Hello? Hello? HELLO??

What’s going on in the airline industry? I keep getting a lot of grumbling from people who fly frequently.  

I’m definitely not a frequent flyer. Of course, living in Hawaii means an airplane is necessary for me to reach the mainland United States. Or any land anywhere else. But, barring an emergency of some kind, I fly Hawaiian Airlines to one of several West Coast cities and take Amtrak from that point on.  

But I hear from friends that the airlines are doing some strange things, none of which could possibly be considered pro-passenger.

The latest offender is Frontier Airlines. Already with a reputation for poor service, they have quietly stopped dealing with their customers by phone. If you have a question about a flight you’re going to be taking next week, you must go to the Frontier website and find the answer for yourself. Forget about getting any help by phone—there’s nobody home! 

And the frustrating thing is, their PR people are saying that they have made this move to better serve the traveling public. Their rationale: these days, everyone gets all necessary information from the internet.

Oh, sure . . . we’re to believe that Frontier passengers are 100-percent in favor of a move that will make it more difficult for them to get current information about their flights.

And, as much as it pains me to do so, our own Hawaiian Airlines—no longer locally owned—has started doing some very un-Hawaiian things. For example, I recently booked a one-way return next March from Seattle back home to Maui. The one-way economy fare was $499, which is almost double what we’re accustomed to paying. And if I want an “extra comfort” seat, those extra three inches of leg room will cost me another $80 to $120.  Care to check a bag? Ca-ching! That’ll be another $30, please. 

But guess what a seat in First Class on that six-hour flight from Seattle will cost you—thirty-seven hundred bucks! That computes to $10 per minute, from take-off to landing.

Message to Hawaiian Airlines: If you must, go ahead and whack the wealthy visitor coming over to spend six weeks in his condo. But sticking it to us local residents who have been loyal to Hawaiian Airlines for many decades? Well, that’s really pilau, bruddah!