Flight to Hawaii During Covid, Traveling With Kids

What is it like to fly to Hawaii during covid-19; why anxious people might be frightened by it, and what Hawaii looks like during pandemic. Crowds

Do check local government rules and regulations before the flight to Hawaii during Covid-19.

Rules may be different between Hawaii islands.

Flight to Hawaii during Covid was very different and nervous from any of the flights we have taken before. It wasn’t because of the flight itself, but all the things you have to go through to land at the “Slice of Paradise”:

  • Mandatory pre-flight tests for Covid (what if one of us would get a positive result?!)
  • Risking the island will shut down for vacation travel, like Kauai in December 2020.
  • Possibility to lose the money spent on tests/tickets/car rental/accommodations at the last moment.
Flight to Hawaii During Covid: the most desirable moment of the trip, Kahului Airport
Flight to Hawaii during Covid, the most desirable moment of the trip: Kahului Airport

Flight to Hawaii During Covid: What’s going on at the airports


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport looked deserted when we were traveling through it (December 14th and 29th). Very few travelers and empty corridors:

SeaTac felt very strange. Corridors usually packed with people
SeaTac felt very strange. Usually it is packed with people

Our flight from Seattle to San Francisco had plenty of unoccupied seats on the plane:

We thought the plane was "packed" :D. Just wait till you see San Francisco!
The plane might seem “packed”. Just wait till San Francisco!

Some people were wearing what I called a triple defense: 2 masks and a face shield on top. Two ladies were with what our kids called “facial vacuum cleaner“. Unlike any of them, all the personnel we saw were wearing only a mask. We had only masks too.

San Francisco

Our flight to Maui, Hawaii had a layover at San Francisco. That was $150 cheaper (per person) than a direct flight. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was so much busier as if there was no pandemic at all:

Flight to Hawaii During Covid: San Francisco International Airport
Flight to Hawaii During Covid: San Francisco International Airport

Many cafes, restaurants, shops, nursing rooms in SFO were closed just like in Seattle.

Our flights from/to SFO were packed full till the very last “unhappy” row (next to lavatories at the back of the plane). There were plenty of kids onboard, all in masks, except the little ones (under 2 y.o.).

Flight to Hawaii during Covid: our trio
Flight to Hawaii during Covid: our trio

No hot lunch on a 5.5-hour-long flight

Our last flight was 1.5 years ago from Frankfurt to Seattle. And we almost forgot that there is no such a thing as “hot lunch” on domestic flights within the US. Even on the 5.5-hour-long haul to Hawaii or other far-flung destinations.

On the picture below: food provided on a plane: 2 cookies, a handful of pretzels, and a small bottle of water:

Flying with United airlines
Flying with United airlines: unlimited drinks and some snacks

Anxious people, beware

We brought a pack of Clorox wipes on the flights to Hawaii during Covid and were wiping tables and chairs, trying to keep the distance, but still… Kids are kids: they would roll on the floor, hold rails, etc.

Maui, Hawaii wasn’t an empty place either. There were plenty of people, although less than usual for a peak season. Parking was easier than during previous, “before Covid” trips, but most mornings we were leaving relatively early (8-9 am) to get a spot.

The busiest places on Maui were along Road to Hana, beaches at large hotels (on the picture below), and Costco, of course. 😀

Black Rock Beach, Ka'anapali, Maui
Black Rock Beach, Ka’anapali, Maui

Flight to Hawaii during Covid: Believe it or not

All planes are sanitized prior to boarding passengers and antibacterial napkins are handed over to you when entering a plane.

Aboard United Airlines, you are presented with a very persuasive video telling you that “the cabin of an aircraft is one of the [COVID-19-]safest indoor environments in the world”:

Looking for a safe from Covid-19 place? Head for the plane

5 essentials on a flight during the pandemic

After lots of hand washing, using sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, hand lotion was never so valuable as during the “Corona” flights. As well as extra masks, snacks, and entertainment for kids: many stores, cafes, and play areas remain closed at the airports during the pandemic:

SeaTac Airport play area: CLOSED
SeaTac Airport play area: CLOSED

Flight to Hawaii During Covid. Arriving at Maui, Dec. 2020

Entering Hawaii: temperature check upon arrival at the Kahului Airport (OGG):

Then would checking our paper for confirming negative test
Then would be checking papers for confirming negative test

Part of the waiting area at the Maui airport was transformed into dozen checkpoints like the one in the picture below:

For some reason browser with submitted tests results wasn’t working

All you need to know about traveling to Maui during Covid-19:

Keep Maui safe
Keep Maui safe!

What Hawaii looked like during Covid-19. Maui, December 14-29th


While we expected “almost empty” Hawaii, the reality was far from that 😀. Local Costco, our lifesaver, was looking like the one in Seattle: busy regardless the time or day of the week:

Lines at the checkout, Costco at Maui
Lines at the checkout, Costco at Maui

Very few beaches were empty. And some have much more visitors than others: near big hotels and popular snorkeling spots. Time of the day also played the role: 8 to 11 am was the “slowest”.

Almost 12 am, people keep coming up. Ulua beach, Maui
Almost 12 am, people keep coming up. Ulua beach, Maui


Despite our little ones (3 and 6 y.o.) felt very limited at the airports with the constant “don’t go there”, “don’t touch it”, “don’t sit here”, and days before the trip was very nervous, we are glad we made it! After months in lockdown, with an online school, etc., this trip was like a breath of fresh air.

Hawaii is beautiful and fragile, take care of it. Don’t step on corals, take them home, and don’t harass honu for a perfect sea turtle selfie. And, please, use only mineral sunscreen.

Hawaii on a budget 2021. Save on a Trip During Pandemic

Big Island of Hawaii: top things to do in 2021. Hawaiian volcanoes: where and what to look for. Lava flow, secret lava tube bath, etc.

P.S. Movies and Book About Hawaii

If you love movies as much as we do, there are 4 we liked a lot about Hawaii:

"The Descendants". photo credit: wikipedia
“The Descendants”. photo credit: wikipedia

“The Descendants” (2011). The movie based on a great novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and featuring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. While many people picture Hawaii as paradise (us too), the real life on the islands goes on, and sometimes far from being perfect. IMDb 7.3

“Soul Surfer” (2011) is a heartwarming movie based on the story of Bethany Meilani Hamilton. Born and raised in Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany was 13 y/o when a shark bit off her left hand.

"Soul Surfer", photo credit: wikipedia
“Soul Surfer”, photo credit: wikipedia

Being a professional surfer, tough and resilient, she returned to professional sport just 26 days after the attack. IMDb 7.0

“Lilo & Stitch” (IMDb 7.2) and “Moana” (IMDb 7.6) are the best movies to watch with kids and imagine Hawaii now and in the past.

Thanks for reading friends!

By Mrs. Grazy Goat

I am Ira, the author behind Grazy Goat. My husband and I run this blog and share our experiences about thrilling places and cultures. Our son Artem recently joined us and helps with editing.

We are very happy to have YOU here 😻

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