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Call Kurtis: Airlines Cracking Down on Check-in Rules

A Sacramento couple says a trip to the bathroom ended with Hawaiian Airlines canceling their reservations.

When it almost ruined a surprise trip for his dad's 70th birthday, it was time to call Kurtis.

How late do you push it when you fly?

We've learned you may not want to push it at all.

Some airlines are now strictly enforcing a 45-minute rule.

This 70th birthday surprise in Hawaii almost didn't happen.

In April, Bill Hicks and his girlfriend, Kristen, planned to surprise his dad and the rest of his family in Honolulu.

"It was trip of a lifetime, took 8-9 months of planning, all this covert operation so he wouldn't find out," said Bill Hicks, Hawaiian Airlines passenger.

But the couple says a stop by the bathroom at the Sacramento Airport before the morning flight caused them to check in at Hawaiian Airline's counter 42 minutes before departure time.

The airline canceled their reservation saying the cutoff to check bags was 45 minutes.

"Really, you're just splitting hairs over three minutes?" asked Bill.

Bill's mom who was already with his dad in Hawaii waiting, thinks the airline just wanted to double sell those seats.

"They were making a profit, a big profit on this," said Anne Hicks, Bill's mom.

To make the surprise, Bill and Kristen paid about $800 more flying another airline.

"If you want to play in their play pen, you got to play by their rules," said Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor, CBS News.

Greenberg says airlines cracking down on the 45 minute rule is just one of the many ways they're maximizing profits.

"All the airlines are doing is filling the seats they want to fill the seats," said Greenberg.

Hawaiian Airlines tells us the couple showed up 40 minutes before the flight, not 42.  And quote:

"We're sticklers about these times because accepting customers later than this invariably causes flight delays."

-- Keoni Wagner, spokesperson

As a courtesy, Hawaiian credited the couple for nearly $390 for their tickets.

A tough lesson but they're glad it didn't ruin dad's 70th birthday surprise.

"Everything that he had on his bucket list was carried out in Hawaii," said Anne.

The couple could've flown standby on Hawaiian the next day but then they would've missed the surprise.

Hawaiian's rule... bags must be checked 45 minutes before the flight.  You must be at the gate a half hour before.

Those times vary depending on the airline and where you're flying.

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