Maui wildfires: Everything you need to know about navigating airline travel advisories

ByBrandon Behle, Suzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Lahaina Maui fire: Hawaii wildfires strand travelers
Tourists already in Maui are being asked to leave if they can and travelers planning to go to the island are also being asked to reschedule their trips.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The travel advisory issued for Maui in the wake of the Hawaiian island's deadly wildfires is forcing many tourists and airline passengers to scramble for alternative travel arrangements.

The advisory urged people to avoid unnecessary travel to the Maui area so that emergency officials could allow evacuees and people impacted by the wildfires to safely leave the area.

If you are one of those travelers trying to figure out what the advisory means to you, here's what you need to know:

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What does the travel advisory say?

Issued by the state's acting Governor, it says: "Due to the ongoing wildfires on Maui caused by Hurricane Dora, Acting Governor Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation to extend the state of emergency to all counties, discourage non-essential air travel to Maui, and to order all affected state agencies to assist with the evacuation."

Additionally, the advisory said: "As the wildfires continue, visitors with current and planned lodging at West Maui hotels may not have accommodations... The proclamation encourages visitors in West Maui to depart the island as soon as safe and practicable."

How are airlines responding?

Alaska Airlines

The airline posted this on social media: "We are closely monitoring the devastating impacts from the Maui wildfires, and we are continuing to operate all of our scheduled departures from Maui. A flexible travel policy is in place to allow guests to leave the island as soon as needed or postpone planned travel to the island." Alaska provided more details about its flexible travel policy when it comes to changing or cancelling flights on its website.

American Airlines

American is also waiving change fees but there are some requirements to be eligible for that. Full details are on their website.

Delta Airlines

Delta says that change fees will be waived if the new flight occurs before August 16, 2023. After that may incur a fare difference charge. But if the ticket is canceled altogether, then Delta will allow passengers to use the unused value of the ticket toward a future purchase of a new ticket. Details on their website.

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Hawaiian Airlines

The airline posted on social media: "We have a travel waiver in place and will allow you to receive a refund or change travel to a future date without penalty. If you wish to change your travel plans" The airlines website said the flexible policy applied to people travelling from now until August 20, 2023.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is allowing passengers with tickets to Maui to change their flight without any additional charges. Passengers may rebook to another date or to another Hawaiian destination including Hilo, Honolulu, Kona, or Lihue. More details are available ontheir website.

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United Airlines

United is waiving fees for passengers travelling to Maui on August 9-10. Passengers can change or reschedule their flights with no extra fee if they travel before August 16, 2023. If you new trip is outside that window, fees will still be waived but you might have to pay a fare difference. But, your new flight must be a United flight departing between August 8, 2023 and August 16, 2023. Tickets must be in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally booked.

If your new trip is after August 8, 2024, or is to a different destination, we'll still waive any change fees but you might have to pay a fare difference depending on the flight. Passengers also have the option to get a full refund. More details are on their website.


Westjet is offering flexible changing and canceling guidlines effective through August 11, 2023. Website.

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