Q: Last April, while traveling from Phoenix to Maui for our daughter's wedding, my wife and I were delayed on Hawaiian Airlines.
We contacted Hawaiian executives directly by e-mail to ask for compensation. Our first e-mail got no response. Two weeks later, I sent a second. The airline responded, assigning our case to a resolution coordinator. Initially, it went well. We promptly received partial reimbursements for the lost-hotel night, rental-car day and baggage fees.
Hawaiian said that considering the length and timing of the delay, it also would issue $500 travel credits to each of us in five to seven days. It's been more than eight weeks, and we haven't received them.
Increasing our frustration with Hawaiian, we have received no response to multiple e-mails sent to its executives. I'm asking only for the $500 promised by Hawaiian in April.
A: Hawaiian Airlines should have responded to your first request. But, according to you, it looks like it ignored your polite questions several times, which is unacceptable.
You lost an entire day of your trip, thanks to a 12-plus-hour mechanical delay that ultimately forced you to stay overnight in Honolulu. You also had to wait an extra hour for your luggage when you returned to Phoenix.
After being delayed on Hawaiian, the airline promised you each a $500 voucher. It didn't have to. According to its domestic contract of carriage, it will cover your hotel room, meals, local ground transportation and furnish you with one long-distance phone call when you're delayed. Based on what you told me, and my reading of the contract, you're not owed any additional compensation for your delay on Hawaiian.
Yet, a representative promised you and your wife the flight credit. And a promise is a promise.
While it looks as if you reached out to some customer-service executives, I didn't see any evidence that you tried to contact Hawaiian through normal channels. A first step to fixing this should have been a brief, polite message to Hawaiian through its online help form.
You said you had tried the online form but received no answer. After that, you sent an executive carpet bomb — an e-mail addressed to all the executives you could find — to Hawaiian. That can be an effective strategy when normal channels haven't worked, but it's not your first, or even your second option. Try escalating your case to a manager, then to an executive.
I checked with the airline, and it confirms that it sent the vouchers by e-mail within a week. You looked again, including in your spam folder, but it wasn't there. Hawaiian quickly followed up with another e-mail with two $500 vouchers.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at email@example.com.