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

July 16, 2021
7 min read
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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.

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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.

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.

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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)

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.

(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.)

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. (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 by (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023