Pleasant Holidays offers re-bookings
While many Aloha Airlines travelers will be unable to recoup lost travel expenses in the wake of Monday's shutdown, those who purchased tickets through Hawaii's largest wholesaler, Pleasant Holidays, will get some financial assistance.
Many tales of woe have circulated between members of the visitor industry and travelers since the Airline Reporting Corp., the clearinghouse for all outside Aloha Airlines ticket sales, announced that it will not issue refunds for cash or check transactions made between March 24 and 30.
"We can't issue refunds that we can't collect from the debtor," said Allan Muten, a spokesman for ARC, which handles ticketing and settlement for 170 carriers.
But in an unprecedented move yesterday, Pleasant Holidays decided that it will credit its customers the value of their Aloha Airlines tickets toward a new flight to Hawaii from the mainland. The company expects thousands of travelers to accept the offer, said Jack Richards, Pleasant Holidays president and CEO.
"At the end of the day, it's going to have negative financial impact for us," Richards said. "We've paid the ARC and the ARC has paid Aloha, and Aloha's not going to give the money back."
While travel agents and wholesalers across the country have referred customers to their credit card companies or told them to file a bankruptcy court claim against Aloha, Pleasant Holidays decided to stand by its customers even if it meant taking a loss.
"We decided to be proactive and put this issue behind us," Richards said. "The integrity of our brands is very important to us, our owners, suppliers and customers."
The company will not be the only one taking a hit for Aloha. Travelers who used cash or a check to purchase Aloha Airline tickets with other companies are not likely to obtain compensation for their now useless tickets. ARC's decision has also left travel agents and providers vulnerable to the possibility that their corporate clients will stop checks or refuse to pay them.
And although Hawaii hoteliers and other members of the visitor industry have already incurred costs by discounting rooms and waiving fees, they say the real losses could come in the future.
"The industry is kind of in a wait-and-see mode," said Shari Chang, senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management for ResortQuest Hawaii. "There are concerns that some of these travelers might decide to cancel their vacations if coming to Hawaii means that they have to pay for more tickets."
Aloha's bankruptcy also has hurt travel agents and other travel providers, said Wendy Goodenow, immediate past president of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents.
"I don't feel very good about telling people that they still have to pay me for the ticket, but I issued it in good faith and I have already paid ARC," said Goodenow, who owns Honolulu Travel Associates.
Muten said that while ARC has seen credit card payments go up in recent years because they afford consumers an additional layer of protection, some clients favor checks because of their accounting needs, he said.
Muten declined to release the tally of transactions affected by Aloha's closure but said ARC has had quite a few calls from concerned clients.
"Aloha was a fairly significant carrier in the Hawaii market," Muten said. "I've heard about lots of hardships. One Florida travel agent was in a very bad situation because a customer had written a check for thousands of dollars and was threatening to stop payment."
Pleasant refund program
» Pleasant Holidays will credit the value of the Aloha Airlines ticket purchased through Pleasant Holidays toward a new flight. Customers are responsible for any increase in airfare.
» Change/cancel fees apply unless the Pleasant Holidays Protection Plans were purchased. The use of the one-time waiver is required for all changes.
» Customers unable to be accommodated on alternative flights will be given a credit toward a future Pleasant Holidays vacation package through Dec. 20.
» Customers initiating a credit card chargeback could prevent Pleasant Holidays from making flight reservations on other airlines.
» Pleasant Holidays will process Aloha Airlines ticket reservation changes in departure date order, beginning with April flights.
» Hot line: (800) 627-1755 (6 a.m. 10 p.m. PST Monday-Friday)