Why Hawaiian, Alaska, and Southwest Are Not Yet Competing

How Will Flights to Hawaii be Made Safe Again

Jeff needs to visit family in Oregon later this year and travel from Kauai. But it remains to be seen when that will happen, and how safe it will feel to spend 5 hours aloft on flights to Hawaii. Like you, we are looking for any light at the end of the tunnel.

For the time being, we have only essential service to and from Hawaii. On-board those planes, we hear that passengers generally do not sit near one another. Also, far more stringent cleaning protocols are in effect. Airlines have already had to forego many traditional services. Aircraft cleaning between flights has become extreme, which is necessary, time-consuming and costly.

From our read, the current risk of infection on planes is not fully understood. That having been said, the fact that cabin crew have not reported wide-spread issues might be telling us a lot.

As we learn more, and prior to the return of flights to Hawaii, new air travel safety protocols will continue to evolve. As to what that may look like, we’ve been given that a lot of thought, as you may have. As always, we welcome your input.

1. Limited movement on aircraft. In the past we all wanted to move around the aircraft. In the future, at least for awhile, that may not be the case. It’s still important for health to stand up and walk on long flights, so there may be limits placed on how many passengers can be up or in an aisle at a given time.

2. Deep cleaning between every flight. That has already begun. I think we will also continue to do our own cleaning of all surfaces before sitting down. In fact we have been practicing that for years.

3. Sanitation stations on board. We expect to see ubiquitous hand cleaner dispensers. Just to be safe, we will continue to bring our own.

4. Automated lavatory sanitation between uses. We haven’t heard much about this recently, nor do we know what can be retrofitted to existing planes. About five years ago, Boeing came up with a design for an innovative self-cleaning lavatory. “The UV light destroys all known microbes by literally making them explode.

5. Touch-less lavatory adaptations for doors, sinks and toilets. These already exist, but what can be accomplished and in what time frame, is unknown.

6. Revised boarding and disembarkation procedures to minimize crowding. Do you remember how we all stood up and gathered as flights began to board? Even though we were told to wait until our row was called? Or the norm of standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowded jetway, often with no ventilation? We have a feeling the airlines won’t have any arguments from us in avoiding these going forward.

7. Mandatory use of face masks. No problem, it appears this will be our new travel and clothing accessory for the foreseeable future. 

8. Health screen. Temperature’s will be taken and likely more. We encountered this in Africa last fall.

A substantive study took place at Emory University two years ago.

While it was not conclusive at the time, the study, published by the National Academy of Sciences, found that both surface and air samples on aircraft showed no remnants of respiratory disease. That, in spite of the study taking place during winter travel season.

Researchers said, “Most of the infections that are due to air travel are because someone infected has been transported from point A to point B,” rather than occurring on the flight itself.

How thorough are the airline HEPA air filters?

Those are said to have a 99% efficiency rating and are of hospital quality. The International Air Transport Association recently said that due to “a range of factors including high cabin airflow rates, relative lack of contact between passengers, lack of face-to-face conversations, and widespread awareness of avoiding flying while unwell,” air travel is and will remain safe.

The World Health Organization has said “There is no evidence that recirculation of cabin air facilitates the transmission of infectious disease agents on board.”

Add your thoughts and comments below. We love hearing from you. Mahalo!

PS. All of this, to precede testing and immunization.

25 thoughts on “How Will Flights to Hawaii be Made Safe Again”

  1. I’m trying to get to Hawaii to see my son that is in the marines it’s killing me. I hope everything starts opening up. Hawaiii still has a 14 day quar antine is that correct

  2. A self-pricking anti body test comes on the market, which will display within 2 minutes (has a similar screen to a pregnancy test and is claimed to 92% accurate) if a person has had the vi rus in the past and currently has immunity. It would seem feasible that this will be a neccesity test to take before being authorized to board a plane. In addition to the security check there will probably also be a temperature check and request to see a certificate that within x hours of the flight, you are not carrying the vi rus.

  3. I realize that most of us are very concerned about our health and safety while flying. But just as important is our fiscal health and the HUGE ticket price increases we see going forward.

    We checked Hawaiian for flight prices for early 2021 only to find ticket prices nearly double what they were last year. Same with using dollars and points. I even emailed Hawaiian Airlines asking them to ‘re think’ their substantial increases. At current prices, (and no doubt there will be increases in lodging and food after all this settles down), we may have made our last trip to Hawaii.

    This situation has affected us all fiscally. If airlines price out the ‘regular folks’ – will there be enough tourism in future to bring the economy back in Hawaii?

    Appreciated all the interesting comments from everyone. THANKS Beat of Hawaii! :0)

    1. Hi Colleen.

      Thank you. It seems too early to know how next year will play out in every regard. So, selfishly, we still hope to see you here in Hawaii.


  4. Airlines will need to reconsider the practice of reconfiguring planes to cram more and more people in – fewer passengers, more social distance, higher prices. The price of safety. For decades we have all been subjected at one time or another to sitting next to someone coughing and sneezing through the entire flight and desperately attempting to not breathe “their air”. Impossible to do. Airports need to screen people prior to security screening and prior to arriving at crowded gate and boarding lines for viral symptoms. They either need to be not allowed to board a plane or required to wear an N95 mask supplied by the airport/airlines. It needs to be a new world of airline travel, one that actually considers the well being of the passengers.

    1. First comment was an oops. But I agree that there needs to be more effort made on behalf of the flying public to keep us healthy while flying. It wouldn’t take a whole lot.

  5. Thank you for the useful information in your bulletins.
    I know that this may be difficult to answer, but is it possible that I may be able to still fly from Ireland to Honolulu in September, or should I be cancelling my flights.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi John.

      Thank you. Our sense is that if you can wait another month or so to decide, we should know a lot more.


  6. Thank you for the informative updates. I do have a question…my mother has been in hospice in CA since January. I live in Hawaii and had to cancel plans to see her in March. I read that non-essential flights have now been stopped until June or later. If I need to make an emergency trip to see her, is it possible to book a flight, and what documentation would I need?

    1. Hi Cathy.

      Sorry to hear about your situation. Yes you can travel. We are not sure that any documentation is needed. Best bet is to check with the airline directly.


  7. We just flew back to the mainland (OAK) last night on our own “private 737 jet”. We were the only two passengers … no issue about a middle seat 🙂 We thought the gate attendance announcing our private jet was ready to for embarking was a chuckle. another chuckle was our boarding passes were A22 & 23 LOL! On board, were 4 additional crew members in their attire and all had on fresh orchid leis … nice touch SWA. What they didn’t have on, including the two pilots/two cabin working attendants were face masks. We did have ours on and also new gloves. Of course there was no service on the flight, not even bottled water offered. There was a trash collection at the end of the flight. The plane looked and smelled super clean yet we still followed our protocol of wiping down everything with our disinfecting wipes. We flew from KOA to HNL and then HNL to OAK — because the KOA to OAK no longer existed. What we noticed sitting in the HNL airport, SWA area was fire fighters in their hazmat garb armed with temperature wands and clipboards … there were a couple of flight arrivals with perhaps 4-8 passengers on the flights.
    Another thing we want to comment on: We had been in the islands since early March – the employees at the last two timeshare resorts we stayed at thanked us because the minimal guests allowed them to stay employed. We did have to write the management of the last two weeks properties to kindly consider returning/waiving the “resort amenities daily fees” since everything was closed up and not available…. even propane tanks were pulled from the BBQ’s the last three nights we were there (not nice, especially since social distancing wasn’t an issue with only two guest rooms occupied out of 200 unit property). Happy to report that the General Managers were happy to refund the resort amenity fees in full — that was the “right thing to do” as we politely pointed out, and understanding that these are difficult and unusual circumstances. We appreciate the extra caution and yet keeping the aloha spirit everyone displayed to us as frequent guests to the islands.

  8. I’ve been flying for business and pleasure for 40 years. I was one of the first to board a plane after 9/11. And I will again be one of the first to board a plane when this is over. I think the “game changer” in all of this is not going to be the masks, the social dis tancing, etc. It’s going to be the anti-body blood testing for all. If my blood shows anti-bodies, then I had it whether I knew it or not, and my body produced anti-bodies and I’m good to go. I suspect what’s going to happen is mass anti-body blood testing. And the Government will keep track of those test results. Those who have anti-bodies will probably be given some type of ID card. And those people will be “good to go”. The reality is that probably exponentially more people have had it and recovered than we have any idea, until mass testing is done. A plane load of passengers who have the anti-bodies can sit side-by-side, no masks, and move about the cabin. It won’t matter. But, for those without the anti-bodies, then they’re going to have to have a vaccine to protect them.

  9. Until when we are be able to travel again!!!! Can we still traveling with out the quar antine!!!! I need to go by next week!! Not for vacation is going to the be the funeral of my fiancé grandma!!!

  10. People don’t realize the Airplane can be cleaned and sanitized, the women Hair can be a problem the Vi rus can nest in the hair, many women don’t wash their hair every night many man does. so there is only so much a airline can do to keep people safe.

  11. Mahalo. Why can’t we shut down air travel like Australia new sealed and all other islands to protect us all

    1. Hi Beth.

      As I’m sure you know, aviation including airports are entirely under federal control.


  12. Aloha,
    I have reservations to fly to Maui on July 6, 2020. Will things be back to normal or should I look into moving my travel plans for later in the year? Mahalo for any information you can supply, Sheldon W.

    1. Hi Sheldon.

      We post everything that we learn. The best suggestion is to check back in about a month, and see how things are looking then.


  13. I think taking temperatures, while possibly a good idea, is somewhat arbitrary. Not everyone is “normal” at 98.6. There is evidence that normal can be quite a bit lower. Not sure how they decide where the cutoff is for keeping passengers off of flights.
    I also think that from now on, I will seriously consider buying travel insurance for the cost of my trip that covers illness, if there is a chance I could be kept from taking a flight by having a temperature. There is certainly a lot to consider here.

    1. found our expensive travel insurance for the year or travels does not cover pan demic situations.

  14. It seems like we ought to consider taking temps before boarding. Masks make sense, mandatory at least initially. Do you have any thoughts about limiting the carry on to facilitate the log jam in the boarding? Although our trip is in January, you read our minds about the 4000 mile trip from Missouri being anxiety raising. We appreciate your article(s) and insights.

    1. Hi Thomas.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, carry-on’s are definitely a source of log jam as you said.

      We appreciate all of your comments over the past five years!

      Aloha. R/J

  15. I don’t get the temperature screenings. The whole point is that it’s the time when your a symptomatic (without symptoms) is when most of the transmissions occur – that was the whole issue of travelers coming back from lunar New Years celebrations after catching the vi rus but not showing symptoms (like a temperature) for 14 days

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