Hawaiian Airlines apologizes for confusion over reality star’s ticket

Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is apologizing after a reality star claimed she was booted from a flight.

Kandi Burruss, who stars on the Bravo show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and was a member of the ’90s R&B group Xscape, took to social media to vent her frustration:

“#HawaiianAirlines just kicked us off for no reason. This was so crazy & random! We were sitting in our seat & the gate ticketer came on & asked to see my ticket because it wasn’t showing up in their system. I gave him my ticket but it had our baggage claim checks on the back. He never brought it back & the plane started rolling off. I asked the flight attendant where was my ticket & told him I needed the baggage claim ticket just in case my bags didn’t make the flight. The flight attendant left & came back & said the pilot was calling to check & then the next thing I know this lady comes on the plane & said she needed Todd & I to get off the plane because we caused some sort of commotion…”

Burruss’ video quickly went viral.

Hawaiian Airlines issued the following statement Friday:

During the boarding process for Flight 526 yesterday, we encountered a computer issue with tickets for Ms. Kandi Burruss and her husband, who had already boarded the aircraft. To remedy the situation, our employees asked to see their boarding passes while the guests remained onboard. Once resolved, the flight was ready for an on-time departure and the aircraft pushed back from the gate at 4:26 p.m. We failed to return these boarding passes to our customers, whose baggage claim tickets were attached to the back of these passes, and we sincerely apologize for the confusion and undue anxiety that this caused.

According to reports from our crew, our flight attendants attempted to reassure the travelers that their luggage would be ready for pickup when they arrived on Maui. However, the travelers became increasingly irate and at least one member of the Burruss’ traveling party requested that the plane return to the gate. For the safety and comfort of all travelers onboard, the captain elected to return to the gate and allow the Burruss party to deplane and work with our agents to resolve their concerns. HA 526 took off at 5:15 after a 45-minute delay. Ms. Burruss, her husband and two members of their traveling party were accommodated on the next flight, which departed from Honolulu at 6:00 p.m.

Social media consultant Melissa Chang says there are many forms of social media available, and it’s important for companies to build a following and stay alert.

“Social media is always changing. At first it was Twitter, then Twitter and Facebook, and now you have Instagram and Snapchat, Instagram stories, so there’s a lot more mediums that you have to deal with,” she explained.

Chang says more consumers are using the power of the Internet to get their voices heard.

“They’re venting. they think that they’re just saying it to the universe like a primal scream kind of thing, and they don’t realize the kind of impact that they have,” Chang said.

She says many times companies are forced to address an issue when a complaint is posted online.

“There’s people who make assumptions through social media. They think, ‘Oh, it’s on the Internet, it must be true,” Chang said.

The power of social media is also a good tool for companies that have it, and can have lasting effects for those who don’t, she says.

“Sometimes when you get to the bottom of things, it’s not always the company’s fault, and you try to bring the other side to light,” Chang said, but “there’s been situations where things have negatively affected them on social media, and because they had no presence, they couldn’t come to their own defense.”

Chang recommends companies address the issue quickly, don’t argue with a consumer, and try to remedy the situation if possible.

“If your company has a good social media presence and they’ve built a community, your community will come to your aid,” she said.

Chang still recommends people go the more traditional route of reaching out to companies via phone or email.

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