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Hawaii Turmoil: When Will Testing Stop, Airline Cancellations, Car Rental Crisis, More

Hawaii Tourism Authority said that over 32,000 people arrived on Sunday as the peak of summer travel gets underway. Hawaii vacation numbers are back to just about the same strength as pre-Covid. In fact, next month, we will likely see some all-time tourism records broken.

The reasons are clear, Hawaii is wonderfully exotic yet safely domestic and is still relatively easy, while travel to Europe, for example, is still not. It seems like international travel is better postponed at least a little longer because rules are changeable and confusing at best.

But everything isn’t great. There are still some big concerns about Hawaii vacations, and they are not inconsequential.

When will testing stop: Lt. Gov. says it must be before July 4 holiday.

As you know, Hawaii is waiting to reach 60% fully vaccinated. That is when Governor Ige said he would drop the pre-travel testing program for mainland arrivals who are fully vaccinated.

As of the latest data, Hawaii stands at 57%.  Ige said yesterday, however, that “The number of vaccines administered in the last week is significantly lower than the number of vaccinations administered two weeks ago.”

Yesterday, Lt. Governor and likely gubernatorial candidate Josh Green said that Hawaii must change the rules before the July 4 holiday so that “Hawaii not get a black eye by being unclear” and to prevent “a lot of confusion and a lot of large conflicts.”

Governor Ige remained non-committal regarding Green’s request but indicated he would work with the state health department to arrive at a date to be announced soon. He apparently does not share the same concerns as Lt. Gov. Green.

If testing doesn’t get you, then airline cancellations will.

Airlines from American and Southwest to United are canceling flights due to various reasons, the most notable of which is a lack of pilots. Both American Airlines and United Airlines have addressed this situation publically. Also, we saw two Southwest Hawaii flights were canceled just yesterday. So this raises a concern for Hawaii vacation-bound travelers. It is likely too soon to know how serious a problem this could become, but we are keeping an eye on it. Those airlines seemingly unaffected thus far include Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines. And, all of this may be a call to consider trip insurance if you didn’t already have enough reasons.

Hawaii travel tries to keep pace with demand.

There’s no doubt about it. With a lack of staff, the entire Hawaii hospitality industry is struggling to keep up. And this is creating a lot of stress all the way around. If you ever wanted to work in Hawaii, this may be your chance!

We went from early March, with no visitors and deserted beaches, to an unexpectedly fast return to normal. No one was ready. In addition, many workers chose not to return to jobs at hotels, restaurants, etc. Businesses are unable to hire people to meet demand, and we hear this on the ground repeatedly. Those willing to work are working overtime, while those still on unemployment may consider themselves “retired” from the Hawaii travel biz.

Perfect storm Hawaii car rental crisis unabated. Creative choices do exist.

The car rental shortage with concomitant exorbitant prices continues. At least until August, cars are starting from $150 to $200 a day for the Hawaii airport locations we checked today Thereafter, depending on the island, prices “start” to come back down from the stratosphere, although it is looking like $100 a day may become the new base “normal” for Hawaii car rentals well into the future.

We recently spoke with a vacation rental manager who told us that they had secured 25 cars to create their own rental pool for guests. That may have saved those Hawaii vacation rentals from cancellations that might otherwise have ensued.

The bottom line here is to be creative. Read all the latest tips and tricks (plus nearly 400 visitor comments) on Hawaii car rentals. Then ask your accommodation provider if they have any leads on more reasonably priced car rentals. It can’t hurt to ask.

What happened to Hawaii vacation rentals?

There has been a run on Hawaii vacation rentals as well, and they are very hard to come by at the moment. Just saying. We’ll cover that in more detail soon.

37 thoughts on “Hawaii Turmoil: When Will Testing Stop, Airline Cancellations, Car Rental Crisis, More”

  1. Aloha, Things will be getting better on July 8th! However, today is not so good. American Airlines cancelled our daughters trip from Baltimore to Dallas to Maui. The tickets were purchased in March and American rescheduled twice. She was coming to visit us with her husband and children 2, 5 and 8 years old. They had their COVID tests in order, got up at 4:00a.m. to drive an hour to the airport. While on the airport parking shuttle bus they got word that their flight had been cancelled. After 2 hours of waiting in line and then on the phone they got a rebooked flight for tomorrow that will involve a longer ride and a hotel room in Washington D.C. The $700 in preferred seats that were purchased so they could sit together could not be transferred to the new tickets, only refunded in the next 10 days. Also their COVID tests have to be rescheduled and paid for again. So glad she is the kind of person who is flexible and can stay positive through the airlines debacle. American Airlines needs to do better. It is unconscionable that they continue to book so many flights and cancel with such little notice.

  2. We recently came back from a trip to Hawaii, Big Island and we got a good deal because we booked back in November. After returning the car, there was a normal amount of sand in the car. Nothing more that previous times we’ve been there. I got a letter a week later that they’re charging me $450 for excessive sand in the car. I think the car rental companies thought they could make some extra money that way. When I returned the car, the check in clerk never said anything about the car. He said it was fine and gave me my receipt.

  3. Have a planed trip to Maui for Thanksgiving, there will be 10 of us going. (hopefully) Four of the traveling party have not been to Hawaii. What does not make any sense id hotels, condos can be at 100% but restaurants can only be at 50%. The math does not work out. Again when the state has the Governor and LT. Governor disagreeing on lifting restrictions, I tend to believe the Lt. Governor who is a MD before I will believe a retired engineer. Hope to see Maui in November.

    Thank you for keep us up to date.

    1. Hi Markr.

      We too hope your trip to Maui at Thanksgiving will go perfectly. Thanks for your dozens of comments!


  4. I made a car reservation on Costco almost a year ago for my January 2022 trip to Maui. I have a full size car for only $459. Do you think I have to be concerned about the rental company honoring that price? Any stories about people finding their long-held reservations not honored?

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