Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hawaiian Airline addresses concerns about flights to Big Island in wake of Kilauea eruptions

Important reading for anyone planning on flying to Hawaii

Patti Pietschmann

Courtesy Hawaiian Airlines

Like the airlines like to say when they thank passengers for using their company,  "we know you have a lot of choices for flying,"  and you do when it comes to getting from the Mainland to the Hawaii. We go to Maui twice a year or more and alternate between Delta and Hawaiian for a few reasons. One is that they both operate convenient nonstop flights from Los Angeles. Our main reason for booking  Hawaiian however is its First Class lie  flat seats which are so heavenly comfy especially when flying back and just want to recline and relax. Both airlines provide good inflight service, most of the time and edible meals in First Class.

view from my Delta seat en route to Maui

Hawaiian also services the Big Island where, as you probably know, Kilauea has been erupting violently,destroying many homes, spewing toxic fumes, ashes and lava everywhere. So a lot of would be visitors are concerned for their safety. Because of that and cancellations, Hawaiian has issued the following assurance and answers to many travelers questions.

Have Hawaiian Airlines flights been impacted by the recent Kīlauea eruptions?
Our scheduled flights are operating normally, including all interisland flights, our once-daily, non-stop flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Kona, and our three times a week service between Haneda and Kona.
 Is flying in and out of Hilo International Airport (ITO) and Kona International Airport (KOA) still safe?
“Safety is our primary concern, and the flight activity that is currently underway is completely safe,” shared Ken Rewick, Hawaiian’s vice president of flight operations. “We are extremely conservative when it comes to flight operations and we monitor conditions on an ongoing basis.”
  • Operations at KOA – which is approximately 100 miles from Kīlauea – remain normal as the west coast of the island is unaffected. However, guests with respiratory disorders are advised to monitor air quality readings due to the regular presence of vog (volcanic fog).
  • ITO also remains open for business. The airport is roughly 30 miles from Kīlauea and has not been affected by the recent volcanic activity. Our airport team is in contact with state and federal agencies monitoring air quality for any potential health hazards.
Reid Shigeoka, Hawaiian’s senior manager of ITO and KOA airport operations, says both airports are working diligently to answer guests’ questions and to ensure they are aware of resources available to them. “However, we have noticed that many of our guests have taken the initiative to educate themselves prior to their trip, and have already adjusted any affected plans,” he said.
Take a walk in the shoes of two Hawaiian Airlines employees on the ground in Hilo and learn about their experiences during the latest Kīlauea eruption. Click here to read our recent post “Kīlauea 101: Kama‘āina Q&A.”

How can I adjust my current travel reservation?
Hawaiian offered a flight change fee waiver from May 3 through June 10 to provide immediate flexibility to guests who booked their travel to Hilo or Kona prior to the recent eruption activity. We’ve resumed our normal fare rules. If you have questions about your upcoming trip, please contact our Reservations Department at 1-800-367-5320.
Guests are advised to check for the latest updates on scheduled flights.

How is Hawaiian Airlines supporting residents and employees on the Island of Hawai‘i?
We are deeply saddened by the immense loss being experienced by so many of our Puna neighbors. We have been closely monitoring the situation on the ground to determine how Hawaiian can best support displaced Puna residents – some of whom are our own employees.
We have and will continue to provide assistance to agencies and organizations leading relief efforts on the Island of Hawai‘i. A snapshot of our involvement includes:
  • Monetary donations
  • Flights for first responders temporarily relocating to the Island
  • Shipments of food, water, and medical supplies for the Red Cross and Salvation Army
  • Distribution of various goods, including food and water
  • Team Kōkua volunteers providing boots-on-the-ground assistance at local shelters
We will continue to rely on the organizations managing the shelters and support services to identify individual cases where we can provide additional assistance.

How can I stay updated with the latest alerts during my trip?
Those planning a trip to the Island of Hawai‘i who have questions can contact the Hawai‘i Tourism United States Call Center at 1-800-GO-HAWAII (1-800-464-2924).
To learn more about the Kīlauea eruption, including alerts and updates, visit:
For real-time updates on environmental conditions, visit:

What areas should I avoid, and where do you recommend I visit instead?
Visitors should avoid hazardous areas close to the lava activity within the Puna district. (See map below)
Being the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, the Island of Hawai‘i offers visitors a lot of ground to explore outside of the affected areas. If you’re looking to adjust your plans, we highly recommend building your itinerary using our Insider Guides, created by kama‘āina for a truly local experience, or by visiting the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority website.
We also recommend using #ExploreIslandofHawaii on InstagramTwitter and Facebook before, during and after your tropical adventure!
Pocket Map Big Island May 2018