Advisors in demand to help visitors to Hawaii navigate entry rules

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Advisors in demand to help visitors to Hawaii navigate entry rules

Hawaii's Safe Travels Covid-19 screening program has had its hiccups. Rules were in flux right up to the Oct. 15 launch and continued to change in the

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Hawaii’s Safe Travels Covid-19 screening program has had its hiccups. Rules were in flux right up to the Oct. 15 launch and continued to change in the weeks that followed. The first few days included long lines at airports and bouts of confusion. Kauai was in, then out, then back in again as of April 5.

Now, more than five months into Safe Travels, the early tumult has dissipated, and infection levels — which never skyrocketed in the state — continue to fall. 

Hawaii specialists like Gail Stringer of HGS Travel in Seattle say travel advisors have been kept busy the past few months by travelers wanting to tap into their knowledge of the Islands. 

“We’ve gotten a bunch of people that wouldn’t normally use an agent but don’t want the headache of dealing with the tests and scheduling themselves,” Stringer said. 

Currently, Hawaii requires travelers age 5 and older to take a Covid-19 test from a trusted partner within 72 hours of departure to Hawaii. Visitors must upload negative results to their Safe Travels profile prior to departing for the Islands or must self-quarantine for 10 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.

Testing costs are falling, and some new programs to facilitate the process launched in February as airlines and other travel providers continue to augment their services. The following are some Safe Travels-approved programs. 

Clear Health Pass: The free mobile app from the biometric ID platform provides a list of testing sites and at-home testing options, and results are connected automatically to the user’s Clear account. Those with verified negative Covid test results at boarding are screened and given a pre-clearance bracelet, allowing them to skip arrival processing in Hawaii. 

Hawaiian Airlines: The carrier offers all passengers an at-home saliva tests with Vault for $119, and drive-thru testing is available in a handful of western U.S. cities for $90. Passengers can pay for tests using HawaiianMiles loyalty points. Hawaiian also screens passengers and provides preclearance wristbands at boarding.

Alaska Airlines: Alaska offers two main testing options: in-person on the West Coast with Carbon Health, with prices ranging from $170 to $185, or an at-home Costco test kit for $118.99. There are also testing sites inside Portland and San Diego airports. Alaska Airlines guests are also now able to preclear at the departure gate and bypass airport screening upon arrival.

United: United travelers heading from San Francisco to Hawaii have two options: a day-of-travel test in the airport at the Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care facility for $250 or a drive-thru test 72 hours before traveling for $105. United is also offering at-home, mail-in tests and pre-clearance on many Hawaii-bound flights. 

Southwest: Hawaii-bound passengers on Southwest get priority access to $20 tests from CityHealth Urgent Care testing sites at Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose airports.

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