How I Stopped a 767 from Taking off for Disney Aulani

Interested in how I stopped a 767 from taking off?

Please read on!  This story started back in November of 2014.  I’ll start with a quick question?  Do you like the idea of someone monitoring your flights in anticipation of any problems?

The Hawaii Trip to Disney Aulani

A new client asked me about planning a sweet 16 trip to the Disney Aulani resort in Oahu, Hawaii.  She invited friends and family to the party

United 767

By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

at the resort and already selected flights on United Airlines.  The first flight was from Newark to San Francisco; while the second flight was from San Francisco to Honolulu.  From there, I arranged for multiple car rentals to take them to the resort.

This trip involved an immense amount of planning for all parties.  The mother of the guest of honor extensively planned out details of an onsite party with wonderful Disney accoutrement.  I advised my travel guests on the various types of accommodations both at the Disney Aulani resort and the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas onsite.

The flight situation in Newark

Everyone arrived bright and early at Newark International airport anticipating a long travel day!  It’s a long road to Hawaii from the East Coast of the US!  The pilot noticed an issue with the brakes and had to pull back to the gate.  Eventually, everyone had to leave the plane and wait for hours.  My crew of 21 anxious travelers re-boarded the plane and then were further delayed by paperwork as the pilot had to sign-off on the repairs. Then the plane was refueled.  At last they were off – bound for San Francisco and then Hawaii by night.

I use flight aware to track my clients’ flights.  I carefully watched their estimated landing time in San Francisco (SFO) and the next flight’s take-off time.  Do you know when you get that sinking feeling that things are not going to work out?

Anticipating the race to get to San Francisco (SFO) for the next flight

As I watched flight aware to track both flights, I was losing confidence that my 21 people could make the next flight. I called both Untied Vacations and United Air Lines looking for help!  Not knowing what to do after speaking with a United Vacations Rep. I called United Airlines directly and asked if it was possible to delay the take-off of the next flight.  A representative at United said he’d call SFO airport management.  The rep, came back and said they could hold the flight for 30 minutes.  Adding that on to the already slight delay for the next flight to Hawaii was just enough time for my clients to board the next flight.  I felt like a rock star super hero as one of my people let me know that they made it on the next flight! My clients were keeping in touch with me via cell phones, emails and Facebook. Hooray, look at what I’ve accomplished!!! But my celebration was premature.

The flight situation in San Francisco

Boeing 767 Interior - LAN Airways

B767 By FcoRiveros2000 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone made it on board hoping their luggage was with them too!  This plane was a Boeing 767 loaded with lots of personal entertainment gear and a lot more fun technology than the plane for the flight across the US. Bear in mind that no one had really had a meal since very early in the day.  My main contact let me know that they had to go back to the gate due to another strange sound (second time in one day for this group).  After arriving back at the gate the pilot thought they could take off again – maybe.  Some passengers onboard became irate and there was some degree of screaming and crying. Finally, all passenger had to leave the plane and wait at the gate hoping they could once again be en-route to Hawaii that night.

What to do after the flight is cancelled

It was just past 6:30 pm California time when my buddy called me from the gate to tell me the flight was cancelled.  The on-line flight tracker showed the flight as over the Pacific Ocean from the first time it pushed back from the gate. Now what?  There was a 767 full of passengers angry that they were not going to Hawaii and many of them not making it to the Disney Aulani Resort for their first night in Paradise!

My clients were commanded to wait in line to rebook their flights/pick-up meal vouchers/receive hotel and transfer accommodations.  I had already looked at other airlines with flights out that night but it was getting later and United Airlines had re-booked all of my guests for a flight early the next morning.

TIP: if an airline cancels your flight, you have the right to demand that they put you on another carrier’s flights. They are NOT going to tell you this and it may not work but I want you to know you can always ask…Or ASK me!

AND, the luggage never made it on to the original plane from SFO to Hawaii.  Again, all of the flights were re-booked for the next morning on the same flight.  I started pulling up everyone’s United reservations and reviewing their seat assignments to share with the group.

The line for hotels lasted for hours with only 4 reps. to take care of all of the logistics for the night.  Some of my clients elected to sleep in the United Terminal to avoid the stress of catching to shuttles and checking into a hotel at who knows what time!

The next day

Disney Aulani Resort

Photo courtesy of Michelle Kraft Cook

The flight from SFO to Honolulu went off early the next morning with little delays transporting my guests to beautiful Hawaii. The Disney Aulani resort was waiting for them.

While the car rentals were supposed to have been on hold for 24 hours after the first flight was supposed to land, at least one of my clients had issues picking up their car.

To top it off, a client could not find his license after landing in Honolulu.  With no license, I advised him to switch over the car rental to his wife, BUT how was he supposed to board the flight home?  Turns out that that is a story in and of itself.  (He actually found his license but after much effort I can tell you how to board a plane IF you lose your ID.)  The DMV assured me that there was no way they could get a replacement license to Hawaii in time for his return trip home.

FINALLY, all of my clients eventually got to Aulani and their rooms were waiting for them!

Trip Insurance as a remedy

Now that everyone has returned from Hawaii, I still have 21 clients who lost their first night at Disney Aulani Resort and also multiple car rentals which lost one night of use.  As everyone had trip protection insurance, I initiated claims for their trips after they returned home.  Now, they all need is proof from United Airlines that the flight was cancelled in order to file their claims…I’m waiting for that to come in.

Hear comments from my clients before they left Hawaii:

Happy Travelers at Disney Aulani Resort