Travelling to Hawaii is tricky for Canadians
The planned opening of the U.S. border to fully vaccinated Canadians may have you thinking more about travelling, but it could still be a bumpy ride.
If you're fully vaccinated, you won't need a negative COVID-19 test to travel by land to the U.S., but if you're travelling by air you will need proof of both.
In addition, it is still unclear whether those who received mixed vaccine doses that included AstraZeneca will be considered fully vaccinated. And, no matter where you are going in the U.S. or elsewhere, the rules can change.
"Biggest frustration is a lack of consistency," said Allison Wallace, Flight Centre Group vice president of corporate communications.
"I was getting misleading answers or no answers," said Mel Kimoto of Parksville.
Kimoto is a former travel agent who was planning to travel to Hawaii in early October to celebrate her husband's 50th birthday, but her plans were grounded when she says she couldn't get clear answers about COVID-19 travel rules in Hawaii.
Safe Travels Hawaii has special requirements for Canadians travelling to the Islands to get tested at labs identified by Air Canada and WestJet. Those negative COVID-19 tests must be the more sensitive and accurate PCR tests, not the antigen test that will get you into the rest of the U.S.
What Kimoto didn't know is that she can't get a test at one of those labs and use the test result to fly on a different airline into Hawaii.
"Definitely it was not clear when booking our flights. That much I can say," Kimoto said.
The problem? She booked her travel on United Airlines to travel to Hawaii transiting through San Francisco. In order to continue on to Hawaii, Kimoto would have had to have another COVID-19 test through a State of Hawaii approved lab in the U.S., which would have added time on the ground in San Francisco and extra cost.
When CTV News dug a bit further, we discovered Hawaii will only accept negative COVID-19 tests from its Canadian trusted travel partners, WestJet and Air Canada.
It doesn't matter if you have a copy of your test from one of their approved labs, it will only be accepted if delivered by one of the trusted travel partners. And for Canadians there are only two: Air Canada and WestJet.
"Everybody was just vague and tried to push me off here or there and the wording was all very vague, which is just a red flag for me," Kimoto explained.
She gave up and cancelled the trip.
"It wasn't worth the risk of having 10 days in a hotel out of our 14-day holiday," she said.
Some Canadians are also confused about the recent emergency order issued in O'ahu, which would require proof of full vaccination in order to get into restaurants and other public places. CTV News has confirmed with island officials that the AstraZeneca and other WHO-approved vaccines will be accepted.
If you're looking for an easier travel destination, you might want to consider the Dominican Republic or Mexico. Neither of those two countries require a negative COVID-19 test. However, unless you're fully vaccinated, you could be pulled aside for random health screening in the Dominican Republic. Mexico will have you fill out a health questionnaire. And, you'll still need to find a lab to get a PCR test in order to return to Canada.
Here's your COVID-19 travel checklist:
- Have a paper copy of your vaccination record
- Take a paper copy of your negative test
- Register and upload the required documents to the airline or destination country
- Make sure you have the online links for health questionnaires
- Download the proper apps, like ArriveCan
- Ensure your smartphone is charged and has access to Wi-Fi
- Check with travel insurance to make sure you're covered