Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Certain flights booked
up by Japanese wholesalers

Question: I have been trying since August to purchase three tickets on Japan Airlines for my daughter and two grandchildren to travel from Kansai to Honolulu for Christmas and New Year's. I was told by my first travel agent that no seats were available and that they would be wait-listed. They said they would contact me when the seats were confirmed. I never heard back, so I went to another agency, where I was told the same thing. Finally, I called JAL itself and was told the airline was booked solid. I don't understand this. I keep hearing about cancellations and how there aren't enough people flying. What's going on?

Answer: You shouldn't have problems getting confirmed reservations -- eventually.

During certain periods of the year -- "Golden Week" in late April/early May, the month of August, just before the Honolulu Marathon and during end-of-the-year holidays -- Japanese wholesalers "book by the thousands," blocking off flights in anticipation of selling them, explained Gilbert Kimura, JAL's regional sales manager. "Every year, it's the same thing."

Even this year. But since Sept. 11, those in the travel industry are crossing their fingers that the bookings won't drop too drastically.

Meanwhile, independent travelers who want to fly at those times are told to book through their travel agents, where they will be wait-listed. But "it's not that (flights) are closed," Kimura said.

As it gets closer to the booking dates, wholesalers will get an idea of how many people may actually travel and begin releasing seats. Right now, figures are running about 50 percent of last year.

"As soon as (the flights) open up, and I'm sure this year they will open up," you will receive confirmation as soon as possible, Kimura said.

He says to not give up. "We really want the business and Hawaii needs the business," he said.

Q: A small package that I mailed "priority mail" at the airport post office on Sept. 24 took over two weeks to deliver. It usually only takes about three days. Was this an isolated incident or is there a general backlog or unusual problem affecting Hawaii's outgoing mail?

A: Two weeks is not the norm, even during this period of continued disruption in mail service, according to U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Felice Broglio.

Where it used to take three days for a priority mail delivery, since Sept. 11, it still is taking three to five days, she said. She could not speculate what happened in your case, but said "two weeks is much too long."

It helped that last Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration eased restrictions for express mail, registered mail, international mail and live shipments. Those deliveries can once again be carried on passenger flights, Broglio said.

The bad news is that the restriction still is on for priority mail, which is mail 16 ounces and heavier. That mail still must be sent on dedicated cargo flights, Broglio said. However, because priority mail is the "largest customer base," officials are working to get delivery back on track, she said.

"We realize we're not up to the delivery service customers had before Sept. 11, and we're working to give them back that service," she said.


To the employees of Ala Wai Texaco fuel dock, who found my wallet, with a large amount of money in it. They called me and returned the wallet with everything intact. -- Matt Buckman

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