Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Interisle terminal still
lacks enough parking

Question: I have to travel to the neighbor islands three or four times a month, during the weekdays, and have been doing so since February. Even if I arrive at the interisland parking garage at Honolulu Airport at 6 a.m., it's practically filled. I was told if you went around 8 a.m., it's impossible to find any parking space there. It's really a problem for travelers. I don't know what I'm going to do if I have to travel later in the day and can't find parking. I can't believe it's only travelers parking in that six-story garage. What are we to do if we can't find parking?

With parking limited at Honolulu Airport, people are encouraged to arrive early enough to hunt for a space.

Answer: We had a similar complaint about the lack of parking in the interisland terminal area a year ago (Kokua Line, July 5, 2004), citing the fact that many spaces appeared to be taken by airline and airport employees.

Back then, state airport officials said they could not prevent employees from parking in the interisland area, because they were paying the going public rates. However, they also said they were looking at ways to address the problem, including increasing the number of public parking stalls at the terminals.

A year later, "We are still grappling with the long-term solutions to the airport parking situation," said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

The recent hiring of a consultant to redo the airport master plan is the first step in addressing the issue of parking facilities, he said.

"Building up" the open parking area between the overseas and interisland terminals has been discussed and will be addressed in the revised master plan, he said.

Ishikawa noted Honolulu Airport has 4,522 parking stalls: 1,787 spaces in the interisland parking structure, 2,076 in the overseas terminal, 424 in the commuter lot, and 235 in the open-air parking lot near the international terminal.

The interisland structure tends to fill up most quickly, particularly during three-day holiday weekends, he said. Many drivers also are taking advantage of the continued free 30-minute parking, instituted in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to drop off or pick up travelers.

Ishikawa's advice is for people to allow enough time to find parking "and/or expect to walk a little further than normal."

During long holiday weekends, airport users are advised to park in the overseas and open-air parking areas, "rather than drive around the interisland parking (garage)."

Q: What sort of compensation is a traveler legally entitled to if an airline flight is delayed two, four or 24 hours because of technical problems?

A: There is no federal requirement that airlines must compensate passengers for flight delays, whether from bad weather, security concerns or technical problems.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division, the law only requires compensation if a passenger is involuntarily "bumped" from a flight because of overbooking, although not in all cases.

For example, if you are involuntarily bumped from a flight, an airline is not required to compensate you if it finds alternative transportation that gets you to your destination within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival.

If you are involuntarily bumped, the airline is required to give you a written explanation of your rights and possible compensation.

But as for delayed flights, "Airlines almost always refuse to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight," according to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Its advice: "If the purpose of your trip is to close a potentially lucrative business deal, to give a speech or lecture, to attend a family function, or to be present at any time-sensitive event, you might want to allow a little extra time and take an earlier flight. In other words, airline delays and cancellations are not unusual, and defensive planning is a good idea when time is your most important consideration."

The Aviation Consumer Protection Division advises travelers to check an airline's customer service plan before booking, because each airline has its own policy on how it deals with flight delays. Some may not offer anything to stranded passengers. You're also advised to at least ask an airline if it will pay for meals or phone calls.

You can also find out about the various on-time performances of major airlines at airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/reports/index.htm or www.bts.gov/programs/airline_information/.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
E-mail to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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