Most likely, yesterday we took our last flight on Hawaiian Airlines. For about twenty years we've flown direct from Portland, Oregon to Maui. In January 2012 Hawaiian dropped non-stop Portland-Maui flights.
So my wife and I are going to drop Hawaiian. We had lots of frequent flyer miles accumulated through our usually-annual flights to Maui, supplemented by our habitual use of a Hawaiian Airlines VISA card, which gave us one mile for every dollar charged.
This year we used up almost all of our frequent flyer miles to buy "free" tickets for a flight to Maui that required a plane change in Honolulu. Ugh. Never again.
From now on we'll fly Alaska Airlines' non-stop to Maui from Portland. And cancel our Hawaiian VISA card. Hawaiian Airlines made a bad business decision.
Have you enjoyed direct flights from Maui to Portland on Hawaiian Airlines? That service is about to end. Beginning mid-January, you will need to make connecting flights through Honolulu.
This move is bad for Maui tourism. Nonstop service is what attracts visitors to the Neighbor Islands. With fewer options for direct flights, tourists who understand the consequences of connecting flights will opt for a different airline or a different locale to visit.
The Portland flights always seem full, but if statistics show otherwise, why drop the number of days for the direct service to zero? We understand that difficult business decisions sometimes need to be made, but we don't understand the wisdom of deserting an existing market entirely.
Yesterday we asked a Hawaiian Airlines employee why the non-stop flight was cancelled.
"I have no idea," we were told. "The company doesn't tell us employees anything. The direct flights were almost always full. People liked them. Now we're losing business travelers who can't get to Maui early enough to do a full day's work. You should write Hawaiian and complain."
For sure. I'm going to.
Maybe it won't make any difference, but the more people who gripe about losing the non-stop Portland to Maui flight, the more Hawaiian Airlines will realize that whoever dreamed up this stupid move made a bad decision.
From a Facebook page, I learned that [email protected] is an email address to send complaints to. And the above-quoted letter from The Maui News says, "Leona Duarte at the airline is accepting email from affected travelers/businesses, [email protected]" So I'm going to send my message to both email addresses.
I'm going to let Hawaiian Airlines know that it was much less enjoyable to fly to Maui through Honolulu. Yesterday my wife and I left Maui pretty much on schedule at 12:45 pm. Our flight to Portland left Honolulu about twenty minutes late, around 3:00 pm.
So we spent over two hours getting farther away from Portland. Which meant that by the time we got our bags and hopped on the Park N' Fly shuttle, it was after midnight. Living as we do in south Salem, we didn't get home until close to 2:00 am.
Not fun. Not compared to the non-stop Portland-Maui flights that we and so many others had come to like so much.
The Hawaiian Airlines employee we talked with had the same attitude as I did: "It just isn't right that now a lot more Oregonians are going to be flying on Alaska Airlines to Maui. Getting to Hawaii should be on Hawaiian Airlines."
I agreed. Wholeheartedly.
My wife and I love the service and island-atmosphere on Hawaiian. More than that though, we love not wasting hours of our time making an unnecessary stop in Honolulu -- which is an unattractive, poorly designed airport with horrible eating options for health-minded vegetarians like us.
Hawaiian Airlines likely is about to feel the full impact of disgruntled formerly loyal customers. As mentioned above, we've now used up almost all of our frequent flyer miles. From now on, we'll use Alaska Airlines for our annual vacations on Maui.
Good bye, Hawaiian. We've enjoyed your company for several decades. But your inexplicable decision to drop all direct flights to Maui from Portland is causing us to embrace Alaska. Change your ways, and we'll probably come back into your arms wings.
Not if you continue to make us fly through Honolulu, though.
They flew nonstop Portland *to* Maui as late as spring break this year. But not to Portland *from* Maui. See you on Alaska.
Posted by: Jack Bog | May 17, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Cry me a river for f's sake, you take an annual vacation, and in Hawaii no less. Most of the people I know are still in throes of the recession.
Posted by: Robert Bickers | May 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Robert, I guess none of the people you know were on the completely full flights to and from Honolulu we were on. There's lots of people who enjoy a Hawaiian vacation. It isn't all that expensive, compared to going to Europe or many other places.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 17, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I know there are nonstop flights on Alaska from PDX to Maui, but I can't seem to find any nonstop flights from Maui to PDX. I'm not going until Thanksgiving, so perhaps Alaska's nonstop flight from PDX to Maui is being discontinued at some point as well? Any ideas? Thanks!
Posted by: Maggie | May 23, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Maggie, I just checked on the Alaska Airlines web site and found two non-stop flights from Maui to Portland, Oregon.
Flight 862 leaves Maui at 10:50 am and arrives in Portland at 7:10 pm. Flight 816 leaves Maui and 10:30 pm and arrives in Portland at 6:53 am.
But at first I just checked some days in early April. Looking at late November, I found the same flights -- but not on every day. Maybe you happened to check one of the few days that the flights either are sold out already, or aren't available.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 23, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Hawaiian 767 vs. Alaska 737...I'll take the 767 (even through HNL) EVERYTIME! The problem is I accumulate hundred of thousands of Alaska Miles every year and so I get the 737. Unless one goes 1st Class (not a great points value), better be at least front 1/2 of the 737 or you'll get to duke it out with all the aisle surfers waiting to use the (malodorous) facilities at the back. HNL isn't that bad, certainly not bad enough to create a ridiculous rant because you can't go direct.
Posted by: BadMammaJamma | May 25, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I am a Hawaiian Airlines employee. And to answer your question, the flight was not a revenue generator and was unable to sustain itself. The one time a year you flew to Maui must have been the busy season, because the average seat count over 365 days was 45-70%, which is cause for higher base cost (fuel, salary, airport fees) which are in turn passed on to our guests causing the average one way seat to rise to over $480+ average just to break even. By removing that flight we can offer our guests a Honolulu bound flight which is at 90%+ capacity which will lower the cost to our guest. The inter-island connection is also at a 90% capacity which allows us to continue to pass on lower fares for the entire flight legs.
Unfortunately consumers do not realize the actual cost of operating an airline. While some airlines have foot holds in many markets and can have some markets absorb the cost of others; Hawaii is where we were "born and raised" and plan to stay. We strive to provide all our guests with the most economical and fastest way to our island home. We hope that in the future there will be more interest in Maui from Portland and will continue to explore the possibility of resuming service.
Posted by: Aloha Mai Ka Kou | June 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Thank you, Aloha Mai Ka Kou for offering your feedback.
Author, it would do you well to better understand a business decision you judge based on one trip a year - during high season. What arrogance! Rest assured the organization has weighed your individual inconvenience with the need to operate a sustainable business. Remember, you have options - Alaska Airlines. AND they have a fantastic Visa card for point hoarding.
Posted by: Tara | July 02, 2012 at 09:28 AM
Tara, did you read this post? A Hawaiian Airlines employee who is very familiar with the direct Portland - Maui flights told me that she/he couldn't understand why the nonstop flight was cancelled, since it was almost always full.
Repeat: someone who knows the passenger load told me "I can't understand why Hawaiian did it -- management doesn't tell us employees anything." I believe this person more than Hawaiian Airlines management, since she/he has first hand knowledge of the direct flight -- all through the year, not just when we usually go.
Which isn't high season, by the way. We usually go to Maui after the high winter season, not during spring break, and before summer. Meaning, in late spring, when rates are lowest at Maui condos. Yet even then, the direct flight from Portland to Maui was almost completely full, every time we went.
Sure looks like Hawaiian is just trying to make a few more bucks at the expense of Oregonians. But all they've done is give more business to Alaska Airlines.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 02, 2012 at 09:59 AM
i, too, have just had my maui via honolulu exerience for the first time and have written them and told them about my dissatisfaction with what they have done...their claim that the planes are not full enough is boloney as i go twice a year and both times off-season and the planes are about 3/4 full...if hawaiian would rather lose nearly all their maui bound passengers to Alaska Air, be my guest, i will not fly them again..former 12 year customer....
Posted by: Lawrie | July 28, 2012 at 05:50 PM
What is the average cost of a r/t nonstop flight from pdx to maui? Thanks for the info.
Posted by: Dee | April 04, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Perhaps it was all that frequent airline mileage usage from PDX that made the whole thing unprofitable for them. If no one is actually buying the tickets, why should they continue..Get over it!
Posted by: Steven Jess | July 30, 2014 at 02:40 PM