Tag Archives: Hawaiian Airlones

Ethics Dunce: Hawaiian Airlines

I find this story hard to believe, and yet it is consistent with the disturbing trend of people and businesses taking unfair advantage of captive audiences and markets—what I recently termed the “The Hamilton Effect.” The attitude is, “we have you, you’re trapped, and you have no choice but to accept what we give you.” It is a breach of respect, fairness, autonomy, and the Golden Rule.

Before I saw this story today—it is a few says old, but I missed it–I was going to write about a more mundane example I encountered at the airport in Sacramento. I was getting on a long flight and an early one, so I bought more items than usual at an airport news store: a large bottle of water, a granola bar, orange juice, some yogurt, two newspapers and a magazine. After I paid, I asked for a bag, as I always do, and was told that it would cost 25 cents. I never heard of such a thing. I literally had more than I could carry without a bag, and told the clerk that if they were going to change the rules, I should have advance notice. There was no real option, however, unless I wanted to be thirsty and hungry on the airplane for a couple of hours, as well as bored with nothing to read.

All of the airport is like that, of course. Commentators as diverse as Jerry Seinfeld and Ralph Nader complain about it: you are suddenly in some alternate universe where everything costs twice as much. I bought a large size bag of M&Ms in Chicago that cost over seven dollars. “We have you, you’re trapped, and you have no choice…”

A 66-year-old man on a Hawaiian Airlines flight that had just left the West Coast for Honolulu found the cabin temperature chilly, and requested a blanket. He was incredulous when he was informed that there would be a $12 charge. I wouldn’t buy a typical airplane blanket for that, and this was a rental! It’s gouging, plain and simple, and the passenger said so. He then demanded to talk to an airline official, and was given the corporate phone number. During his irate conversation, the man told the company representative, “I’d  like to take someone behind the woodshed for this.”  That’s an old, barely used term for reprimanding or punishing someone, but it apparently frightened a culturally ignorant flight attendant, who informed the pilot that a passenger was threatening the staff.Naturally, the only thing to do was to dump excess fuel in the Pacific, turn the flight around, and go back to LAX. This cost about $12,000, and delayed the flight for nearly four hours.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, U.S. Society