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Storm scrambles tourists' vacations

By Allison Schaefers

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:13 a.m. HST, Oct 30, 2012

KAT WADE / Special to the star-advertiserKristen Caporiccio, who moved to Hawaii from a Boston suburb five months ago, sunbathed on Waikiki Beach on Monday while, back east, her mother was weathering Superstorm Sandy.

Fran Barrett, a visitor from Avondale, Pa., made it through Saturday's tsunami but got stranded in Hawaii on Monday as flight disruptions from Superstorm Sandy affected travelers.

"Fortunately for us, we are retired and we love Hawaii, so staying here an extra day is nice," said Barrett, who extended her stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. "However, we are anxious to get home to our relatives in the hurricane."

Flight cancellations Monday may have affected as many as 1,612 passengers on direct flights between Hono­lulu and East Coast cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J.

FlightAware, a Houston-based industry data provider, told Bloomberg News that the grounded-flights tally from Sunday through today was expected to reach 13,785.

In Hawaii both legs of the Hawaiian Airlines flight between New York and Hono­lulu, which seats approximately 294 passengers, were canceled Monday. United Airlines also canceled both legs of its 256-seat flights between Hono­lulu and Newark and between Hono­lulu and Dulles, outside Washington. The seats on those flights add up to 1,612.

"It's brought everything to a standstill," said Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays LLC, Hawaii's largest travel wholesaler. "We have guests all over the place. They are stuck on four different islands."

Hawaii hotels have been able to accommodate guest extensions because they aren't dealing with high summer occupancies and many arriving guests have been delayed, Richards said.

"In a way it's been a trade-off," he said. "But the good news is that as of (Monday evening) we have only had five cancellations. Almost everyone else is rebooking."

Jerry Gibson, vice president of Hilton Hawaii, said the company extended special rates to about 20 guests who had to stay over at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and about 15 guests who stayed on at the Hilton Wai­ko­loa Village and another 15 at the Grand Wai­lea.

"We are working with all of our guests," Gibson said. "If they can't get home, we would rather they stay in a nice hotel than an airport."

Hilton is also assisting guests whose Hawaii trips have been delayed, he said.

"Most of them will get here by Friday or Saturday," he said. "We understand. We don't want people hurt by the storm, and we don't want to penalize them."

Participants in the East-West Center's U.S. Presidential Election Reporting Seminar and the New Generation Seminar have been affected by foul weather, said program coordinator Liz Dorn. The first is a 12-day study tour for journalists with stops in Tampa, Fla., Cleveland and Washington; the second is a two-week program for young leaders in the United States and Asia-Pacific region with stops in Hono­lulu, Wisconsin and Washington.

"I was supposed to fly out on United from Hono­lulu to Newark tonight and then fly from Newark to Tampa," Dorn said. "But in the last 48 hours, my flight has been canceled and rebooked five times."

Three of Dorn's Asian-based participants also have been rerouted because they were supposed to go through New York or Washington, she said.

Throngs of Hawaii residents and visitors frolicked on Waikiki Beach on Monday as Sandy slammed into New Jersey and wreaked havoc in New York.

Kristen Caporiccio, who moved to Oahu from Boston five months ago, said Saturday's tsunami scared her. But on Monday she was glad to be in Hawaii.

"It's gloomy in Boston," she said. "It's cold and it's depressing."

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