From Here to There? It’s a Tough Trip for Some Airline Passengers
Hundreds of travelers, encouraged by news that the United Airline’s pilots’ strike has been settled, have jammed Los Angeles International Airport for the last four days hoping to find seats to Hawaii and other destinations without reservations.
The Hawaii route was most severely affected, because United dominates it. The airline normally operates 10 flights daily between Los Angeles and the islands. However, the strike cut the schedule to one a day. A second flight was added only on Thursday.
Alan Wayne, United’s regional public affairs director, estimated Thursday that as many as 500 people were waiting on stand-by for seats to Hawaii on such carriers as United, Western Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, World Airways, Pan American World Airways, Northwest Orient Airlines and Hawaiian Air. A small number of passengers also are waiting in San Francisco, he said.
At midday, Western had a waiting list of more than 200 people for seats on its four daily flights to Hawaii, customer service representative George Lewis said.
Word of Mouth
The passenger logjam, which was beginning to break up by evening, had been worsened by word-of-mouth reports from United employees in other cities, travel agents and other travelers that stand-by seats were available, Wayne said.
“We’re trying to do our best” to get the stranded passengers to their destinations, gradually adding flights to United’s drastically reduced schedule, Wayne said. United has warned its employees in other cities not to send passengers to Los Angeles who do not have confirmed seats to Hawaii, he added.
American spokesman Al Becker said the air carriers are not able to add flights quickly to handle the demand, because “we are limited by the availability of airplanes and crews.”
To accommodate some of the stand-by passengers, United ran a special, one-time flight out of Los Angeles International Thursday night that carried 254 people.
The airline will be back to full strength by July 1, he said.
Among those caught at Los Angeles International on Thursday were Kelsey Maddox-Bell and his family, who were returning to their Kauai, Hawaii, home from a vacation in Denver. Although assured by United employees in Denver that they would be able to get a flight home from Los Angeles, even without confirmed seats, they got an unexpected three-day layover here when the seats did not materialize.
Maddox-Bell and his family were Hawaii-bound by Thursday night. However, others were not so lucky. Visiting from Egypt, Maha Shawka and her husband, Mahmoud Monrossy, and daughter, Mainlea, were to have spent the last week of a monthlong vacation in Hawaii. While their luggage caught a flight to Honolulu by way of San Francisco, Maha Shawka and her family waited for hours Thursday at Los Angeles International after taking an early morning flight from San Diego, where they were visiting family members.
“We had plans to go to this famous Honolulu,” Maha Shawka said. “We can’t do anything. Now we’re trying to get a flight back to San Diego.”