said “nothing” then you must be acquainted with Elaina Savino, whose boyfriend is having trouble flying from Honolulu to Boston on Hawaiian Airlines.

Savino’s boyfriend is a U.S. Marine who is about to be deployed. He purchased a ticket to come home for an affordable $896, which is a real bargain, considering that it’s a 5,000-mile journey.

“His leave days got changed,” she says. “He wanted to switch his departure date so that he didn’t waste his extra leave day. He called to switch his ticket and an agent said this transaction could only be done through e-mail.”

So Savino’s boyfriend tried email. The response? Sorry, tickets can only be changed by phone.

“When he called the airline back there was now a large amount of money — between $600 and $1,000 — in fare difference he needed to pay.”

Now, those of you who know the system are probably tut-tutting right now. (“He should have used a travel agent. He should have read the fine print. He should have bought insurance.”)

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Here’s a young man who is putting his life on the line for his country. Do you think he has the time to study Hawaiian’s fare restrictions? Neither do I.

“When my boyfriend originally called, there was no fare besides the change fee,” says Savino. “If that agent hadn’t misinformed him, he wouldn’t have to pay that fare because the ticket prices were even.”

That’s the real question. Should a company be good for its word?

The Marine who called Hawaiian had every reason to believe it would do what it said. It’s one of the bedrock principles of the Corps.


This is the bedrock of our character. It is the quality that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior: to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; and to have respect and concern for each other. It represents the maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability that commit Marines to act responsibly, be accountable for their actions, fulfill their obligations, and hold others accountable for their actions.

Honesty is also part of Hawaiian’s mission statement.

Our values

Integrity – communicating clearly, openly, and honestly; being true to our word, our plans and our responsibilities

Diversity – valuing the abilities, knowledge and perspectives of others as differences that make us collectively stronger

Achievement – setting and achieving our goals individually and as a team

Responsibility – each one of us taking responsibility for ourselves, each other and the company

Teamwork – helping others achieve their objectives

Passion – putting positive energy into everything we do

Change – continually improving what we do as individuals and as a team and how we do it

Hospitality – always projecting the aloha spirit to our guests, to the community and to each other

In other words, if a Hawaiian agent said the Marine could make a change without paying extra, he had every reason to believe it.

And yet the airline insiders reading this will tell us (wait for it in the comments, please) that’s not how the system works and it’s incumbent upon this Marine to know the system. Never mind that the system is not logical or fair. If he doesn’t like it, he can take the slow boat to the port of Long Beach. Halfway through the journey, they will point out, his leave time will be up and he’ll be AWOL.

Savino has tried to help from her end.

“I talked to multiple ticketing agents, corporate, and customer service agents, supervisors, and managers,” she explains. “No one was of any help, and most of the people I spoke to were very rude. The company wouldn’t give me a solid answer about if they could waive the fees or not and continued to forward me to different departments claiming that ‘this department will definitely help you.’ I’ve filed many complaints. None of them were answered.”

Should our advocates jump in and try to make this situation right? Or is the Marine wrong?

Should we take Elaina Savino's case?

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