Twenty passengers stuck at the small Lihue airport on Hawaii‘s island of Kauai late last week after flights were canceled because of storms battering the area were kicked out into the elements at midnight by a security guard who said the airport was shutting down as usual.
Some Passengers Bed Down in Crowded Shelter
Most of these tourists – which included a pregnant woman, a disabled man and elderly visitors – had no place to go, either because hotels were filled up or impossible to reach due to roads blocked by raging rains.
A 71-year-old tourist who was visiting Hawaii to celebrate he and his wife’s 50th wedding anniversary were eventually driven to a crowded shelter by a local firefighter where they slept on cement floors and were glad to do so, considering the alternative.
State Officials Apologize
He eventually received a “heartfelt” call of apology from Hawaii’s Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. Various Hawaiian tourism agencies are also trying to contact these passengers to deliver more “we’re sorry” missives, but so far there are no reports of anyone offering anything more tangible.
What Passengers Can Do
Anyone caught in a similar situation – being ordered out of an airport or other facility during extreme weather or other poor circumstances – are advised to ask to speak with the supervisor of the person issuing the orders (and be sure to get the name and any contact information of this person). Finding cheap flights to Hawaii is one thing – getting stuck in an airport there is another.
Also, it’s always a good idea to keep a list of top chain hotels in a smartphone wherever/whenever traveling. Many hotels will pick you up at the airport for free or at a nominal cost.