Nice Little Boat
Last week, Larry Ellison, #5 on Forbes richest people in the world list just bought the local airline, Island Air. A few months ago he bought the island of Lanai. During those negotiations his yacht was docked at Aloha Tower in Honolulu. Rumor has it that he actually owns two of these. Money will buy a lot of things, but it won’t buy customer loyalty.
“They Could Have (at least) Called Me!!!”
I arrived at the Island Air terminal at the Honolulu Airport at 2 PM; giving me plenty of time to go through security and board my 2:45 PM flight to Kapalua, West Maui. I had already checked in on line and had my boarding Pass. I just needed to verify the gate number.
The counter agents were clowning around with each other, and exchanging candy bars as I stood waiting, unable to get so much as eye contact with one of them. When finally called over by the agent, she looked at my boarding pass and in a very matter of fact tone said, “We are putting you on a Hawaiian Air flight to Kahului.” That’s on the opposite side of the island! She handed me two documents as she said, “Give this one to the Hawaiian Air ticket agent, and this one is a taxi voucher to get you where you are going.” I asked her to explain this to me and she coldly said, “Aircraft Maintainance.” I said, “No, that won’t work for me, just put me on a later flight.” She said, “They have all been cancelled.”
As much as I felt like complaining, I knew it wouldn’t do any good, so I picked up my bags and began walking to the other terminal thinking, “That’s it for these guys. As convenient as flying into Kapalua is, I can fly Hawaiian the morning of my meeting and spare the expense of a night at The Westin and dinner at Roy’s. I can also count on the plane to leave when scheduled.” This is the second time in three weeks that “airplane maintenance” has delayed my flight.
Unless the attitudes and recent behavior patterns I have observed at Island Air are improved, Mr. Ellison will be in for a rude awakening. I am certain he won’t even know he missed my business, however I understand that Hawaiian Air is already gearing up to fly into Kapalua.
In the 31 years that I have lived in Hawaii I have seen several airlines go bust, including the long time #2 carrier, Aloha Airlines which was driven out by recent rival Go Airlines, who shares the terminal with Island Air.
Upon arriving at Hawaiian Air I was able to convince the agent to get me on an earlier flight with a First Class upgrade for $50. I spent the flight roughing out this rant on my iPad. When we landed in Kahului I told the taxi driver that I was going to Kapalua and he flashed a big grin and couldn’t hold back a little, “Yeah!” I waited until we were well on the way before telling him that I have a voucher from Island Air. He was far from thrilled to find that out, and he asked to see it. He called his boss to get approval and then went into a funk. My guess is that inconvenienced, sometimes even angry people aren’t the best of tippers, especially when they aren’t paying for the ride. I asked the driver if the voucher includes a tip, and he laughed. I took that as a, “No Way!”
The fare to Kapalua was $91, and he wasn’t expecting anything but I gave him a $20 tip. He was thrilled. Island Air’s poor performance wasn’t his fault. Riding around the Pali and watching whales frolic offshore calmed me down. It’s rare that I have the luxury of taking in the scenery as a passenger. There’s always a bright side to every little inconvenience.
Room with a View
To complete the mellowing out experience I checked into my ocean front suite at the Westin Maui…
And strolled over to Roy’s for a huge slab of seared tofu.
Life is Good