By Beth Hillyer
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- With thousands of stranded ATA passengers still in the islands the Hawaii Tourism Authority is coordinating goodwill missions to get them home.
With island music to serenade them, passengers wait to board a chartered flight to San Francisco. They paid $200 for their one-way tickets. That compares to fares as high as $1,300.
"Just the whole hassle of trying to find airline tickets, the ones were $750 a ticket one-way ticket, outrageous," stated passenger Amy Vandermaas.
The two chartered Hawaiian Airlines flights called Kokua Flights are sold out. Executives with the Tourism Authority are subsidizing the cost by using money from the tourism emergency fund. They defend using tax dollars to bail out the stranded visitors.
"If visitors come here and don't have a great experience, and obviously some aren't having a great experience trying to get back to their homes, that hurts the whole image of Hawaii," added HTA president Rex Johnson.
Lawmakers agree the state needed to step up to save it's reputation.
"We want them to know Hawaii cares about them, that when they come to visit us it's not just sun, surf and beach, we care about people here and those who come here as our guests," said Rep. Ryan Yamane.
And those with tickets are thankful.