Some ATA Passengers Come Home - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Some ATA Passengers Come Home

Dennis Phillips Dennis Phillips
Desmond Ramelb Desmond Ramelb
Rose De Aquino Rose De Aquino

By Leland Kim

KALIHI VALLEY (KHNL) --  Some ATA passengers come home Saturday, after being stranded on the mainland for a few extra days.

The news caught many off guard. ATA was one of three airlines that went belly up this week.  With no notice whatsoever, passengers had to fend for themselves, and find ways to get home.

The Phillips family flew in early Saturday morning, thanks to extra flights scheduled by Hawaiian Airlines.  They are grateful to be home, and say they learned a valuable lesson from this ordeal.

The Phillips family is finally back home in Kalihi.  They were stranded in Las Vegas for two days after ATA abruptly declared bankruptcy and shut down operations.

"It's sort of a mix of emotions," said Dennis Phillips, a displaced ATA passenger. "There's still a bit of frustration with the whole situation, and we're almost two grand in the hole having to buy new tickets.  But we're also very happy to be home, and we feel very lucky because we know there are a lot of people that are probably still stranded all over the country."

"That was a pretty bad thing that happened and it was kind of irritating but then my parents got to it," said 16-year-old Desmond Ramelb.

No one at ATA was available to help stranded passengers.

"We were scrambling to find tickets to get home," said Phillips.  "We were calling Hawaiian on the telephone, calling other airlines on the telephone."

They flew to San Francisco, to catch a connecting flight to Honolulu, but that flight was delayed.

"I could feel my palms starting to sweat, when they said it was going to be delayed for another 30 minutes," said Rose De Aquino, Phillips' fiancée.  "And I'm wondering is this going to be another delay where they tell us that it's going to be an hour wait, then it's going to be three hours which is what happened last time."

The Hawaiian Airlines flight made it home to Honolulu at two this morning.

"I felt really ecstatic," said De Aquino.  "There were people clapping on board, saying, ‘We're home!  We're home!'  So it was euphoric. It felt like surreal when we're sitting here."

But now, reality is starting to sink in.  Three airlines going bankrupt in just a week.

"And I think, you keep hearing recession, recession," said Phillips. "I think that's, if it's not already a reality, it's going to start becoming one."

And the Phillips family has learned a valuable lesson.

"We're definitely be booking with Hawaiian whenever possible," said Phillips.  "We're very grateful to them and if Hawaiian doesn't service the area, we'll book with another major airline."

The family spent $3,100 for airfare, about $2,000 just for the flight back home. They bought their ATA tickets with a credit card, so they've filed a claim and are looking into ATA Chapter 11 proceedings.

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