Cranky on the Web: Honolulu’s Modernization Plan Moves Forward, PSA’s American Eagle Meltdown in Charlotte


Honolulu’s Long-Awaited Airport Modernization
You already saw my post this week about how difficult it is to deal with the airports in Hawai’i, but Icons of Infrastructure asked me to write a bit more about the specifics of the biggest projects that are underway or at least proposed. I looked at the Mauka Concourse, the rental car facility, and the newly-proposed Diamond Head Concourse re-build.

‘American’s response was lacking, to be kind’Charlotte Business Journal (Soft Paywall)
I think this is the first time one of my quotes has been used as the headline for an article. I tweeted frequently this week about American’s weak response after PSA (American Eagle) suffered through an IT meltdown. As I mentioned to this reporter, American should have issued a waiver for all flights in Charlotte (since it couldn’t segment by operating airline or flight number), and it should have put out frequent updates. After all, every PSA traveler is an American Airlines customer, and they deserved better than what they got this week. Then again, I also told the reporter (but it didn’t make the story) that this won’t have a lasting impact on the airline.

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14 comments on “Cranky on the Web: Honolulu’s Modernization Plan Moves Forward, PSA’s American Eagle Meltdown in Charlotte

  1. This is why airlines shouldn’t farm out their flying to the lowest bidder.

    When a passenger buys a ticket (the vast majority who don’t know what a regional codeshare is ) they are expecting to be flown on an American Airlines airplane flown by experienced American Airlines pilots…

    I realize this had nothing to do with the planes or pilots but I think this also holds true for the American Airlines infrastructure which is no doubt more robust than who thei subcontract their flying to

      1. I experienced the joy of the AA/American Eagle meltdown last week. Was flying from BDL to GSP via CLY on Wednesday. Just as I got to BDL for the flight, I got a Google alert that my connecting flight was delayed by 3 hours. In retrospect I guess I am lucky it wasn’t cancelled. American took another 2 hours to notify me via text. It was the only update I got from them.

        I landed in CLT and the monitors just indicated “DELAYED” , I just kept refreshing my phone browser screen with flight tracking. The gate changed about 45 minutes beforehand – luckily only two gates down the same concourse.

        When I finally arrived in GSP on a plane that was 75% empty, myself and the handful of other passengers waited in vain for our luggage. Despite such a long delay, nobody’s bags made the flight. When I went to the obviously frazzled baggage claim clerk, she responded all the luggage was on the next flight an hour out. I had them drop it at my hotel – it was nearing midnight and left the airport .

        The article claims people have short memories. Um, no. This was the first time I had flown American in years…and it will be the last.

        About the only positive was that both planes were practically brand new.

  2. I’m surprised to see the CONRAC being built so close to the terminal. My understanding is that close-in airport parking generally generates more revenue per space than car rentals, which is why airports tend to push rental companies away from prime parking locations (e.g. BWI). It appears that Honolulu is doing the same thing, but rentals are being pushed not that far away, and still within walking distance of the terminal. Are the economics in Hawaii different (more demand for rentals, less demand for parking)? Or will there be pressure later on to convert part of the CONRAC to general parking?

    1. I suspect part of it may be that HNL has looked at the complaints around other airports’ rental car centers and is trying to strike a better balance between the two uses. Several cities that have put in consolidated rental car facilities have taken a lot of criticism over them, particularly Las Vegas, where the facility is three miles from the terminal and you have to take a shuttle bus.

    2. I suspect this may be down to two factors:

      – HNL is on an island. A large portion of the population is located within 15 miles of HNL making taxis/ride share relatively affordable and many may have family/friends drop them off. Also means no-one is driving from out of town/state to HNL.

      – Most traffic is inbound. The only realistic way to get around the island is renting a car, unless you only plan on staying in Waikiki or have a travel package including transport.

    3. Ron – I don’t know the answer to this for sure, but I do believe the proportion of rentals to local parkers is likely higher. Still, HNL is somewhat constrained by space so this had to be the best option. The area between the terminal and the H1 is built out pretty well already so it would require knocking down and rebuilding to be anywhere near. Might as well do it where you don’t need a train or something silly (like they’re doing in Maui). There should be enough room for local parkers once the rental cars vacate existing spots. They’re also building a train that’s going to go to Ala Moana (and eventually beyond). That’s not the airport doing the work, but it will relieve parking needs.

  3. Regarding the HNL expansion….ANA will be operating the A380’s into the airport, where will they park and how many gate spaces will it take up….HNL gates are rather close together and the A380 is much wider than the 757 and other narrow body planes airlines fly into HNL…..could ANA have 2 A380’s on the ground at the same time….

  4. I’ve been flying from the mainland to Honolulu for 50 years. More times than I can count, to see family. While the increase in flights to the neighbor islands has made an HNL stop less necessary, scheduling sometimes still takes me there. While CF is on vacation, I have a few questions I hope he can answer on returning.

    I always avoid the Wiki Wiki Shuttle to the Inter Island Terminal. Mostly because I enjoy the long walk after so many hours on the incoming flight. But also because the shuttle is hot, crowded, and uninviting as it weaves along the terminal rooftops. I have seen no mention of replacing or updating the shuttle in any articles about HNL’s expansion. What is it’s fate?

    Will Hawaiian’s clustering of flights in a new terminal be just long hauls, with inter-island flights still based in the Inter Island (commuter) Terminal?

    Where will customs be positioned, and where will international flights from Asia and Canada arrive?

    Honolulu’s elevated rail transit system is under construction and includes the airport on its route. Where will the rail station be located, and what effect is it expected to have on airport traffic?

    The emphasis on HNL is one thing. But the neighbor island airports are showing their age. And despite the increase in direct flights to the outer islands, check in counters are still tiny and cramped, security checkpoints are overwhelmed and waiting areas are wildly inadequate. Are there plans to expand and improve the state’s other airports?

    1. Benjamin – Happy to answer.

      *I haven’t heard anything about the generally useless wiki wiki shuttle. Presumably with the Diamond Head rebuild, the need will decrease, but until Ewa is gone, it’ll still end up running on that goofy route. I always walk as well.

      *Hawaiian has specifically said, but presumably the Mauka concourse will be primarily used for widebodies going long haul. They’ll still need to use Ewa but they shouldn’t need Central and Diamond Head anymore, in theory. I would expect interisland flying would stay where it is, but there’s no reason it has to. You could see A321neos flying from some of those gates. The hardest part is probably just isolating flights that need agricultural inspections (anything leaving the state)… unless they just make everyone do it.

      *I don’t believe customs is moving from where it is, but I don’t know for sure.

      *The rail station is to be on the other side of the parking garages with walkways to the terminals, so it should be convenient. Considering how bad traffic is, the ability to get to Ala Moana in 16 minutes should, I’d think, move some share off the roads. When it eventually goes to Waikiki (proposed), that’ll help even more.

      *The other airports have some semi-minor work going. Kahului has the new rental car facility which is nice, but that doesn’t solve all its problems. And Kona will have the two check-in areas and checkpoints converted into one area to improve access, but behind security nothing changes. (Ok, so they are building a more permanent customs facility for the Tokyo flights, but that’s it.)

  5. To me AA ignoring issues going on with the commuter/feeder arm is emblematic of the larger, multi-decade trend of ignoring smaller and mid-sized markets in favor of the mega cities and gargantuan hubs (heck, even WN has been heading in this direction). In years past they could get away with it, but now with the rise of the Spirits, Frontiers, and Allegiants of the world they are doing so at their peril. I mean, why go from say ORF to JAX via ATL or CLT when G4 will get you there at literally one third the time and one third the price?

    Anyway, by the time the flag carriers in Europe noticed this pattern, which happened earlier over there, it was too late for some of them.

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