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Larry Ellison’s Island Air proves no match for Hawaiian Airlines

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Goes to show you what happens when you switch airlines. For years Richard and I would only fly Hawaiian Airlines, we belong to its loyalty program and we really like the inflight service and schedule from the mainland to the islands and interisland.

Alas on a recent trip on which we cruised to Hawaii aboard Celebrity Millennium which only required one over ocean flight to Los Angeles, but two interisland connections, we decided to try Island Air. After all local billionaire and Oracle founder Larry Ellison owns the company which he started in February 2013. Perhaps its young age should be factored into it, but our first flight on Ellison’s 64-seat ATR-72 turboprop aircraft was a bust.

After we disembarked the Millennium we went to Honolulu Airport to board our 10:50 a.m. flight to Maui on Island Air. We sat at the gate, sat at the gate and sat at the gate with no word about when the flight, which was obviously delayed, would depart. Of course we checked with the grounds people who looked at us blankly, shook their heads and had no clue when our plane would take off. All they knew is that it wasn’t in yet.

After two hours a plane arrived at our gate, it was actually a later flight scheduled to take off and somehow, and don’t ask me how, they let us board it. We arrived in Maui early four hours later than scheduled which created a snowball effect since two jumbo jets had landed from Japan and seems like every passenger had rented a car from Thrifty/Dollar like we did and because of that there was a endless line in which we waited again for more than two hours. It wasn’t a fun travel day.

We had another flight back from Maui scheduled in two weeks to catch our flight from Honolulu. I tried to cancel it and wouldn’t have minded the $20 a ticket they wanted to do so, but there were no flights available on Hawaiian to get us to our Delta flight in time. Yes, we also decided to give Delta a try and were happy with the First Class service, ecstatic actually. There wasn’t that Aloha spirit that permeates Hawaiian’s planes but the flight attendants were great, the food was better than expected and those new seats that slide forward and go flat are so comfortable.

It’s doubtable whether we’ll try Island Air again not just because the flights both took off late, but because of how the ground crew handled it with no announcements and a real stand offish attitude. And Larry doesn’t need our business anyway, he’s not only loaded but he owns Lanai and its two luxury hotels that are managed by Four Seasons. (Watch the video).

FYI: this is not to say that Hawaiian is never delayed, but it does have one of the best on-time records in the industry and after dozens of flights on the carrier it never left in our experiences. And the staff who works around the gate has alot more Aloha going for it.

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