Many of you are looking forward to spending the upcoming holidays here in Hawaii. And we look forward to welcoming you. The only thing is, there may be some significant hitches in the near-term Hawaii travel scene that we should all be prepared for. We say that in the short term, caveat emptor (buyer beware). On a good note, airfares at the holidays are running lower than normal, and may be the best bargain that you’ll find.
1. TSA issues at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.
There are big problems ahead for TSA. In Hawaii that could be even worse, since TSA resources are already stretched so thin. TSA says that 40% of its workers including screeners (nationwide) are unvaccinated and in that regard, a big deadline is pending. On November 22, they are mandated to be fully vaccinated. While TSA remains hopeful, the possibility remains that there could be an extreme shortage of TSA workers at airports both here in Hawaii and at the Hawaii gateways visitors travel from.
One thing you can do is to check the estimated TSA wait time before heading to the airport. TSA offers wait time information via its My TSA mobile app. Download the app to check real-time. Jeff’s missed a flight from Hawaii due to far longer than expected TSA wait time, so you can be sure we’re taking this advise ourselves.
2. Lack of restaurant hours and availability.
Hawaii restaurants are already in short supply, for a multitude of reasons including remaining capacity limited at 50% for now. The Hawaii Restaurant Association is asking for changes to allow more capacity. Come November, Hawaii will see big increases in tourism including international arrivals that had been on hold.
Last month both Oahu and Maui implemented vaccination passport requirements for restaurants. To be seated indoors you must either be vaccinated or have had a COVID test within the prior 48 hours.
Inadequate and demoralized restaurant staffing issues. First, a significant percentage of Hawaii restaurant employees never returned to their jobs. For those that have, frustration emanates from customers who don’t understand the supply/demand issues and from those who haven’t been entirely willing to comply with the new vaccination/testing rules. When customers don’t comply, restaurants can face $5,000 fines or jail.
Restaurant hours are frequently reduced. So if you’re thinking of eating out for lunch, for example, you’d better check first. Many restaurants are no longer keeping their normal hours. Be sure to check first, and make reservations when booking your travel.
We don’t know whether the governor will change the current capacity limit prior to the holiday season, but that’s entirely possible.
3. Sky-high car rentals.
We said last week that Hawaii car rentals continue to be at a premium, or worse, especially during the upcoming holidays. Prices for Christmas and New Years’ period range from $971/week in Honolulu to $1237/week on Maui, $1147/week on the Big Island, and $1149/week on Kauai.
We have a slew of ideas on this subject, and in more than 500 comments, you do too. Read the post on Hawaii car rentals.
3. Hotel rates are no better.
We are also reporting Hawaii Hotel Average Prices Up To $913. This is going to be far worse at the holidays when there is less availability and more demand.
Will you be visiting Hawaii this year at the holidays, and if so, how have you prepared?