“It’s a 13-hour trip, so they have a captive audience for that long and still don’t prepare you for what you get when you land,” she said. “It was mayhem at the airport.”
She said people were separated into different lines: one for residents; another for visitors, which then split into separate lines for vaccinated travelers and unvaccinated travelers. She saw that many travelers had not completed parts of the onboarding process, which is supposed to be done before boarding the flight: answering a questionnaire about their health in the 24-hour period before flying or uploading their test results to the Safe Travel site. Stopping the line while they completed those steps led to delays for everyone, she said.
Those charged with checking traveler credentials seemed irritated with travelers and travelers seemed irritated with them, Ms. Flagg said.
For the people who do make it out of the airport, there is still a chance of having to quarantine.
Betsy Blair, a health psychologist who lives in Milwaukee, traveled to Hawaii with her wife this month. The couple prepared their documents, got a negative test from a state-approved test provider and headed to Hawaii. They flew into Kona on the Big Island without hassle, then to Maui for a few nights and then to Hilo, back on the Big Island. Ms. Blair said that she repeatedly asked people at her hotel in Maui if she and her wife would need a test to get back to the Big Island, but were told they would not.
“Between scouring the website and asking people we thought would know the rules, we went to Hilo,” she said. They were promptly quarantined, though they were allowed to sit things out at their Airbnb. Making matters worse, their car rental was immediately canceled because the quarantine and reservation information is connected in the state’s Safe Travels app.
The state’s Tourism Authority said that Hawaii’s rental car fleet decreased by more than 40 percent during the pandemic because many car companies sold off their cars. Janice Berman, who recently traveled to Maui, said she got quoted a price of $3,000 to rent a car for 12 days.
The cost of ride shares with services including Uber and Lyft is also extremely high. The Tourism Authority is urging travelers to use other modes of transportation to navigate the islands.