How Alaska Airlines and other carriers are helping people flee Maui

As residents and visitors rushed to escape the impact of deadly wildfires in Maui, some airlines said they are adding more flights, swapping in bigger planes or making other changes to help accommodate evacuees.

Airlines are also offering travel waivers and eliminating fees for travelers whose plans are changing, though details vary by carrier.

More than 11,000 passengers left Maui on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported, with another 1,500 expected to leave Thursday. Officials said about 600 people were spending the night at the airport.

At a news conference Wednesday night, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen said airlines had brought in larger planes, lowered fares and kept service running.


Southwest added service on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to its more than 90 daily flights to and within Hawaii to help carry supplies, as well as people who need to respond to the fires or get away from them.

The airline’s website shows that some of the one-way flights leaving Kahului Airport on Maui Thursday afternoon for Honolulu and most departing throughout Friday start at $19. Others departing Thursday morning start at $49.


Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines shows some one-way flights from Maui to Honolulu late Thursday starting at $19. The airline did not immediately respond to questions about its adjustments. Hawaiian’s website says that it is operating a full schedule but is “concentrating our resources on transporting essential personnel and first responders.”

Hawaiian is asking travelers who do not already have flights booked to avoid showing up at crowded Kahului Airport and reminding travelers that trips can be booked online. “For visitors, we encourage you to consult with your hotel and determine whether it is advisable to shelter in place for the time being,” the message said.

American Airlines

American Airlines said it expects to operate all of scheduled flights to and from Maui on Thursday; it is adding one more flight and upgrading one Los Angeles-bound plane from a 190-seat aircraft to one with 273 seats “to ensure customers evacuating OGG [in Maui] are able to do so,” a statement said.


United said in a statement that it canceled inbound flights to Maui on Thursday so planes can fly empty and be used to ferry passengers back to the mainland. “Our teams are monitoring the situation closely and adjusting our schedule so we can keep serving our customers under difficult conditions,” the statement said. “We’re emphasizing safety as always and checking on the welfare of our employees on Maui.”


Delta spokesman Drake Castañeda said in an email the airline has operated extra sections out of Maui and instituted fare caps along with offering travel waivers.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines said it is delaying some flights but planned to keep operating its eight scheduled departures from Maui daily, with one more added on Thursday. The carrier said it is “assessing” the addition of more rescue flights to help people flee. “What we’re seeing in Hawaii is devastating and we’re monitoring the situation closely,” the Alaska Air statement said. “Our main concern is the safety of our employees and guests.”

Kelsey Ables contributed to this report.

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