In October 2010 I purchased two tickets, one for myself, another one for my fiancee. When I called HA asking them for 2 upgrades using my "Hawaiian Miles" I was told "there is only one upgrade for Hawaiian Miles available" so I upgraded my fiancees flight from Honolulu to Phoenix and printed out her reservation. However I was told "You can get another upgrade if you pay cash". It was clearly showing "First" instead of "Coach". However, there was no seat assignment. I called several times to inquire why the reservation was not showing a seat and I was told that there are always 4 seats that Hawaiian Airlines keeps without assigning them to a passenger but I was told that I would not have to worry - a First Class passenger would not get bumped for not having a seat assignment.
When we arrived at the airport and checked in we were given two boarding passes for Coach and I showed what I had printed out. The answer was "What you printed out does not have any meaning, what matters is what we have in our system and it is not showing that she has a seat in First. I asked for a supervisor and she came back with a complete printout of their system records showing that a manager canceled the upgrade that had been given to her previously and returned the Miles to my Hawaiian Miles Account.
This happened behind my back without my knowledge or approval. What I believe is that a manager needed the seat for himself for for one of his family members (probably Hawaiian Airlines employees don't travel in Coach). Another possibility is that they preferred to sell this seat for cash ($ 600.- one way)
What I have learned from this experience is that Hawaiian Miles are worthless, this company treats you like you own some kind of toy money and even if your reservation is clearly showing the upgrade they can cancel it at any time without informing you.