Easy, breezy, beautiful: What it’s like traveling to Hawaii while vaccinated
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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.
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.
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.
You’ll click on the “Exemption/Exception from Quarantine” page next and upload your documents.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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!
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.
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