Welcome back to the second chapter of my Hawaiian travelogue. Here’s where we are:
- Returning to Molokai Starts With My First Flight in the United Polaris Seat
- Entering Hawai’i Remains a Terrible and Disorganized Process
- Every Route is the Scenic Route Going To and From Molokai
- Three Quiet Nights at the Hotel Moloka’i
- Two Days of Deeper Exploration on Molokai
- A Hawaiian A321neo Takes Me Home
In the last post, I left off in a good mood. My trip out in United’s Polaris seat was great, and I had pre-cleared entry into Maui before I even boarded the aircraft in LA. I even had this spiffy bracelet as proof. But then, things got ugly.
Once I got off the airplane, I was greeted by an incredibly long line stretching down the concourse for all those who hadn’t pre-cleared. Not every airline does pre-clearance, and I have a friend who flew on American a week later who said it took him about an hour and a half to get through the whole process… and he figured that wasn’t too bad. We have apparently been conditioned well to just suck it up.
Since I had been pre-cleared, I could follow the signs on the right that let you walk all the way through with your bracelet. There were breaks in the stanchions every so often, so people kept moving into the wrong lane, and the lineminders seemed frustrated.
At one point, a lineminder asked me if I was staying on Maui, and I said no. I was connecting on to Molokai. I didn’t think that would be a problem as I’ll get into in a moment, but I was wrong. She told me to stand there and wait for one of the two “connection tables” to open. I was surprised there were only two, but I guess there aren’t a ton of connections in Kahului.
There was only one table staffed, and it took a long time for the people at that table to finish up. I couldn’t understand why it would have taken so long, but I was about to find out… but not yet. First, the one person working had to go to the bathroom. A few minutes later, she was out and asked me for my QR code. I gave it to her, and then she asked for my other QR code. This is where I screwed up.
My fatal mistake was assuming I didn’t need a QR code to go to Molokai. See, Molokai is a part of Maui County, and any travel within a county isn’t subject to the testing requirements. I had figured that also meant I didn’t have to fill out any paperwork, but that was not the case. They still make you fill out the Safe Travels info so they can do contact tracing. My searches did not find anything on this when I was booking, but that doesn’t matter. It had to be done.
Here is where the state really makes things confusing. When you create a “trip” in Safe Travels, they don’t really mean it to be a trip. It’s a flight. Yes, they ask you for your return flight info, but that is irrelevant to being permitted to fly between the islands, as you’ll learn shortly.
So, she told me to go create a new “trip” for my Kahului – Molokai flights. This is where I learned another valuable lesson. I had used the “log in with google” system instead of creating a password. This is bad. I opened up my phone to login and it said that something was suspicious and I needed to pull a security code off my phone. I did this, but it said the code was wrong. I was stuck.
I told the agent I was going to pull out my computer to try that, and I would step aside. She said no, I should stay there despite the people waiting in line behind me. Why? I don’t know. She should have helped them while I sorted things out.
Once I got my computer connected to airport wifi, I was able to log in with additional security measures. At least it worked. I created the new trip with my flight to Molokai and the return. Then she scanned my QR code, and I was good to go. Since Mokulele operates from the commuter terminal where there’s no TSA security, she told me I had to take a photo of this with my phone to present to others:
Why? I have no idea. She said I would need it to get to my flight, but not a single other person I encountered knew what this was or why I had taken a photo of it.
I thought I was home free, walking out past all the checkpoints and down the stairs into the warm, humid air. But I was wrong. See, Maui had a now-ended requirement for a second test on arrival with those who are vaccinated being exempt. They don’t mention this to you while you’re making your way around the lines. They just force you to walk through stanchions until you get dumped out into a giant tented area in the old rental car shuttle parking lot. The only thing I heard anyone say was “have your vaccine card out.”
There was a lot of confusion, especially with the older crowd, since there wasn’t much explanation about what was happening. It took a few minutes to get through that maze. At the front, one person saw my vaccine card and waived me through. Others were directed to the old rental car counters where they’d have a rapid test taken.
I started to put my card away, but a second person then asked to see it. She handed me one of those ridiculous blue raffle tickets that come in a giant roll. I was supposed to show that to a third person who would let me out. The third person didn’t seem to care at all and I just walked right by him, finally through the gauntlet.
After this, I was good to go on Maui, but there were other problems later in the trip which I’ll mention here instead of in chronological order in a later chapter.
When I landed on Molokai, there were people sitting at a table there scanning QR codes. I showed mine to one of the ladies, she scanned it, and then she got a frustrated look on her face. I think she was talking to herself when she said, “Why are these people scanning the codes on Maui?” Apparently, as she explained, since they had scanned my code, she had extra work to do, because she was supposed to scan it, not them. All I could do is shrug my shoulders, because I had no idea what was going on.
The other point I’ll make is about my return flight. Again, I had figured that since I had entered my flight from Kahului to Molokai with the return in Safe Travels, that would suffice for my QR code in both directions. When I got back to Maui to connect home, the person sitting at that table in the commuter terminal told me I had to create a new “trip” for every flight, even though this was already showing as my return on an existing trip. Confused? Now imagine standing in the warm air off a delayed flight hoping I’d make my connection.
I tried to log back in but again my phone wouldn’t allow it again. I pulled out my computer, but there was no wifi in the commuter terminal, so I turned my phone into a hotspot, and it let me log in on my computer. I created a new trip, and then I got the new QR code which allowed me to pass through.
I had hoped that the process had improved since my October trip when I first arrived. With the exception of the pre-clearance, it was no better. I can’t believe the state has allowed this to continue this way, but it sounds like the end is coming soon. Interisland restrictions go away on June 15 and then once the state his 70 percent vaccinated, the whole system goes away. I’m pretty sure I won’t be returning again until that happens.