LIHU‘E — Tuesday was the first day for residents to travel interisland without being quarantined, and at Lihu‘e Airport three women from O‘ahu took the opportunity to fly over to Kaua‘i and pick up new, furry family members.
“We came to pick up our puppies that have been waiting for us,” said O‘ahu resident June Rae, cuddling one of the three-week-old red toy poodles alongside traveling companions Mani Woo and Christina Martinovic.
The trio has been waiting to pick up the puppies until quarantine was lifted. They said the dogs were about $2,000 each, bought through Kaua‘i-based John Burgess, owner of Hawaiian Xotix Toy Poodles and Yorkies.
Rae said the three were planning to fly back to O‘ahu on a return trip later in the day, and said the interisland process was fairly smooth to navigate. The main challenge they faced was keeping their masks on.
Rae said they downloaded the newly-required inter-island travel forms ahead of time, which helped streamline the pre-boarding process. Planning ahead, they said, was the key to smooth travel.
“When you first arrive the National Guard will go ahead and take your temperature, and we go through a line. Then you go to the person who is going to collect those forms, and they just review it to make sure it’s signed,” said Maritnovic.
Rae said she even brought onto the flight a small spray bottle of hand sanitizer and “they didn’t say anything to me.”
Martinovic, Woo and Rae said they noticed the flight from O‘ahu to Kaua‘i was “pretty full.”
“I didn’t feel like there was much social distancing on the plane,” Martinovic said.
Rae added: “Yeah, there were people next to you if you were seated on the two-seater side.”
Martinovic said Hawaiian Airlines staff was very welcoming and happy to see customers.
Sheleah Watson also arrived on Kaua‘i on an O‘ahu flight on Tuesday morning, traveling with her kids. Watson works at Barking Sands on the Westside of Kaua‘i, and was traveling for work. She said her flight was fairly empty, with chairs in between passengers.
“When traveling with kids, (that) helps,” she said, expressing her gratitude for the resumption of interisland flights. “I’m glad they are opening it between the islands. I think it makes sense. I’m here for work. I work at the end of Barking Sands.”
Watson said the process was easier than she thought it would be, especially if passengers plan ahead, fill forms out before arriving at the airport and follow the rules.
Hawaiian Airlines’s Senior Specialist for External Communications Marissa Villegas said Hawaiian Airlines is excited to greet residents once again.
“We are thrilled to be able to reconnect kama‘aina with their family and friends and give them the opportunity to take a much-needed staycation on a Neighbor Island,” said Villegas. “Given Hawai‘i’s success in managing the spread of COVID-19, we believe that neighbor island travel will help stimulate economic activity across the state and serve as a critical indicator in the phased reopening of Hawai‘i.”
According to Hawaiian Airlines, they want their guests to feel confident traveling to, from and between the islands, and they want Hawai‘i residents on every island to feel comfortable accepting travelers.
Villegas said that, “During this time, we have adopted numerous measures throughout our operations to protect the health of our employees and guests and give travelers peace of mind, including frequent cleaning and disinfecting of our airport spaces and aircraft, electrostatic spraying of cabins, check-in, boarding, seating and deplaning procedures to increase personal space, encouraging travelers to check-in via our mobile app, and requiring employees and guests to wear a face covering (except for young children and those unable to do so due to a medical condition).”
“We’ve also capped our main cabin load factors at 70%, and blocked all middle seats to ensure our guests and crew-members have more personal space,” said Villegas.
“I recommend you review our ‘Keeping You Safe’ webpage to learn how we have adjusted our operations so the community may continue to enjoy safe and reliable transportation: hawaiianairlines.com/KeepingYouSafe,” said Villegas.
Villegas said Hawaiian Airlines is encouraged by brisk booking activity since the state announced it would remove the interisland quarantine effective Tuesday.
“As of today, we have increased frequencies on all of our neighbor island routes, ranging from seven to up to 11 daily round trips per market, based on demand, and will continue to adjust as needed,” said Villegas.
To download the newly-required interisland travel form, visit: health.hawaii.gov/travel.
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.