Sunday, July 14, 2024

Airlines Are Stepping Up To Help With Travel Re-bookings And Relief Efforts After Destructive Hawaii Wildfires

All travelers are currently being asked to avoid travel to Maui in the Hawaiian Islands after the devastating fire that has taken the lives of 99 people as of this morning. We know that it can be tough to navigate changes to travel plans but several airlines have stepped up to offer easy booking changes. Many airlines are also helping with the relief efforts on the islands with evacuation and delivery of supplies.

In response to the Maui fires, some airlines are adding more flights to help passengers evacuate. Alaska AirlinesAmerican AirlinesHawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines have ramped up their outbound services, according to CNBC and a local news report.

In the latest update from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 46,000 residents and visitors have already been flown off the island since the fires began last week. If you have a flight to Maui booked in August, you are encouraged to contact your airline and revise your travel plans. The airlines are prioritizing bookings through the end of August first.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has instituted a flexible travel policy for guests who would like to change or cancel flights to/from Maui. Currently, they are processing changes if your ticket was purchased prior to Aug. 11, 2023, and your plans are between today and August 31.

American Airlines

American Airlines passengers can change their flights to, through or from Kahului Airport (OGG) at no cost for tickets bought by Aug. 9 for travel originally scheduled through Aug. 18.

New flights must be booked for travel between Aug. 9 and 25 for the same cabin and origin/destination cities. Alternatively, passengers can cancel their originally scheduled trips and request a refund. This only applies to flight changes made by Aug. 18 for travel completed within one year of the original ticket date.

Delta Air Lines

Delta has issued a change policy specific to flights in or out of Kahului Airport (OGG). When rebooked travel occurs on or before Aug. 31, 2023, in the same cabin of service as originally booked, the fare difference will be waived. A fare difference may apply when the waiver is class-to-class restrictive and the original booking class is not maintained in the rebooked itinerary. There are additional conditions and restrictions listed to be aware of.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines travelers can reschedule their flights at no cost for flights in and out of Kahului Airport (OGG) between Aug. 9 and 31 local time to new dates with no change fees or fare difference on the same city pair for travel and same cabin of service.

Tickets can be booked for new travel to/from the following airports: Kahului Airport (OGG), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA), Hilo International Airport (ITO), Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and Lihue Airport (LIH). However, tickets must be rebooked into the same compartment (Main Cabin or Business Cabin) by Sept. 1, 2023, and travel must recommence by Oct. 31, 2023.

Alternatively, these travelers can cancel their flights in exchange for a future flight credit, expiring one year from the original date of purchase. Those with flights booked to/from Kahului Airport (OGG) between Aug. 9 and 31 can also request a refund.

Hawaiian has increased the number of flights overnight to help people get off the island. Hawaiian’s CEO, Peter Ingram, announced that the airline is offering reduced $19 Main Cabin fares out of Maui to facilitate urgent travel needs, as reported by local news.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines customers with reservations to, from or through Kahului Airport (OGG) between Aug. 9 and Sept. 4 can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby for free, so long as the new travel lies within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs.

Additionally, these customers can change their original departure or arrival flight to any of the below Hawaii airports without charge:

  • Hilo International Airport (ITO)
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
  • Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA)
  • Lihue Airport (LIH)

United Airlines

United Airlines is allowing travelers to reschedule trips and will waive change fees and fare differences for trips originally scheduled into Maui through Sept. 16, 2023. You can then alter your plans to travel by Nov. 18, 2023, at no additional cost to one of these airports:

  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
  • Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA)
  • Lihue Airport (LIH)

If your new trip is after Aug. 31, 2023, or is to a different destination, United will still waive any change fees, but you might have to pay a fare difference depending on the flight. Alternatively, if you cancel or don’t take your trip, you can request a full refund.

How Can You Help?

There have been huge outpourings of assistance and care for those affected by the fires. A few well-known and trusted organizations have been fundraising in order to help. We highly suggest that if you’ve benefited from Maui in some way in your lifetime that you consider making a donation in this extreme time of need. As always, be sure to do your due diligence to avoid scammers before making any donations, especially if they are hosted by individuals and not trusted organizations.

Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund
Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement Kāko‘o Maui Fund
Maui Food Bank
Maui Humane Society

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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