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Everything Vancouver travellers need to know if they have flights booked to Hawaii

Travellers should avoid all non-essential travel.
Find out what to do if you have Vancouver flights from YVR booked to Hawaii during the Maui travel advisory.

Travellers may have some room to change flights if they purchased tickets to Maui following wildfires that have devastated the Hawaiian island. 

The tragedy is now the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history, claiming nearly 100 lives with the possibility of scores of more bodies to be discovered in the burn area. 

Most flights between Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui had resumed by Monday, Aug. 14, allowing people who were trapped on the island a chance to leave. 

Going the other direction, the Canadian government warns against travel to the island as its residents grapple with the aftermath of the blaze. Nearly every building was destroyed in centuries-old Lahaina, and the State of Hawaii declared a state of emergency on Aug. 9.

While the fires have retreated, authorities warn that toxic byproducts may remain, including in drinking water, after the flames spewed poisonous fumes. That has left many unable to return home.

What to do if you have booked Maui flights leaving soon

YVR's departures page shows two flights scheduled to leave from the airport en route to Maui on Tuesday, Aug. 15 evening. One is with WestJet, the other with Air Canada.

Air Canada says its customers can make alternative travel arrangements for free due to the Maui fires if they booked flights departing in August. 

  • Eligible travellers must have purchased their ticket no later than Aug. 9 for travel until Aug. 31.
  • The original itinerary must include a flight to, from, or via Maui.

Flights during the affected period may be changed to another date up to Oct. 1, subject to availability in the booking class that was originally purchased. Otherwise, any fare difference will apply.

Travellers may also change their itineraries to travel anytime to or from Honolulu (HNL) and additional charges and any fare difference will be waived, subject to availability in the class they originally purchased. 

If you choose to cancel your flight, you will receive a full refund.

If you purchased your ticket with Air Canada Vacations, reach out to them directly.

For more information about the Air Canada Maui Advisory visit its travel updates page.

WestJet will allow one-time changes and cancellations for free on eligible air-only bookings.

  • Travellers must have purchased their ticket no later than Aug. 9 for travel until Aug. 31.
  • Eligible destinations include Maui and Hawaii (the big island). 
  • Flights must be wholly marketed and operated by WestJet, including Encore.

Travellers must request changes or cancellations more than two hours prior to departure. If these are made within two hours of travel, the standard fees apply.

  • For changes:
    • If you change your travel dates to on or before Oct. 31 and go to the same destination or a geographically close destination, the difference in fare is waived and no change fee will be charged.
    • If you change your travel dates to travel after Oct. 31 to the same destination or a geographically close destination, no change fee will be charged but the difference in fare will apply. 
    • You may book a new destination for free, but the difference in fare will apply and you must complete the exchange by Oct. 31.
  • For cancellations:
    • Depending on the booking channel, non-refundable fares (excluding Basic fares) will remain as an open ticket for 13 months from the first coupon date or be returned to Corporate Travel Bank.
    • Basic fares are eligible for cancellation for no fee until Oct. 31.
    • Refundable fares may be returned to the original form of payment or remain as an open ticket for 13 months from the first coupon date.
    • Any portion paid with WestJet dollars will be returned to the traveller's account. Any portion paid with Travel Bank credit will be returned to the traveller's account and the original expiration date (if applicable) will apply.  

For more information about the WestJet travel Advisory, visit its Maui updates page.

What to consider about the Maui travel advisory if you must travel

Canada has issued an "avoid all non-essential travel" advisory for journeys to Maui. 

Essential services could be disrupted during your visit, including transportation, power distribution, water and food supply, telecommunications networks, emergency services, and medical care.

If you are in the areas affected by the wildfires:

  • exercise caution
  • monitor local news and weather reports
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders

While there is no advisory for other parts of Hawaii, locals have urged against travel due to an influx of tourism over the past years. Also, the other islands may see a surge in visitors right now as people evacuate Maui. 

With files from the Associated Press.