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Paddlers stranded by canceled race say airline boosted fares

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Team Bradley paddlers, from seat one, Lori Nakamura, Andrea Moller, Mahealani Botelho, Lauren Spalding, Kristen Foster and Noelani Sawyer crossed the finish line first in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race on Sunday.

After dangerous winds and huge swells led to the cancelation of a world-renowned canoe race, stranding competitors on Molokai, some say Hawaiian Airlines increased fares in the rush to fly off the island.

About 750 paddlers were left looking for flights off the island Saturday when race officials called off Na Wahine O Ke Kai, which is sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines.

"Due to the cancellation of the Na Wahine O Ke Kai, Ohana by Hawaiian has added extra flights to accommodate passengers traveling from Molokai to Honolulu," the airline said in a statement.

Hawaiian Airlines increased the number of flights to help with the added rush, but some found fares jumped from $89 to about $300 in the hour following the race cancelation, Hawaii News Now reports.

"The huge thing was just trying to get flights out. So everyone was on the phone, on the computer, just trying to get flights out of town," said Susan Duprey, a Lanikai paddler. "And to go from Molokai to Honolulu, it was a one-way $300 ticket for that person! Unanticipated."

A Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman said the high demand led to lower fares starting to sell out. When the airline learned of the race cancelation, they added five extra flights at $89. She said most customers paid under $100 for a one-way ticket.

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