Hawaiian Airlines Begins Offering Quarantine Free Travel From Japan

In a welcome bit of news for Hawaii’s beleaguered airlines and tourism industry, qualified passengers flying Hawaiian Airlines from Tokyo Narita can now skip Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine and health screening procedures upon arrival in Honolulu.

Hawaii’s Pre-Clear Program rolled out in Tokyo on the weekend. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines 

Hawaiian Airlines rolls out the Pre-Clear Program in Tokyo

Beginning last weekend, Hawaiian Airlines passengers out of Narita who use Hawaii’s Pre-Clear Program and meet its requirements can now avoid a 10-day quarantine after arriving in Hawaii. On Thursday, Hawaiian Airlines will start checking-in Pre-Clear passengers at Kansai International Airport in Osaka. On Friday, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport will join the club.

“Expanding our Pre-Clear Program to Japan and South Korea simplifies the travel experience for our international guests,” says Hawaiian Airlines’ Theo Panagiotoulias.

“We look forward to working with the State of Hawai‘i to expand the program to more markets and to continue building back travel to Hawai‘i in a way that is safe for visitors and our community.”

Participating in the Pre-Clear Program will provide a smoother, quarantine-free, arrival in Hawaii. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

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Tokyo Narita the first international airport to process Pre-Clear Program passengers

The state of Hawaii runs the Pre-Clear Program. Participation allows inbound travelers to skip quarantine on arrival in Hawaii if they take a COVID-19 test (and return a negative result) from an approved provider with 72 hours of travel. Participation in the program also means travelers can skip the often long waits for on-arrival health screening in Hawaii.

To date, 16 airports in the mainland United States cater for Pre-Clear Program passengers. But Tokyo’s Narita Airport is the first international airport to join. Upon checking-in, Hawaiian Airlines staff will ensure all documentation and information is included and the passenger is good to fly.

While it appears to be a step towards normality again, it is perhaps a step towards the new normal for international travel. And there are a couple of more boxes a prospective traveler to Hawaii needs to tick before they can skip quarantine.

The state of Hawaii also has what it calls the Safe Travels App. A traveler to Hawaii will need to download the app and complete an online form that asks for flight and accommodation information. There are also questions about your health status and any recent travels. You’ll also need to upload the COVID-19 test result to the app. If you’ve got all that done and are flying out from one of the designated airlines on a Hawaiian Airlines flight, your arrival at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be just like old times.

The rollout of the Pre-Clear Program in Japan will be welcomed at Hawaiian Airlines. Photo: Vincenzo Pace / Simple Flying

Welcome news for Hawaiian Airlines and the Hawaiian tourism industry

The expansion of the Pre-Clear Program to international airports will be good news for Hawaiian Airlines and the wider Hawaiian tourism industry. Before the travel downturn in 2020, over 10 million people traveled to Hawaii in 2019, kicking in US$17.75 billion to the local economy. Japan was Hawaii’s biggest international market, with some 1.6 million Japanese travelers landing in 2019. However, by late last year, the normally humming air corridors between Hawaii and Japan were down to just a handful of monthly flights.

The million-dollar question is, will the lifting of quarantine restrictions encourage Japanese travelers to head back to Hawaii? The airlines that normally fly between Hawaii and Japan will certainly be hoping so.

What do you think? Will rolling out the Pre-Clear Program across airports in Japan and South Korea get people traveling to Hawaii again? Will it help bolster Hawaiian Airlines’ fortunes? Post a comment and let us know.