Want to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court?

Your Guide to Sue Hawaiian Airlines in Small Claims Court

Your Hawaiian Airlines user agreement probably says you can’t sue Hawaiian Airlines in any court except Small Claims Court, thanks to an arbitration clause. While small claims court can be complicated and time consuming, when you sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court following the steps below, it usually gets you what you want.


Can you sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court? Does your case qualify?

Ready to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court? Small claims courts are only for certain types of claims, so you need to first figure out if your case qualifies:

  1. The amount of money: When you decide to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court, you are limited in how much money you can ask for based on your state. Every small claims court sets a maximum dollar size for the claim you can bring which, in most states, is either $5000 or $10,000, but it can be as low as $2,500. You can find a list of all 50 states’ monetary limits here.
  2. The type of relief: Normally there are two types of awards that you can seek in a lawsuit – monetary (a dollar value payment) and equitable (any non-monetary request). Most small claims courts can only grant monetary awards so if your issue with the airline has to do with, for example, luggage that was lost or damaged, they couldn’t be called upon to replace the physical luggage but the monetary value of what was lost or damaged.

If your claim doesn’t fall within the limits of your state’s small claims court, you’ll have to arbitrate your claim instead.


Send Hawaiian Airlines a demand letter.

Most small claims courts require that you ask the person you’re suing (the “defendant”) to fix your problem voluntarily before you file your claim. So if you want to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court, you need to send them a demand letter first where you ask them to do just that.
This letter can be a few simple sentences where you give Hawaiian Airlines your membership ID number, if you have one, your content information, and explain what the problem is and how you want them to fix it. You can even explain what we’ve tried to do with the company thus far to fix it.

When you’re done writing, you need to mail a hard copy of the letter, preferably as certified mail or some other service that allows you to confirm delivery, to their legal address:

Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.
Corporation Service Company
251 Little Falls Drive
Wilmington, DE 19808

If you would like examples of demand letters or more information about how to write them, you can find an excellent guide here.

The whole point is that you give Hawaiian Airlines the chance to fix it. They just might. But if they don’t, then you move forward and sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court with the next steps.


Fill out your court forms.

In order to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court, you’re going to need to fill out some paper work.

The paperwork will vary based on where you live. Each state has a set of forms that need to be filled out to file a claim, and sometimes counties will provide additional forms. The correct forms for your location will be available for free on your state court’s website.

Make sure you fill out enough forms for the next step, usually 3 or 4.


File your Hawaiian Airlines complaint forms with the court.

When you’re done filling out the court forms, it’s time to give those forms to the court. This is a legal process called “filing” and the steps differ a bit from place to place.

For example: Many courts will require you to physically come to the courthouse during specific hours and days to hand-deliver the forms to the court’s clerk. Other courts may allow you to file by mail, fax or (for a few courts) online.

No matter how you file, you will need to pay a small claims court filing fee before they allow your to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims. This fee amount will be published on your court’s website. If you are a low income plaintiff, it can sometimes be waved.

When you file your forms, the court clerk will provide you with a stamped copy of the forms and a court date. Keep it safe for the next step…


“Serve” your forms on Hawaiian Airlines.

If you’ve made it this far – good work! The steps required to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court are long and complicated.
Now that the courts know you are going to sue Hawaiian Airlines, the airline needs to know. This is a process called “serving”. To do this, you need to deliver a copy of your filed papers to Hawaiian Airlines.

Look at your court’s website for instructions on how to properly deliver your forms to Hawaiian Airlines, or search for “[your state] small claims service of process”. Courts have many strange rules about how to serve a defendant, and your claim will be dropped if you do not follow them perfectly. So be careful!


Show up for court.

The court date given to you by the clerk is your hearing. This is an important date.
Make sure you go to the right building (many big cities have lots of courthouses), with your copy of the filed forms and any evidence to show the judge why you decided to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court and why you deserve compensation.
The judge will render a decision, hopefully the same day, but possibly over the course of several hearing dates depending on the situation. Hawaiian Airlines may or may not send someone to oppose you. All you need to worry about focusing on your side of the story.

Ready to sue Hawaiian Airlines in small claims court?
If this sounds too hard and expensive, try consumer arbitration instead…

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