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Hawaii Covid Travel Restrictions Frustrate & Anger Tourists

NOTE: This transcript is from The Travel Pro Show, which you can watch on YouTube here.

Coming up on this episode, crazy covid travel restrictions for Hawaii, a visit to Atlanta airport where maybe I'll even bump into Sir Elton John and a nifty travel hack to save you money on every flight. I'm Andrew Lock, and this is the show that shares the secrets to smarter travel.

Hello and welcome to the show. Well, we're living in a crazy covid world right now, and frankly, travel is a mess in the states. Hawaii has the strictest rules, which some feel are unreasonable. And when I say some, I mean everyone. For most of last year, although they couldn't stop Americans from travelling to Hawaii, the state required hotels to issue room keys that only worked once. So visitors were allowed into their room, but then they had to stay there for 14 days.

Seems like Hawaii has been getting their travel advice from Guantanamo Bay. The guests, or should I say detainees, were not allowed to leave for any reason. No pool, no spa, no beach, no mai tais. In fact, no Hawaii.

Authorities even considered requiring everyone to wear an ankle monitor as a tracking device, kind of like a human lo-jack, but they back down after tourists started mocking it as the "Harvey Weinstein package." Fortunately, towards the end of last year, the entry requirements were changed, to instead require a covid lab test taken on the mainland up to three days before departure. Great news, right? Let's all celebrate with a mai tai. Yeah, not so fast.

From CBS News: "It was supposed to be a dream vacation. Rob and Pam Alexander are celebrating their forty sixth wedding anniversary in Hawaii.

We had three generations going earlier this month, Hawaii revising its rules, allowing visitors in without a mandatory 14 day quarantine as long as they had a recent negative covid test from a list of approved testing sites. But when the Alexanders landed on Friday after taking three flights, they weren't allowed to enter without quarantining. Their negative tests weren't recognised by the state after getting tested at an unapproved clinic. Frustrated and disappointed, they returned home. It's a very expensive lesson to learn."

You're not kidding. Unfortunately, it gets worse. According to the Hawaii State website, the two biggest providers for these tests are Walgreens and CVS, where one pack of Tic Tacs will get you a seven foot receipt. Unfortunately, at the top of both of their websites, it says "We can't guarantee a specific turnaround time on the lab." Tests accepted by Hawaii travellers to Hawaii should make other testing plans. Really?!

So the next logical option is airport testing. And by airport testing, I don't mean "is this airport infected with covid?" I mean, getting a test at the airport. Here's the thing. Out of the 503 major airports in the states, Hawaii allows tests from three of them. Unbelievable. The third option that Hawaii approves is to get a test kit sent to your home, which you then ship back via ups. The leading provider is called And on their website, it says, if you're travelling on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you can't use that test - because UPS don't pick up on Sundays.

So the long and the short of it apparently is, as long as you're travelling on a Saturday, Monday, Thursday or Friday, and you can take the test at the exact right time and mail it in on the right day, everything should be fine. Look, this Hawaii situation really irritates me. For Hawaii to ban the majority of labs from doing tests. It's not only ridiculous, it's deeply unfair. Hawaii is needlessly turning people away with perfectly good tests.

Hawaii's tourism slogan is "Come Taste Paradise". And it seems they now mean this literally the keyword being "taste" - just like a tiny Costco sample. Come get a "taste" of paradise inside the airport - but then we're going to send you back home. Have you been affected by this craziness? If you have, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. And now it's time to hear from travel pro presenter Gabriela Soutine.

One of the apps that nearly always used to research flight prices is Skiplagged.

It's a genius idea and it saved me a lot of money and it will save you money too. Skiplagged is the brainchild of a 22 year old computer programmer, a.k.a. nerd, who stumbled upon the concept of Hidden City flights, which are flights that go via another city before reaching a final destination. The opportunity to save money exists because of the way these flights are priced. So, for example, let's say you want to fly from the Big Apple, New York to San Francisco, the average price is around $500.

So Skiplagged finds flights that route through San Francisco for a cheaper price. So let's say American Airlines offers a flight from New York to Seattle via San Francisco. You would take the first leg of the flight from New York to San Francisco, and get off the plane and be in your destination for a lot less money. How cool is that? The only drawback you have to remember is that obviously this way you can't check your luggage because it would, of course, continue on to Seattle without you.

Here's how to get started with Skiplagged, you can either go to, or download the app for your smartphone. Enter where you want to go from and to, and of course, the date. Let's do from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. I find it's best to search for each leg as a separate one way flight, even if you want a round trip. So you press the button, and wait for the results. As you can see here, the cheapest option is this flight that goes from LAX to Dulles, and then from Dulles to Philadelphia. You would obviously just take the first leg of the flight and be all pleased with yourself for how much money you've saved. Now, as you might imagine though, the airlines aren't too happy about this little hack. United even brought a lawsuit against Skiplagged to try to shut them down. The judge actually sided with Skiplagged and threw the case out of the court.

Hooray for travellers! If you think about it, I mean, the airline is offering a ticket for a certain price and you as their customers agree to pay that price. So whether or not you use all of the ticket is entirely up to you because you're the customer, right? So if I were you, I would check out and start saving today and it's back to you.

Thank you, Gabriella. Skiplagged is amazing, I've saved a lot of money with it, you just got to remember to use it carefully and not too frequently, otherwise, the airlines may shut down your frequent flyer account. If I use Skiplagged, I always call the airline after my first flight, and let them know that my plans changed and that I won't be able to make the connecting flight that way. There's a record in their system that I cancelled the second flight, rather than just being a no show.

Well, let me take a moment to tell you about, the ultimate tool for savvy travellers found this card is primarily designed for business owners and entrepreneurs. And you do have to apply and pay a modest annual fee to be accepted. But the benefits are enormous. You get discounts and or perks with airlines like Emirates, American United, B.A., Singapore and Cathay Pacific, as well as with hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton, plus car rental companies like Hertz, Avis and Sixt.

Taking Hilton as an example. not only do you get a discounted rate, you also get instant gold status without having to meet the normal stay requirements. That means you get free room upgrades, free cooked breakfast for everyone in your party, free late checkout, free high-speed Wi-Fi access, and twenty five percent bonus points. Pretty good, right? There's hundreds of discounts and perks to choose from. You get a sleek metal membership card to flash in front of your friends, and as a member myself, I have to tell you, I love it.

So do yourself a favour and check it out at, so you can get a lot more perks and discounts when you travel.

Atlanta, nicknamed "Hotlanta", just got even hotter. It's the city famous for being the home of CNN, Coca-Cola, the CDC, and now Sir Elton John. No offence to Atlanta, but I really can't figure out why Sir Elton moved there. Does he not know about Hawaii? Maybe he does. He just doesn't want the ankle monitor. Just kind of sound strange to hear someone say "when I make a million dollars in the music industry, I'm moving to Atlanta.

"Maybe he wants to switch musical genres. I guess he's planning to drop that trap album soon.

Anyway, I recently visited Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport to (a) see how it's been impacted by covid and (b) to see if I could spot Sir Elton.

If there's one place you'd expect to see a significant upswing in travellers right now, it would be Atlanta Airport here in Georgia. Officially, the world's busiest airport and the largest hub, in a normal year it processes 110 million passengers on more than a thousand flights a day. Sadly, right now, the situation is pretty dire, with 88 percent of flights cancelled, which sounds bad enough, but that's actually up from the worst point in the pandemic when 97 percent of flights were cancelled.

And of the 347 shops and restaurants here, three hundred and ten of them are closed. And that's certainly reflected here in the international terminal, where the one choice of restaurant is PeiWei, the Asian fast food outlet.

The airport's general manager, was recently quoted as saying he expects the recovery to take between two and five years. It's really sad to see all these outlets closed, not to mention all the unemployment. But it's not all doom and gloom. Things are heading in the right direction, and although the recovery is slow, there is still a recovery. Now, then where's the rocket man? Come on, Sir Elton, don't go breaking my heart...

I couldn't find Sir Elton anywhere, but he's a busy chap, so I understand if you enjoyed this episode, please consider becoming a subscriber so you don't miss out on all the fun. And also visit, where you can grab the nifty free guide seven top travel hacks to save you money on your next flight. It's the ultimate blueprint for always getting the best deal. We'd love to hear your opinion and feedback about any aspect of the show, especially if you've been affected by the testing rules for Hawaii.

We also appreciate it when you share this show with your travel buddies. Thank you very much for doing that. And by the way, I'm sure they will thank you, too. If you want more travel tips and inspiration, check out the brilliant travel themed newsletter at the TravelInsider.jam-packedcom. David, who runs that site, sends out an email newsletter every Friday, and it's jam packed with interesting news stories. He's a very good writer.

On Instagram, check out @TripSavvy. One of the things I really like about their account is that most of their posts are videos, so you get a really nice flavour of some of the destinations they feature. We'll put links below to both of those resources and be sure to check them out. Join us again next week when I'll be visiting CPH - Copenhagen Airport in Denmark, to visit the world's first free covid testing. It's open for all travellers. We'll also be taking a trip down memory lane at how airlines used to be in the 50s and 60s, and we'll share a travel hack to get you through security faster.

And finally, here's a lost in translation sign from my travels. This one tries to reassure travellers they'll be easily understood with the message, "Of Klouse We Spoke England." Something's definitely lost in translation there. See you next week!