Travelers visiting neighbor islands on itineraries featuring separately booked tickets with Hawaiian Airlines may now need to claim and recheck their own baggage between connecting flights.
Beginning June 1, Hawaiian implemented a procedural change ending its courtesy transfers of luggage to or from other airlines if connecting service was booked separately from an interisland flight.
Affected customers will have to track down their luggage at the baggage claim and in some cases run it through agriculture screening, then recheck their luggage with the next airline, pay any applicable baggage fees and head through security again.
Although Hawaiian’s procedural change took effect officially on June 1, the airline is still making some courtesy luggage transfers for clients traveling on separately booked tickets.
“We’re just going to continue to help our customers on a case-by-case basis,” said Keoni Wagner, a Hawaiian spokesman. “If people show up with connecting tickets for separate flights and we think there is insufficient time for them to collect their bags and recheck them, then we will go ahead and through-check them as a courtesy for a period of time until we think our customers are up to speed on the change.”
Asked how long that grace period would last, Wagner declined to offer exact dates.
“For the near term,” he said. “Not for an indefinite period.”
First announced in late January, Hawaiian intended for the policy change to begin May 1 but said it delayed implementation one month because of feedback from customers. The airline maintains that a U.S. Department of Transportation rule change, which takes effect in July and outlines significant fines for bags through-checked incorrectly on separate tickets, spurred the modification to its luggage practices.
Hawaiian also insists that the new policy will not affect most of its customers.
“The vast majority of connections we serve and the vast majority of baggage transfers that we make are for single-ticket itineraries,” Wagner said. “And that goes for the vast majority of travelers, so this really applies to a very small number of people.”
For Rob Stern, founder of Virginia-based RobPlansYourTrip.com, Hawaiian’s new baggage policy will require spending more time on the many separate-ticket vacations he arranges to the Aloha State each year.
“We all have clients who book trips in stages,” Stern said. “And you’re not always building a trip in one fell swoop. You may have somebody who flies into Honolulu and then decides ‘You know what, it’s going to work better for us to go to Maui right after we arrive.’ And then you have a separate ticket.”
Stern said concerns about missed flights, older travelers having difficulty with heavy luggage, the added cost of paying baggage fees twice and clients starting and ending their vacation with an unpleasant airport experience already have him considering ways to avoid flights requiring a connection with Hawaiian’s interisland service, including taking advantage of nonstop routes offered by carriers like United or Delta from the U.S. mainland directly to Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.
“Hawaiian’s service is ranked among the best of all the airlines when it comes to courtesy, the food they provide, the on-time arrivals,” Stern said. “So that’s why this kind of thing is such a surprise because they’ve got a great reputation for doing everything else so well.”
For more info about Hawaiian’s baggage policy, visit www.hawaiianair.com/help/pages/interline-baggage-statement.aspx.