Safe Travel To Honolulu: A Simple Guide To Testing, Masks, and Quarantine

It’s been a year since the COVID-19 virus locked our worlds down. Now, the vaccine has made its way into the veins of many, cases are down, restaurants and bars are opening again, daylight savings time is in effect, and people want to travel. Traveling between states on the US Mainland is pretty much same ole, same ole plus mask wearing. Getting to Honolulu is a different story and navigating the government websites is same ole, same ole. It’s just as difficult as trying to pay your car registration, get married, and do I dare say – file for unemployment. (Insert the teeth bearing emoji here). After having just done it and as I prepare for my second trip to the mainland in under a month, I thought I’d break it down for you since it’s fresh in my mind. Hopefully it saves you a little time and frustration.

First, let’s talk about what’s different on the airplane. It’s standard across all airports and all airlines that masks are required. Alaska Airlines didn’t serve any food except for a cheese plate that you must order ahead of time. Otherwise, you’re not eating for the duration of the flight. The redeye between Honolulu and Seattle consisted of only 1 beverage service. My second flight between Seattle and Kansas City, MO was a morning flight and they served coffee and Biscoff cookies (my fave!). My mom and I sipped our coffees and talked story like two friends who hadn’t seen each other all year and then, the flight attendant came on the PA saying, “Ladies and gentleman, we’d like to remind you that as you enjoy your coffee, take a sip, put your mask back on. Take a sip, put your mask back on. Let’s protect each other.” Well shucks. So much for coffee talk. I later heard Hawaiian Airlines allows masks off during active eating and drinking. A friend of mine said, “Well, I guess I’ll just eat the whole flight.” Then again, Hawaii local people are known to fill our bags with snacks and do that anyway, so no change there. I will say this, I thought I was gonna hate wearing a mask on the plane, but I actually felt very comfortable. Wanna know why? I’m an open mouth sleeper. That redeye with a mask was the most restful overnight flight ever! My eyes shut, my head went back, and my mouth went open. I didn’t worry for a second that I might be breathing fire in the face of the person next to me. Also, my lips didn’t get chapped from breathing that cold, dry air and it kept my face warm. One other thing I quite enjoyed about COVID airplane travel: I paid $99 to upgrade my seat to premium class on Alaska Airlines. Not only do you get free drinks and extra legroom, but the middle seat is left open for extra social distancing. I don’t think they’re gonna do this forever, but I wish they would.

What’s a favorite mask for travel and otherwise? This one: Athleta Cloth Mask.

Let’s talk quarantine. I’m not incredibly well versed in this subject, but it’s my understanding that if you don’t get your negative test result prior to the departure of your last leg of travel, you must quarantine for 10 days. If you receive your negative test in the air or even a couple of days later, you don’t get to shave off those days. No test, no negative result, no go anywhere. Period.

Finally, let’s talk travel testing. If you Google “Hawaii travel testing” it will get you nowhere. God forbid you land on the State of Hawaii site which you have to dig through to finally get to the Safe Travels portal. I present to you, the magic link below. You’re welcome.

Click on the image to take you to the Safe Travels Portal

A few tips for you.

  1. Create your profile in advance. I did it from my phone and later found it to be much easier from a desktop for my husband. At the same time, you will use your phone to generate a QR code before boarding your flight to Honolulu, so pick whatever’s easiest. It will require you to create a password, so make sure you remember it.
  2. You’ll need your driver’s license, passport, or whatever official ID you use to travel as it will require you to input the ID number.
  3. Make sure your name is the same spelling and punctuation as what’s on your airline reservation.
  4. Wives, we do these things for our family, but it really is best that each person does it themself especially because they’ll be required to generate their own QR code on their own mobile device. C’mon hubbies. You got this!
  5. Enter your trip information in the TRIPS section. You’ll need all the departure and arrival information (flight number, time, airline, etc).
  6. Travel Testing: this gets tricky and once again, the information is tough to find. Below is a list of US Mainland approved providers. I used Walgreens on my way back from Missouri. The process is, you locate a provider in your area via the web. When you get to their site, you scroll until you find something that references COVID-19 testing. Walgreens requires an online registration. Again, make sure your name is the same as what’s on your travel registration.
    • American Family Care (AFC)+
    • American Samoa Department of Health+
    • Atlas Genomics+
    • Capstone Clinic+
    • Carbon Health
    • CityHealth Urgent Care
    • Clarity Lab Solutions+
    • CLEAR (ONLY Delta DL 480 and United UA 1158 flights from LAX)
    • Color
    • Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation+
    • Costco/AZOVA+
    • CVS Health (ONLY www.cvs.com/selfpaytesting, not a different CVS website or walk-in)
    • Discovery Health MD
    • DLS Guam
    • Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services
    • GoHealth Urgent Care*+
    • Kaiser Permanente (members only)University Medical Center of Southern Nevada+
    • UC San Diego Health
    • University of Washington Medicine+
    • Vault Health
    • Walgreens
    • WestPac Labs+
    • XpresCheck+
  7. Make an appointment for your pre-travel test 72 hours prior to the departure time of your last leg of travel to Honolulu. I left Missouri on Saturday afternoon. I tested on Friday morning at 9am. This was a little stressful as I didn’t get the results until I landed in Seattle. They’re supposed to get the results to you within 24 hours (if you choose that particular test, but it took a little over 24 hours). Also, test appointments aren’t the easiest to get. I recommend getting on it as soon as you get to your destination.
  8. The test: it’s easy. They give you the swab. You stick it in your nose and swirl it around for 15 seconds, place it in the vial (cotton side down), and return it to the pharmacy tech in the prescribed package. It was also free which I haven’t quite figured out why. I think it’s because I designated who my insurance provider is, but they didn’t ask me for my medical card so….I don’t know. Sorry.
  9. Then…you wait and you wonder if you have the virus, and then you pray you don’t have it, and you pray the results get to you in time. So much stress! Breathe.
  10. HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE: You need to complete this 24 hours prior to departure. This is where that QR code is generated which you will share with the airline personnel.
  11. Results: they’re delivered via email and you’ll get a text alert that your results are in. Hallelujah! Download the results and upload to DOCUMENTS. It’s surprisingly very easy. The QR code links to your profile and the airline personnel will be able to access your results. You can, however, show the actual test results as well.
  12. The following airports offer the Pre-Clear Program at the gate. This allows you to show the QR code and get a wrist band which gets you past the yelling Honolulu personnel upon arrival (sorry, but it’s true. I wish our Honolulu airport people were nicer). If you don’t have the wrist band, apparently there’s a line you have to stand in to get cleared to leave the airport.
    • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – Available starting April 22
    • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
    • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) 
    • Long Beach Airport (LGB)
    • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 
    • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
    • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
    • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
    • Ontario International Airport (ONT)
    • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
    • Phoenix International Airport (PHX)
    • Portland International Airport (PDX)
    • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
    • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
    • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  13. Once you land in Honolulu, show your wrist band and you’re on your way! Honolulu takes COVID-19 very seriously, so be ready to wear your masks, wash your hands, and watch your distance, but you can have coffee talk. No need to sip and put your mask back on. Safe travels and aloha!


2 thoughts on “Safe Travel To Honolulu: A Simple Guide To Testing, Masks, and Quarantine

  1. Kat Uyemura Reply

    Thank you Maila!
    We’ll be going back to Arizona end of next month to help my son pack up for college. I know A LOT has changed since we flew him up in August!
    I appreciate the break down of everything!!

    1. mailagibsonadmin Reply

      You’re so welcome! I’m glad you find it useful. If anything changes, I’ll be sure to update.

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