Breaking news and live coverage of the fires in Maui, Hawaii

Travelers rush to Hawaii amid wildfires

August 9, 2023 is believed to have destroyed much of the historic town of Lahaina in Kahului, Hawaii.

The devastating wildfires in the Hawaiian Islands, combined with the massive communication gaps created by service disruptions, have left many travelers scrambling to leave the hard-hit Maui island or postpone travel plans.

State officials are working with hotels and local airlines to try to evacuate tourists from Maui to another island, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke told CNN Wednesday morning. But disruption in communications has hampered efforts to reach the entire world.

Kahului Airport in Maui is open, the Hawaii Department of Transportation posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. HDOD urged patience at the airport and also provided details on how to reach the airport via the Ring Road.

Hawaii State Department of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen said at a news conference Wednesday that non-essential travel to Maui is discouraged.

Travel consultant Jim Bent said Pique Travel Design is advising clients traveling to Maui over the next week to modify itineraries to “help reduce the burden on local infrastructure.”

It said Pique Travel would work with its partners on the island to cancel or reduce and change fares.

Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines offer a waiver for travel to Maui, allowing passengers to change plans without penalty.

“Passengers with non-urgent questions about their trip are encouraged to call later so we can assist those with immediate needs,” Hawaiian Airlines X posted on the social site, formerly known as Twitter. The airline has asked passengers to check the status of their flights before proceeding to the airport.

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Travelers with plans to visit islands other than Maui won’t need to change their plans, Bendt said.

Hotels and excursions will continue to operate as usual, he said.

As for the future of Maui travel, that will have to wait.

“Natural disasters are fast, by nature. If you’re planning a trip to Maui in a few weeks, the best thing to do is wait and see if the fires die down,” says Scott Keys, from travel website Going.com.

“Cancelling a trip for a few days a few weeks in advance has no added benefit,” Keyes said.

Eden Hayes

"Wannabe gamer. Subtly charming beer buff. General pop culture trailblazer. Incurable thinker. Certified analyst."

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