Maui Travel Isn’t Recovering; Now What?

Nearly all airlines have cut Maui flights this week, including Alaska, Delta, Southwest, United, and others. While Hawaiian hasn’t yet, it will likely join soon for various reasons (see below). According to Hawaii Tourism, daily arrivals are simply not changing direction. Typically, we expect to see more than two times as many visitors on Maui at this time of year.

How the world perceived the results of the Lahaina fire.

The world was rocked by images of visitors sleeping on the floor at Maui and Honolulu airports as they complied with the state’s request to vacate the island. Beat of Hawaii editors were in Honolulu during that mass evacuation, and it was an unforgettable media frenzy-invoking scene that has remained indelible, together with the images of the Lahaina fire devastation, that to this day are beyond comprehension.

Maui flights: airlines take the axe.

Since the reality of the unchanging Maui tourism disaster has become apparent, airlines almost across the board have no choice but to reduce flights. Those included United Airlines, which has cut flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to the island and has temporarily reduced flights from Denver and Chicago.

Could a magic turnaround start come Thanksgiving?

There’s still a glimmer of hope that the messaging can move forward enough plus other factors come into play, to get visitors back on track to Maui by then. And in that regard, Southwest Airlines has suspended or reduced Maui flights from multiple cities, including Phoenix and Sacramento, until Thanksgiving week.

Alaska Airlines has also adjusted its fall schedule and has cut seat capacity to Maui. Flight reductions there include LAX, PDX, SEA, and SAN.

We also previously reported that Delta Air Lines implemented significant reductions in its Maui flights until the summer of 2024. They eliminated two important routes entirely: the nonstop flights from their hubs at Atlanta and Minneapolis.

American Airlines too pared back Maui flights, especially from Los Angeles this fall. And Westjet also has cut Maui flights from Calgary and Edmonton, Canada.

While back at Hawaiian Airlines, we see no significant Maui flight cuts at this time, although we firmly believe those are coming. Hawaiian will concomitantly be facing the possibility of having up to one-half of their narrow-body fleet in the shop at any one time, for up to one year per plane over the next two years, due to engine repairs needed due to a massive recall that is spiraling.

Word on the street we’ve heard about Maui fires.

Beat of Hawaii editors have been traveling in Europe recently, partly to contrast changes in Hawaii and European travel. When talking with people in several countries, there is the feeling that others express to us that Hawaii itself burned down and that visitors should not go to Hawaii at this time. When we explain that it is a reasonably small albeit hugely important part of one island, people are generally quite surprised and pleased to hear that, but are pleased that the issues were more localized than they initially thought based on the media frenzy.

What will it take for Maui travel to return?

We can certainly understand the problematic issues at West Maui. Lahaina was a huge part of the West Maui region’s visitor stays. So visitors may feel more isolated than before and will be faced with seeing the damage to Lahaina’s devastation for years to come.

As for the remainder of Maui, nothing has changed either to reduce visitors or entice them to return. Most in Hawaii feel that visitors are welcome and needed.

But even without the lack of visitors and upcoming reservations, many of you have complained that there are still no significant reductions in the cost of accommodations or airfare for that matter. Accommodations, followed by airfare represent the major expenses of a Maui vacation. The lack of discounting remains concerning, juxtaposed with the island’s strong desire to bring more visitors.

Please share your thoughts.

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187 thoughts on “Maui Travel Isn’t Recovering; Now What?”

  1. Aloha,our family of 6 traveled to Maui on Sept 4th for a week.We stayed in Keihi.We felt nervous at first yet that nervousness quickly went away.We felt very welcomed.We all would return tomorrow if feasible.I believe the best way to get tourism up and running is to lower airfare, accommodations, and excursions. It’s just to expensive.

  2. Originally was going to Orlando for Thanksgiving but we decided to go to Maui instead. We just booked airfare for that week to help the tourism economy and volunteer. The airfare was as high as it usually is for that time of year and the condo prices in Kihei have not come down from what I have observed.

  3. You can’t expect a recovery until Kaanapali Beach is open. South Maui condos are not giving huge discounts but if only half the island is open, that’s what would be needed. Also, even after October 8, if the resentment remains, people will stay away. It still is not cheap, so why go where you are not wanted?

    1. Mike, read PatG’s post. That’s the reality of the situation from someone on Maui. A lot of people from 1000’s of miles away are sending vitriol towards Hawaii via social media. Consider the source….why would you want their perspective? It says more about them than it does anything about Hawaii.
      There’s a lot of Aloha on Maui right now.

      1. John W: My sister is an owner at the Residence Club (timeshare) that is attached to the Hyatt. They opened on Saturday the 16. She is on Oahu and is to come to Maui on Saturday, but now rethinking. She has her entire family with her and they were to stay there for 7 nites. She got an email yesterday, that they have had to close the pools at the Residence Club because the displaced persons staying at the Hyatt are yelling off their balconys at the visitors vacationing with rude and threatening remarks. We were to come on 10/28 so now I don’t know what to do.

        1. That is unacceptable behavior, and IMO shouldn’t have been handled the way it was. Anyone acting in a threatening manner towards guests in a hotel should be made to leave, displaced or not displaced, FEMA or no FEMA.

        2. Gloria,

          This is a hard call. But, staying away and the resort closing the pool is the wrong approach. The resort needs to give warnings to the locally displaced persons that they will be removed if they act improperly. They should be subject to the same rules as timeshare owners and other guests.

          To ignore their behavior is to encourage their behavior. Everyone is sorry, very sorry about the losses on Maui, but their behavior is not that of mourners, rather behavior of bullies. And, bullies have to be disciplined.

          We are vacationing at our former timeshare in Waikiki. Everything seems so normal here.

          1. Rod: I couldn’t agree more. It was wrong for the Hyatt to place those people in that one tower where they could see the pools – and it is wrong that the next property over – Marriott is completely open with their pools (same company) because no one can see them. Yes we are all sorry. But again, if this wasn’t a resort town the people would stay in other places. When California burned this didn’t happen. Owners at the Timeshare have paid their dues and now their expected vacation isn’t what they are paying for. It would be better to completely close the place and say you just can’t come – we’ll give you a different week – no harm no foul. Hyatt continues to send emails to all of us asking for donations for their specific employees.

        3. Sorry Gloria, I’m a bit skeptical about an anecdote about one incident when there are so many stories that contradict that. If it happened it was an isolated incident….there are people out there doing stupid things for sure and the amount of stress so many are under doesn’t help. But there’s a lot of Aloha to be found in Maui right now, it truly needs it. It doesn’t need the finger pointing right now.

          1. John W: Not saying that – simply saying that last week the Hyatt told my sister to come – the pools would be open, the bars would be open, etc. Now they are there and they are closing the pools – no one can enjoy what they have paid for because of this. They should should move the people to where they can’t see people in the pools. It is only 1 tower that can see them – it is a big hotel. It isn’t like you can get your fees or you money back. She came because they said all would be fine.

  4. The frustrating thing for me as a South Maui resident is that the messaging online is completely different, almost opposite, of the way things really are here. Post after post alternates between people talking about the antisocial vibe they are getting online, vs. posts from people who have actually visited lately and have experienced friendly, grateful residents and had the time of their lives. I can also tell you talking to people every day that the latter is the way it really is, at least in South Maui.

    I suggest you close your computers and not read the nonsense online (except BOH, of course!). If you are thinking of coming, just come, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

    1. Pat, I guess it stands to reason that anyone who feels the need to sit home and take potshots at the “locals” when Lahaina has suffered so much is really not someone who has the best insight about Hawaii.
      Perhaps they should ask themselves why they have that perception when so many have an entirely different experience.

  5. There are so many mixed messages about coming back to Maui right now. I think it is best for us to stay away. I understand. There are already some protest about West Maui opening up in October. Maui is already very expensive and vacationing is expensive. I don’t want to feel obligated to overpay for anything due to the devastation. I am like most Americans and work hard for my vacation money, and it is limited to not spend on an extravagant vacation. I feel sorry for the people and I know they need tourism for their economy. A lot of people feel it’s too much of an emotional time to visit the people and want to let them heal and get back to normal.

    1. Well that’s one of the issues, how can the people in Maui return to normal if tourists do stay away? Tourists staying away will lead to more Maui workers being laid off, working less hours, receiving less tips, going into further debt, making it even harder for the working class to make ends meet. Yes, agree on too many mixed messages and the new message of “mindful” travelers is probably turning off a lot of potential tourists.

      Those that have recently traveled to Maui, including West Maui have shared only warm greetings and heartfelt thanks, from the workers, for visiting.

      1. Ben: You are right and very hard to visit. The Hyatt Regency is housing Red Cross, Fema and Residents. Not sure why the Jewel of Kaanapali is housing Red Cross and Fema and not letting guests stay, but their plan was to open on 9/16 and now closed until 10/28. People are thinking with their emotions and not their brains. The person that I spoke to yesterday at the Hyatt said “what they are doing is a Lose Lose scenario”. Too Sad

        1. I don’t understand how someone can call it it a “lose lose scenario” when a hotel like the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali decides to house those that lost their homes vs tourists sipping cocktails. They also house people working at FEMA, the Red Cross etc. and they do get paid. Many locals gave the Hyatt thumbs up for being the 1st hotel giving them temporary housing. I would highly recommend that resort over others to friends and family in the future.

  6. Our family returned last week from Vacationing in Maui.I must admit we felt nervous at first.There was no reason to feel that way. We all felt welcomed.We all had a nice vacation.We stayed at a lovely resort in Keihi. I urge people to travel there.

  7. We’ve been visiting Maui in early December nearly every year since our 20th anniversary in 1998. Flight prices have always fluctuated. This year, we thought prices would be a little less expensive, so I was surprised to see that prices were about the same (or higher) than we are used to paying. It makes sense, though. If airlines are reducing the number of flights, those flights will be fuller, which will drive up prices. We looked at prices the end of July, and decided to wait. We just booked last week, and the flight is about $100 more than it was 2 months ago.

  8. We had booked for Kaanapali Hyatt late October way back at the start of the year. After the fires we hesitated coming, but after a few weeks heard that there was a desire to have the tourist economy come back.

    However, our hotel shut down without notice on September 15, canceling our reservation with no support. We looked at every week in 2024 but the hotels have decided the increased demand due to their own cancellation has justified in increasing prices by 50% or more!!

    So we no longer can afford Maui and are going to look for another island. In the meantime, we’ll plan to continue donating to local verified nonprofits supporting getting families supported and back into their homes.

    1. LMG: Did they not reschedule you for the week beginning October 28 when they reopen? BTW, this is new and just happened because this message wasn’t on their website last week?

      1. Nope, no offer and central reservations couldn’t help either. It’s brand new—woke up to cancellation on Friday without any messaging why. By the weekend they had updated their website and sent out a message.

        1. LMG Stupid and Sad all at the same time. I specifically spoke to the Residence Club (timeshare next door) and was told – 9/15 was opening day for both and to come. Residence Club is open and taking guests – you might be able to get a great deal.

  9. Mixed messages keep coming. Now you have a petition with over 4000 signatures, asking the Governor of Hawaii to delay reopening of West Maui to tourists.

    A small vocal minority, against tourism, will collectively punish the tens of thousands of local residents that depend on tourism and that want the tourist to return.

    Doesn’t help to put out messages that you only want a certain kind of tourist.


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