Alaska’s Pre-Clear Program makes flying to Hawaii a breeze says guest & island native

Recently, I flew to Hawaii using Alaska’s Pre-Clear program to seamlessly get to the islands to help my baby sister move into her dorm room for her first year of college. I couldn’t miss out on this major milestone (and aloha, Hawaii!).

My two sisters and I are super close. My baby sis is 14 years younger than me so you can imagine what it was like as a teenager having to share the TV with a toddler—swapping MTV for baby Mozart and diaper duties before slipping away to dance class. Don’t get me wrong, the tot cramped my style, but it wasn’t long before our bond was deeper than any high school clique.

When it was time for her to go to college—during the COVID-19 pandemic nonetheless—I knew I had to be there (mindfully).

Left to right: My oldest sister, youngest sister and I with ‘Leahi’ in the background (aka ‘Diamond Head.’) ll Right: Mom and daughters.

Hawaii is the ‘Pre-tty-Clear’ choice to travel safe & mindfully

Alaska recently launched its Hawaii Pre-Clear program, empowering flyers with the ability to bypass airport screening upon arrival with an approved negative COVID-19 test. Pre-Clear is just one of the many features of Alaska’s Next-Level Care that provides guests with a safe, clean and mindful travel experience—it was super easy and made all the difference!

What is Pre-Clear? And, how do you get it?

Alaska’s Hawaii-bound guests can skip the line upon arrival in the Hawaiian Islands.

Get pre-cleared online in six easy steps:

1) Create a ‘Safe Travels profile’ at https://travel.hawaii.gov. Each traveling adult must create their own profile. You can add minors as additional travel members.

2) Enter your trip details. Add a trip for each leg of travel. A QR code will be needed for each leg of your trip—the QR code is key!

3) Upload your documents. First, upload your COVID test result. You are only able to upload a COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours from the final leg of travel. If your test result is verified, the status of the document will show COVID Negative. Your given name must also match with what is on your gov. ID.

4) Log in to your account 24 hours before your departure to fill out the Travel Health Questionnaire.

5) Receive your QR code via email after filling out the questionnaire. IMPORTANT: Save your QR code to your phone or print it out to speed up the process at the airport.

6) Have the following things ready when you arrive at the airport:

  • Your QR code.
  • A valid government issued ID for each traveling adult.
  • If you have a quarantine exemption, bring your letter or proof of the exemption.
  • It’s also helpful to bring a physical copy of your test results to the airport for the screening process just in case technology fails you.

Once you’re screened at the airport, a gate agent will verify that your profile is updated and give you a pre-clear wristband. Your trip details will be updated under “trips” on your Safe Travels profile, which you can use to show your hotel and/or rental car company that you are exempt from Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Guests with pending test results will not be able to be pre-cleared prior to departure and will have to quarantine upon arrival in Hawaii for 10 days, or the duration of your stay, whichever is shorter.

My “VIP” Pre-Clear experience

After booking my flight, I visited Alaska’s travel advisory page, where it explained the requirements for each island. Since we were going to Oahu, I learned I needed to take a COVID-19 test from a trusted partner within 72 hours before my Hawaii-bound flight. And since Alaska is all about care and ease, the page linked directly to a list of trusted COVID testing partners. From there, I was able to book my appointment faster than the time it might take you to nail down my Hawaiian middle name (it’s 20 letters long “Kuuipoikaheepueone”).

After booking an appointment to get tested, I went back to the advisory page to find the list of all of the following things I needed to do before my flight:

  • COVID test and results? Check.
  • Safe Travels profile? Check.
  • Required documents locked and loaded for the day of departure? Cheehu! (Pidgin English expression of excitement). Check!

I arrived at the airport about two hours early, anticipating the process might take some extra time, but it didn’t take long at all! I easily found the marked Pre-Clear line and went through the line quickly. My Safe Travels profile was verified by an Alaska AIrlines agent. After that, I was given my official Pre-Clear wristband, and made my way to security.

On board, it was smooth sailing. Every guest wore a mask (a travel requirement these days), and the crew did a fantastic job ensuring people stayed masked-up. From seatback cards to announcements and cute napkins, the message was clear; you can expect that Alaska will keep you safe.

As we deplaned, the crew instructed travelers where to go—if you had a Pre-Clear wristband you were instructed to follow the Pre-Clear path, where we met the National Guard to show off our “VIP” wristbands for quick and easy clearance. Overall, it was simple and effortless.

Be mindful and malama while in Hawaii

Pro tip: when you visit Hawaii, aim to shop local by scouting for a certified ‘Open With Aloha’ sign. Your money will go right back into local small businesses.

Over the next few days, we helped my little sister set up her dorm room, chowed down on ono (delicious) eats, and most importantly, we respected the islands through malama (the Hawaiian value of taking care, preserving, protecting). As Native Hawaiians, but especially as visitors, we must honor the land and culture.

One way we recognized malama was by taking the donor cultural tour at the Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center in Maunalua Bay, Oahu, to pay our respects to this ancient freshwater spring and educate ourselves on its critical role in the life cycle of many native species. It was humbling and inspiring, motivating my sisters and me to ground ourselves deeper into the roots of our aina (land) and kupuna (ancestors) compelling us to kokua (help) in any way we can.

“Freshwater meeting the ocean is the piko (navel string) of our land and sea,” said Scott Liloa, the fishpond’s kiai O Kanewai (guardian of the spring) who showed us around. “Preservation of this wahi pana (legendary place) is important for the well-being of the aina (land). We hope to preserve and protect this sacred place for all to learn and enjoy for many years to come.”

My sisters and I taking a moment of stillness as we soaked in the sacred space.

As it came time to head back home, I felt refreshed and deeply moved to share my experience and appreciation for Alaska for its commitment to safety and the places they fly.

Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for your malama and care, Alaska. Pupukahi i holomua (Unite to move forward.)

Book your dream getaway to Hawaii at alaskaair.com.

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