Officials encourage Hawaii residents to plan ahead for Memorial Day travel


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first holiday weekend since reopening inter-island travel to vaccinated residents is coming up.

Airports and airlines are letting people know Memorial Day weekend will be busy and are reminding travelers to make sure they have their documents ready to go.

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The state allowed Hawaii residents to bypass the mandatory quarantine or pre-test to travel inter-island on Friday, May 7. Lt. Gov. Josh Green says it has gone well so far and about a third of travelers have used their vaccine cards.

“I actually just touched base with a leadership and they’ve now done over 15,000 inter-island trips, with no real difficulties,” he explained. “So 15,000 trips, and sure I’m sure there’s a delay here or there.”

Hawaiian Airlines advises travelers to get to the airport early whether they are vaccinated, took a pre-travel test or plan to quarantine.

“So we do expect it to be busy, we would normally ask for people to arrive about an hour before departure. but we’d like to ask people to arrive about 90 minutes before departure,” explained Jeff Helfrick, vice president of airport operations at Hawaiian Airlines.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) says residents going to the mainland should be at the airport much earlier and make sure documents like QR codes and vaccination cards are printed on paper as well.

“Two and half hours to be safe for mainland travel,” said Jai Cunningham, a spokesperson for DOT.

“The good news, to date checked with a few of the airports and more than 50 percent of parking is still available so that’s a good sign, but again you’re talking about a three-day weekend so we definitely will  see an increase in traffic,” he continued.

Cunningham says it is better to be prepared because it could be the first weekend people travel since the pandemic began.

“If there’s five, ten or 15 people in front of you who aren’t aware of with what’s going on that could lead to some delays,” he added.

Green says Hawaii has come a long way since Memorial Day in 2020.

“I didn’t think we’d get to 75% this quickly, but I could tell that there was a lot of demand to come to Hawaii, and it’s going to continue to increase so let’s do it safely,” Green added.

Green hopes Hawaii residents can come back from the mainland showing their vaccine card once 60% of the state is vaccinated, and 70% for mainland travelers.

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