Hawaii Travel Increases With Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine

Lily Washburn, News Feature

Crowds of travelers move through the security line at the Daniel K Inouye International Airport on April 1 hustling towards their next destination. Markings on the ground space out individuals and groups six feet apart. Various signs in bold text read: Mask Required. 

Travel during the pandemic has been a huge safety concern for many, but with the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines now being widely administered, travel rates are on the rise.

Sam Washburn points to his N-95 mask as he waits in the baggage line at the Daniel K Inouye International Airport on April 1, 2021. On flights, passengers are required to wear their masks at all times. Passengers may only remove their masks to eat or drink for short periods of time, according to CDC guidelines. Photo and caption by Lily Washburn.

Spring Break showed a significant increase in travel to the islands. During the first week of April, over 150,000 people arrived in Hawaii, according to the daily trans-Pacific arrival tracker provided by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

This is hopeful news for airport workers and staff like flight attendant Shannon Cho, whose job was impacted “very seriously” by the pandemic.

“I lost my job [from] last October until February,” Cho explained.

Cho has been working as a flight attendant for 14 years. She was just recently able to return to work again in March, thanks to government funding.

“Until September, we’ll see the government funding continue, otherwise I’ll be off job again,” Cho said.

Bryce Prius, a flight attendant of 26 years, had a similar experience. He explained that the pandemic forced him to work part-time for three months.

Prius and Cho have both noticed travel increasing as the availability of COVID-19 vaccines increases.

“If we were doing 20% of the capacity [of the plane], we’re now at 90%,” Prius stated.

Emilani Crow shows an attendant her negative COVID-19 test result before boarding her returning flight to Hawaii from San Francisco on April 6, 2021. Travelers returning to Hawaii must have a negative test result taken within 72 hours or they are required to complete a 10-day self-quarantine upon their arrival. Photo and caption by Lily Washburn.

Prius added that with vaccinations on the rise, travel is becoming even safer. He received his first shot recently. 

“I feel like we’ve always known that [in] big aircrafts the filtration is good,” Prius said. “The mask-wearing I’m confident in, and I think more and more people are getting vaccinated.”

In terms of his advice for travelers, Prius’ response was short and to the point:

“Get vaccinated.”