Hawaiian Air customizes passenger experience as it expands services to Asia

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After launching service to Taipei, Hawaiian Airlines is gearing up to expand its reach across Asia next year.

The sights and the sounds at the airport terminals are changing and growing with the carrier.

It’s a familiar sound travelers often hear at the airport.

Now with seven Asia destinations, Hawaiian Airlines is customizing the experience for passengers.

“We recruited and hired Mandarin speaking employees, both crew members and those who greet the guests here at the airport. In addition to that, we’ve hired Cantonese speakers as well, so in total we have about 50 new employees,” Hawaiian Airlines’ Vice President of Product Development Blaine Miyasato said.

The carrier also posts multilingual customer service agents at flights to and from Japan, Korea, and eventually Beijing slated to launch next April.

“Most of them are surprised actually that we speak Chinese. I guess they don’t hear in Hawaii a lot of people who speak Chinese,” customer service agent Sharon Way said.

“When I am speaking Chinese they are really shocked because of the way that I look. I don’t really look Chinese. I look more Hawaiian and native here,” customer service agent Sonny Ah Puck said.

Ah Puck learned to speak Chinese during a church mission and many coworkers grew up speaking the language.

“It is helpful for them to better communicate with them and be able to help them as best as we can,” Ah Puck said.

In years past, hearing announcements in English and Japanese at the airport was pretty common. But now with Visa waivers and a new code share agreement between Hawaiian and Taiwan’s China Air, more travelers from Asia will visit our islands.

“They leave wanting to come back a second, third, or fourth time,” customer service agent Edna Leong said.

“It’s beneficial for our career cause we can translate,” customer service agent Korin Hueng said.

Hawaiian Airlines says they tend to look for bilingual employees during the hiring process.

“It’s indicative of being an international airline while we are focused on Hawaii the reality is we are flying to countries where English is not the first language,” Miyasato said.

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