Travelers rush to Hawaii amid raging wildfires
Devastating wildfires in the Hawaiian Islands, along with massive communication gaps caused by service disruptions, have left many travelers struggling to leave hard-hit Maui or reschedule travel plans in imminent limbo.
State officials have been working with hotels and a local airline to try to evacuate tourists from Maui to another island, Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Locke told CNN Wednesday morning. But the communications outage hampered efforts to reach the entire world.
Kahului Airport in Maui is open, the Hawaii Department of Transportation posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. HDOT urged patience at the airport and also provided details on how to reach the airport via a circular route.
Ed Sneven, director of the Hawaii State Department of Transportation, said Wednesday at a news conference that non-essential travel to Maui is discouraged.
Travel consultant Jim Bendt said Pique Travel Design is advising clients traveling to Maui in the coming week to reschedule their flights to “help ease the load on local infrastructure.”
It said Pique Travel would work with its partners on the island to waive or reduce cancellation and change fees.
Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines offer travel waivers to Maui that allow passengers to change plans without penalty.
“Passengers with non-urgent questions about their flight are encouraged to call back later so we can assist those with immediate needs,” Hawaiian Airlines posted on the X social platform, formerly known as Twitter. The airline urged passengers to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.
Bendt said that travelers who plan to visit islands other than Maui will not have to change their plans.
“Hotels and flights are running as usual,” he said.
As for the future of Maui travel, he’ll have to wait.
says Scott Keyes, founder of travel website Going.com.
Keyes said there was “no added benefit to canceling a flight a few weeks in advance as opposed to a few days.”