Easy, breezy, beautiful: What it’s like traveling to Hawaii while vaccinated

Jul 16, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

I just arrived for my third trip to Hawaii during the pandemic, and it is shocking how much easier it has gotten since Hawaii unveiled a pre-clearance screening process for those who are fully vaccinated. As of July 8, fully vaccinated people from the mainland no longer need to pre-test or quarantine on arrival to Hawaii.

From my experience, I can tell you the process has gotten so much better and less stressful and makes me more inclined than ever to recommend a trip to the islands of Hawaii.

For more TPG travel news and tips delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.

I was in Hawaii back in February 2020 right before the world shutdown from COVID-19. I was back in January of this year trying out the Kauai resort bubble for visitors, and then I came back in March for visits to Oahu and Hawaii (the Big Island).

Back again on July 15, I got a pre-clear bracelet in Seattle from gate agents working each Hawaii flight. Unlike in previous visits when that didn’t do much for you once you arrived in Hawaii, that little paper bracelet now allows you to skip nearly all screening on arrival. It literally took me less than five minutes to leave the airport.

Keep reading for step-by-step directions.

In This Post

The new Hawaii Safe Travels rules

As we reported back on July 8, Hawaii launched its new exemption for fully vaccinated travelers that day. According to the state of Hawaii, here are the steps:

  • Upload documentation from one of three approved vaccinations (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) to the state’s Safe Travels Hawai‘i account prior to travel.
  • Sign the online legal attestations on Safe Travels Hawaiʻi, confirming the uploaded documentation is true and accurate.
  • Bring hard copies of your vaccination card to show screeners/gate agents at the gate for your departing plane.

Related: Everything you need to know about visiting a reopening Hawaii

In my experience, all the gate agents wanted to see was the QR code from the state of Hawaii showing that I’d uploaded proof of vaccination.

Register your trip at Hawaii Safe Travels website

You first task is to have your proof of vaccination handy. Go to Safe Travels Hawaiʻi and start filling out the digital forms. You’ll see a screen that looks like this.

(Screenshot courtesy Safe Travel Hawaii)
(Screenshot courtesy Safe Travel Hawaii)

Visit TPG’s Hawaii destination hub for more stories about getting to the islands, staying on the islands and what to do while you’re there.

You’ll need to create an account and login. Next, you’ll see this screen where you simply click on “Trips,” and add your trip.

Safe Travels Hawaii welcome screen.
(Screenshot courtesy Hawaii)

You’ll click on the “Exemption/Exception from Quarantine” page next and upload your documents.

Screenshot from Safe Travels state of Hawaii.
(Screenshot from Safe Travels state of Hawaii.)
(Screenshot from Safe Travels state of Hawaii.)
(Screenshot from Safe Travels state of Hawaii.)
(Screenshot from Safe Travels state of Hawaii.)
(Screenshot from Safe Travels state of Hawaii.)

You then need to confirm an affidavit that you are healthy and have told the truth. It takes just a few minutes, and trust me when I tell you, this is a much less nerve-wracking process. Just make sure you have that CDC vaccination card.

CDC Vaccination cards
CDC vaccination cards. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Eventually, you’ll get to a screen showing your all-important QR code. It still has that big red “x,” but eventually that will turn green as you’ll be able to see from the tweet below.

Boarding your flight to Hawaii

Related: Fair warning, Hawaii is crowded again

Ninety minutes before the flight, gate agents began checking travel documents required for Hawaii, including a QR code that shows you’ve been vaccinated, or tested within 72 hours of departure. Do note, I tried to get my bracelet from the boarding area for another Hawaii flight, but they will only work on the flight they are assigned. I would suggest getting to the gate early, so you don’t end up waiting in line when they announce they are beginning the pre-clear process.

Those who had all their papers in order were given wrist bands that say “Alaska Hawaii pre-clear.” That QR code and my driver’s license is all I needed  to show the gate agents for my flight to Hawaii. They put a paper wristband on me and sent me on my way.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

It got a little chaotic as multiple Hawaii flights were leaving around the same time, but we even managed to board early and push back on time.

Onboard your plane

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

You literally don’t have to do anything else after you board your flight. In fact, unlike previous trips, flight attendants didn’t even warn people about paperwork or entry requirements. I imagine pre-screening Hawaii flights weeds out those who “messed up.”

Related: Hawaii ending testing requirements

You will need to fill out the normal Hawaii agriculture forms, which are collected by flight attendants.

Arriving in Hawaii

Here’s where it gets really good. On all my previous pandemic-period visits, no matter if you’d been pre-cleared and had a bracelet or not, you still needed to meet with various airport and healthcare workers (or even National Guard troops!). This time?

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

If you had a bracelet, you were shown a separate lane that skipped all the screening. In other words, if you had and could show that bracelet, you just literally walked out of the airport via special lanes.

Talk about a relief. I didn’t have to show anyone anything except for that bracelet!

Easy peasy.

Conclusion

In summary, the state of Hawaii and the airlines, in my experience, have finally got all this figured out. No more pre-testing required. All you have to do as a responsible citizen is get your vaccine and Hawaii is making it so much easier to visit.

My next test will be traveling inter-island. Hawaii is also no longer requiring testing for travel between the islands. I’ll report back on what that process is like. Now time to enjoy the lovely Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort and get some much-needed R&R (Stay tuned for a review).

We’ve covered the full run-down of what you need to know prior to visiting Hawaii here.

Featured image of the Kauai Sonesta hotel in January 2020 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.