HONOLULU (KHON2) — Memorial Day weekend is expected to be one of the busiest weekends for travel since the pandemic started.
It’s also the first holiday weekend since the state reopened inter-island travel for vaccinated residents. Many travelers say its their first time back on an airplane since the pandemic started.
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The summer travel season has officially begun.
AAA projects more than 2.46 million US residents will travel by air Memorial Day weekend and visitor traveling to and from Hawaii is expected to be near pre-pandemic numbers.
“We took a look at some numbers from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and there upwards of about 70 to 72% of what we were two years ago,” said Jai Cunningham from the Department of Transportation.
Cunningham said that if you’re traveling this weekend, you should make sure to plan ahead.
Mililani resident Kalen Hara was catching a flight to Kauai. He arrived extra early because he knew it would be busy. His advise to everyone, “Get to the airport very early. It’s going to be packed.”
According to Cunningham, you should give yourself between two and two and a half hours pre-flight to go through the check in process.
He says you should also take parking into consideration.
“With travel really increasing it could be busy so it might be best to have someone drop you off,” Cunningham said. “Maybe a ride share program, a taxi, a bus, something like that might be a little bit easier to get in and out of the airport.”
He said you should make sure to upload the necessary documents to the Safe Travels Program before you get to the airport.
Hawaii residents were eager to fly again.
“I was counting down the days to this trip,” Hara said. “I’m pretty excited.”
Many like him say they can’t wait to see loved ones.
Hoku Dudoit from Molokai said he and his two kids, Hi’ilani and La’akea, were headed to the Big Island to spend time with family they hadn’t seen in over a year.
“I’m really excited,” La’akea Dudoit said. “We have family in Kona so I’m really excited to see them.”
Many say they waitied until now to fly because they didn’t feel safe before.
“I feel a little bit more comfortable now that I’m vaccinated,” Hara said. “But I’m still kind of aware of other people.”
“I feel the same. Still kind of sketched-out,” Hoku Dudoit said. “But I guess with things opening up and everybody getting vaccinated. I feel a little bit more safe now.”
Officials want to remind all travelers that masks are mandatory on all airport properties even if you’re outdoors.