Beat of Hawaii

Omicron Dumps Cold Water on Hawaii Travel Recovery

For those of you dreaming of a Hawaii vacation this winter, there is some chill in the air to deal with, and it goes beyond the huge storm that is just departing the island chain today.

The concern now is a word we only learned of recently: Omicron. The latest COVID variant is here in Hawaii, and we are about to learn about more cases. Yesterday the state Department of Health said there were two more confirmed Omicron variant cases in Honolulu and said, “Omicron is in our community.” They are currently sequencing at least 8 additional likely Omicron cases.

A huge number of Hawaii visitors postponed their Hawaii vacations during COVID, going back as far as last year, or as recently as this late summer and fall when Governor Ige asked visitors to pause vacations until November 1.

Now the question is, is it safe to travel to Hawaii during the holidays and during the snowbird winter season?

Only international travel has been interrupted – at least so far.

The US has imposed new rules that began yesterday when all persons entering the US were required to have a negative COVID test within 24 hours of travel.

But international restrictions are bringing to light concerns about whether the next step will be similar restrictions on domestic travel. And that comes as Hawaii travel is just trying to recover in earnest. Last week saw a record number of US travelers, and Hawaii travel is anxiously awaiting a hugely busy holiday and winter season.

With so little known about Omicron, it is hard to know at this point how it could impact Hawaii travel. And while we wait to learn more, the best thing we can say is that keeping travel options open is more important than ever. Let’s just hope we keep moving forward, and not backward, yet again.

What’s brewing with domestic Hawaii travel.

The federal government is extending its mask mandate on airplanes at least through mid-March, 2022. But we are still left wondering whether there could be testing required for domestic flights. We mentioned recently that the White House indicated that might eventually be added for domestic flights as well as international. It is definitely being considered. That will wait, however, until somewhat more is known about the Omicron variant.

Airlines take a beating again.

In the meantime, airlines are expecting to take a beating from Omicron, at least internationally if not domestically too. That was confirmed by UAL whose CEO said “Omicron is certainly going to have a near-term impact on bookings” although he expects it to have less impact than Delta.

Hawaiian’s CEO Peter Ingram just said that it anticipates the timing of some Hawaii travel recovery will be postponed. “It would be naive to see we didn’t take a setback as policymakers reacted very quickly to the Omicron variant. We are going to have to see what develops in this space in the days ahead.” Hawaiian, for example, has lost nearly 95% of international traffic to Hawaii since COVID.

At the same time, one thing is abundantly clear. The pent-up demand for Hawaii travel is insatiable.

47 thoughts on “Omicron Dumps Cold Water on Hawaii Travel Recovery”

  1. Governor Ige needs to leave office.
    He has decimated the Hawaiian Islands economy and recovery.
    Wishing all you who want to visit the islands good luck.

  2. We live on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Whatever mandates apply to what is called domestic travel in my opinion is for those who would be traveling on the mainland. If people are coming here it’s similar to traveling internationally. We need stricter mandates for Hawaii to prevent the spread of any disease so the residents will be safe and infrastructure will not be overwhelmed.

  3. Just arrived home from 15 amazing days in Kauai. Booked our next trip to Big Island in November. Go, life’s short!

  4. I am traveling from Texas to Hawaii in January. Just wondering if I need to take a covid test 24 hours before my flight or 72 hours before? Im not vaccinated at the moment. Im a little confused with all the restrictions listed under the safe travels page.

  5. I will be moving to Kauai January 2022.
    In 1974 my wife and I visited close family friends in Hanapepe and Kapaa.We returned in 1978 to be married in the Fern Grotto,with a reception at Coco Palms.
    After many visits,in 2008 we decided to retire on Kauai.Unfortunately cancer took my wife .I visited in 2016 at a Kalaheo Airb&b and the Kalaheo Inn.I am looking for a place to live and I hope the Inn has some vacancy for me.Hoping to complete “our fairy tale” ending.

  6. I am a resident and am returning to Hawaii Jan 4, 2022. I have had Moderna vaccine and booster. What do I need to do to return home? What about airline wrist bands. I am booked on Southwest. I am an avid follower of your blogs and thank you for this service.

    1. Hi David.

      You need to use the Hawaii Safe Travels website to register your vaccination exemption and within 24 hours of flying return to complete the health questionnaire. You’ll get the wrist band from the airline after you check in at the airport.


      1. We arrived in Kona last night. The wristband feature requires a separate screening process entirely and you are expected to have all your ducks in a row on your smart phones. The format for answering all the questions and uploading all the info required to the Safe Travel website is not very intuitive. Make sure you take your time and get it right the first time. Ask a tech savvy person for help if need be or expect to be stuck in line until you can pass muster perfectly.

  7. Just departing kona after spending the past week in hilo, volcano and north coast. Masked residents workers and visitors not resisting mandate. We felt safe and lucky that we were always on the dry and calm side of the recent storms. Hawaii is doing it right!

  8. Covid ain’t going anywhere soon, so either learn to adapt or stay locked up in your home.

    We got vaccinated last August, since been to Fort Bragg Ca, Monterrey Ca, Maui Hi and just got back from 3 days at Disneyland.

    Today I finished booking Big Island for May.

    Quit watching the 24hr cable news, get vac’d and enjoy life.

    1. Totally agree. I have stopped watching cable news and using social media since Pandemic started. Miss neither of them. I wasted so much time on Facebook and 24 hour news (normally 15 minutes which just keeps rerunning) and all it did was elevate my stress levels. Stick to informed websites with no political agenda like Beat of Hawaii. (Mahalo Guys)

      1. You obviously don’t understand what the vaccine does. Even vaccinated will bring it to Hawai’i. The vaccine only protects the ones being vaccinated.

    1. People grumbling about Safe Travels, stop blaming the Governor for continuing to keep safe measures in place for our island residents. COVID will be around for along time and it’s important to keep safe measures in place.

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