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Going to Hawaii? You Better Have a Negative COVID Test Before You Get On the Plane

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Heading to the Aloha State tomorrow or sometime thereafter? You’ll need a negative COVID-19 test in hand or uploaded to the state’s Safe Travels website before the flight to your Hawaiian destination.

Otherwise, it’s off to quarantine you go.

And you have to take the test and get results within 72 hours of departing for Hawaii. There are a bunch of major pharmacies and other testing locations that can help out. Here’s a list.

(It’s reportedly not the pesky tourists causing Hawaii’s COVID problems. The Honolulu Police Department says it’s the islanders themselves. And the HPD’s COVID unit has its own problems, too.)

Interestingly, Hawaii does not list Delta under its section of airlines that “understand the pre-travel testing requirements and are reliable sources of testing and for information as to testing options.” I find that particularly interesting because Delta is constantly touting its safety efforts. I’m curious if Delta and Hawaii have some sort of beef or what…

H/T Larry

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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5 Comments

    • No, as the Hawaii Covid-19 travel portal explains, it must be a negative NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test), such as a PCR test, and as this Rene’s Points post explains, it MUST BE specifically from one of Hawaii’s trusted travel partner labs listed on the site and MUST BE done no earlier than 72 hours than your final direct flight to Hawaii departs. Some of those labs also do other types of tests so make sure you get the one required. If you don’t have the results available when you arrive, you MUST quarantine for a full 14 days at your hotel, even if the results are available an hour after your arrival. The reported rate of false-negative results with Antigen tests is as high as 50%. These are the tests the White House has used and we all know how that ended up.

  1. No thanks, there are several Caribbean islands that have nicer beaches and cheaper accommodations than the Peoples Republic of Hawaii! I’ll take St. Maarten over Hawaii any day of the week!

  2. Aloha! Perhaps there are lessons from our recent testing experience that might prove helpful to other travelers. We were traveling to Hawaii and used a testing partner cited at the time on the Hawaii and the Alaska Airlines websites. The partner, although removed from the Hawaii site, is still listed on the Alaska Airlines website. Quest Diagnostics did not deliver our test results within their maximum estimated time, and we had to quarantine on arrival in Hawaii. The Quest website states that they will deliver test results within 2-3 days from sample pickup (which is within the 72 hour window that the test has to be administered before departure). The pharmacy where we did the testing in Vancouver WA confirmed that the sample was picked up by 6PM the evening we did the test, about three hours after our appointment.

    I fully expected our test results by the time we arrived (which was 72 hours from the time the test was picked up–and the longest estimated time that the Quest website said that we could expect results). Since the results were not available, we called a car and went straight to our lodging and into quarantine.

    When test results were still not delivered by late that evening, I called Quest. Although their patient help line shuts down at 4PM Pacific time, I did get someone on a health care provider help line who was willing to assist me. She asked pertinent details and claimed to have found our samples being run in Seattle and assured me that we would have results the following morning by 9AM. I asked about the time to produce our results, and her response was that the clock started when the samples were logged in on Saturday morning. So, first problem is that the website is misleading. Pick up time at the pharmacy is not the same as the time that the lab logs in a sample. Everyone I spoke with at Quest subsequently confirmed that the clock started at log in and not pick up, even though the web site states differently. That means that if Quest takes the maximum estimated time to deliver results (72 hours plus 15 hours in our case), they will not be available on arrival because the sample can’t be taken more than 72 hours before departure.

    The next morning—we still had no results. I called Quest again. I relayed the information that I received the previous evening. The customer service (ha!) agent with whom I spoke informed me that she could not find the information I received (i.e., that our samples were being processed and we should have had results that morning), and that the prior agent had no way of knowing what she told me. The new agent told me, essentially, to sit tight, that it was still the third day. What? It had been more than 72 hours even since the sample was logged in, and by anyone’s count that is surely more than three days. Except Quest’s. We were still in the third day. It is not acceptable that the customer service line can’t give the customer granular data about the time that results will be delivered.

    In the afternoon, before their patient line shut down for the day, I called back and asked to speak with a supervisor. After a few disclaimers, Mary was very helpful. She searched for our samples and called the lab where they were being processed. She called me back and told me when processing was going to be complete. She took our email addresses and promised to send the results there as soon as they were available. Interestingly she indicated that my sample was being processed 4-6 hours ahead of my spouse’s sample even though they were taken at the very same time. Mary encouraged me to call her cell phone if my results did not arrive. I sent her a text when they did, and she updated me on Allen’s results. His results were finally in about ten hours after mine.

    Except for the good fortune that we always stay in the same place and knew someone who volunteered to shop for us, I’m not sure how well we would have fared in quarantine. And had we been stuck in a hotel room without a kitchen or a view, or windows open to the surf…well it would have been a horrible 2 days. We are fortunate to have a beautiful place to stay that is just steps from the sea. So, except for the stress of not knowing if we would get our results, our experience wasn’t so bad.

    What was bad:
    Quest misrepresented the turn-around time for test results.
    Their website is misleading about when the clock starts.
    Their patient/customer service line does help set expectations for when to expect results, leaving the patient/customer completely in the dark.

    I have a couple of words of advice to anyone who needs a Covid-19 test for travel. First, plan early. Testing centers fill up their slots. We were stuck with Quest because there was a glitch in scheduling with a different test provider. They lost Allen’s appointment, although I could have been tested there. And second, read the fine print. Make sure that the test provider is obligating to fulfill your travel requirements. If it is not clear, then ask questions. I would ask to see written policy instead of taking an oral response as an answer. Now that the rules have changed for travel to Hawaii, no one will have to quarantine like we had to. But disruption in travel plans is distressing on either end of the journey.

    Good luck to everyone trying to find their way through the maze of requirements for travel these days. It’s worth it to us to be here. Hawaii is always lovely.

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