A Hawaiian Airlines passenger said he was dumbfounded when flight staff removed his family from a plane over a ticketing error — after they had already boarded.
Ryan DeMarre was seated on a flight from Seattle, Washington to Maui, Hawaii with his daughter on July 2. But before they could take off for vacation, airline staff told DeMarre that they had to get off the plane because of an “invalid ticket. ” He recorded the incident and posted his video of him on TikTok, where it has amassed 2.8 million views.
Travel chaos abounded over the Fourth of July weekend this year, with thousands of flights delayed or canceled amid the aviation industry’s continued struggle with staffing shortages, skyrocketing fuel prices and lingering supply chain issues. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it screened 11.3 million travelers between June 30 and July 4, marking the busiest travel period since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 30, American Airlines and Delta ranked among the 10 airlines with the highest numbers of canceled and delayed flights in the world. Meanwhile, a technical glitch at American Airlines left 12,000 flights without pilots on July 2.
However, of the thousands of passengers who found their travel plans foiled, DeMarre and his daughter were likely among the smaller number to be removed from a flight they had already boarded.
“Hawaiin airlines kicked us off the flight for an ‘invalid’ ticket,” he captioned his video. “How do we get through security and on a plane with a minor with an invalid ticket?”
The clip started with two staff members hovering over DeMarre’s seat.
“Some problem with my ticket?” he asked.
“Yeah,” one of them answered.
DeMarre told his daughter, “They’re asking us to leave.”
He recorded them walking off the plane and following a staff member to the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter.
“Are we making this flight?” he asked the agent there.
“No, your ticket is invalid,” she replied, informing him that the plane would be leaving without them — even though their luggage was still on board. The next Hawaiian Airlines flight they could take was the following day, DeMarre was told.
“A lot doesn’t make sense,” he commented below the clip. “Plus we made it through TSA. How does that happen?”
In a follow-up video, DeMarre explained that they booked another flight to Maui through Delta Airlines. The same-day round-trip ticket set him back $ 2,000.
Later, he told his audience that Hawaiian Airlines acknowledged making “a couple mistakes” and refunded him for the original flights, the Delta flights and his Uber fare after arriving in Maui too late to rent a car.
Hawaiian Airlines confirmed the incident to Newsweek.
“Our gate agents were notified of a disputed credit card charge involving a guest on a July 2 flight from Seattle to Maui, which was overlooked during the check in process,” said a spokesperson.
“We requested that the guest deplane while we investigated the issue. We understand the inconvenience this caused Mr. DeMarre and his family and sincerely apologize for the error. We have worked directly with Mr. DeMarre to resolve the issue.”
Still, the happy ending did not fully appease TikTok viewers, who were appalled by the airline’s snafu.
“So they remove you from the plane for an invalid ticket for security reasons but left your luggage on the plane to Maui! Wow! That’s scary!” one user commented.
“Somebody messed up bad,” another added.
Many viewers shared their appreciation for DeMarre’s calm demeanor throughout his stressful experience, contrasting the many passengers who have gone viral for unruly behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sir you handled this with class and grace even though I know you were boiling,” said a viewer.
Another exclaimed, “Wait a second!?!? You just got off the plane? Didn’t jump up and down and start screaming? I’m impressed.”
Newsweek reached out to Demarre for comment.
Updated 07/14/2022, 12:32 pm ET: This story has been updated with comments from a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson.