As the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly derails vacations, weddings, honeymoons, family reunions and other Hawai‘i travel, our Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana has come together to support tens of thousands of guests with their reservations.
In response to a rapid and unprecedented influx of inquiries, our IT, customer contacts, project management and facilities teams worked around the clock to set up a supplemental contact center at our Honolulu headquarters on March 20.
In the past several weeks, over 160 employees from across the company – from airport operations and procurement to network planning and executive leadership – have picked up the phone or reached out on social care to more promptly assist guests. Volunteers have logged an average of 1,730 hours each week answering inquires, messaging guests via text and our mobile app, replying to emails and assisting with back-office processes.
“It was great to be able to help out on the phones,” Avi Mannis, senior vice president of marketing at Hawaiian Airlines, said after a recent shift. “A lot of what’s going on right now feels out of our control and we’re spending a lot of time reacting to things that we couldn’t anticipate even a month ago, so there’s something really satisfying – and almost comforting – about assisting with someone’s reservation.”
Kanani Kealoha-Faleafine stepped away from her day job as Hawaiian’s manager of loyalty services to train our volunteer force. As a former reservations manager for over four years, Kealoha-Faleafine had supported our contact centers based in the Philippines – where work has also been disrupted due to government-issued orders – and understood the ins-and-outs of our systems.
“Even though we’re in uncharted territory, it’s calming to know that employees can still support the company but in our own unique way,” she said. “My team is teaching new tools to people who have never used our reservation management systems before, so we had to develop a training process where newcomers could feel comfortable and supported before starting to answer calls.”
“Kealoha-Falaefine views the contact center as an inspiring example of our employees’ shared commitment to serve guests with hospitality during a stressful time.
“We were all touched by our guests' stories, such as someone who was supposed to come to Hawai‘i for their wedding or making a trip to visit their grandkids and reassuring them that we’ll be here for when they’re ready to come,” she said. Call volumes are still extremely high, but thanks to the help we’ve received from our ‘ohana, we are working through it and seeing progress each day.
Moving Forward and Improving
Despite being able to significantly lower contact wait times, an enormous backlog of guest requests remains. We are continuing to invest in capabilities to better manage the volume of requests. For example, our IT teams have launched enhancements to our website and mobile app to allow guests to make changes to their travel, and we continue to identify and implement improvements. We’re also working to increase capacity in other contact channels like text messaging, chat and social care, which were temporarily overwhelmed by the influx.
“We know we’ve let our guests down when they needed us the most,” Mannis added. “But it has been heartening to see people from across our company working side-by-side to make this right and support our guests in a trying time.”
Resources available to you
We’re here to help, and guests with upcoming travel impacted by COVID-19 developments have options, including:
Call, email or message us
Our contact center is available 24 hours, seven days a week to assist with travel questions and concerns. Guests may also reach us by text and chat (via our website and mobile app).
Guests in our international network should dial their country phone number when trying to contact us (hours of operation may vary). For more information, click here.
Request to change or cancel your ticket online
Our guests can request to change or cancel their reservation online. For more details on how, click here.
Find the answer to your questions or review our latest travel waivers, available here.
The COVID-19 situation is constantly changing, and we encourage our guests to visit our website frequently to stay informed about our latest schedule changes and travel waivers.