Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
Southwest Airlines has announced that customers traveling to Hawaii from five of its California departure points are now able to get clearance to enter Hawaii before they depart for the islands. With document screening lines at the various Hawaiian airports often resembling lines for rides at a pre-pandemic theme park, this is good news for Southwest Airlines flyers.
Travel To Hawaii
Hawaii is one of the few states that has imposed significant travel restrictions on travelers wishing to visit the islands almost from the very beginning of the pandemic and a lot of the restrictions are still in place (e.g. anyone wishing to enter Hawaii has to quarantine for 10 days if they cannot provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before their departure to the islands).
The pre-departure COVID testing isn’t really an issue (it may be a chore and an added expense but the tests are readily available) but what can be a little irritating are the (often) long lines at Hawaii’s airports as visitors wait to have their documents checked before they’re allowed to enter the state.
United Airlines was the first US airline to address this issue when at the end of January, it announced that it was introducing a program that would allow flyers to be pre-cleared for entry into Hawaii before they depart the mainland. Now Southwest has followed suit and is offering its own version of that program.
Southwest’s Hawaii Pre-Clearance Program
Southwest has now said that customers who have uploaded an approved negative COVID-19 test result, all the required travel information, and completed a health questionnaire before departing the mainland may be eligible to bypass airport screening when arriving in Honolulu (Oahu) and Kahului (Maui)*.
Starting 90 minutes prior to departure, Southwest’s agents at the five California airports from which it offers nonstop service to the Hawaiian Islands – Oakland; San Jose; Sacramento; San Diego; and Long Beach, are now allowed to verify that a customer has correctly completed the State-of-Hawaii-approved profile and followed all the required procedures required by Hawaii’s Safe Travels program. I.e:
- They have updated and completed all their travel information including flight details for their initial flight segment into Hawaii, all lodging details for each traveler aged 18 or older in their traveling party (with younger travelers included in the profile of one parent);
- They have provided evidence of a valid, negative COVID-19 test result for each passenger in their party, taken within 72 hours of departure for Hawaii, obtained from a State-of-Hawaii-approved Trusted Travel Partner;
- They have completed the mandatory health questionnaire within their Safe Travels account.
Customers who successfully pass this pre-clearance process stand a very good chance of not having to have their documents checked upon arrival in the islands although, as the State of Hawaii reserves the right to re-screen or validate the screening of any passenger, nothing is guaranteed.
Southwest is offering the new service to customers who are either starting their journey in Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento San Diego, or Long Beach or who are connecting at these airports on their way to the Hawaiian Islands.
The airline hasn’t said how customers who have been pre-cleared will be differentiated from those who have not once they arrive in Hawaii, but based on what United Airlines is doing, I would assume that pre-cleared flyers will be given a wristband to wear which will be their “front of line” pass upon arrival.
Customers flying with Southwest Airlines to Hawaii are encouraged to visit Southwest.com/coronavirus/Hawaii to learn more about the requirements, procedures, and pre-departure testing options that they will need to be aware of before they travel.
*At the time of writing, Kauai is expected to rejoin Hawaii’s ‘Safe Travels’ program on 5 April so it’s possible that it will be added as a pre-clearance destination in the near future.
Southwest Airlines has rolled out a pre-clearance process for its customers traveling to Hawaii from Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento San Diego, and Long Beach. The process allows for flyers to have their compliance with Hawaii’s Safe Travels program verified before they depart for the islands and should therefore ensure that they will not have to endure any long lines for document verification when they land in Hawaii.