Standing at the curb at Daniel K. Inouye International Airporton Thursday morning, having flown in from Los Angeles as Hurricane Lane churned toward Oahu, Kayla Cate had a simple reason why she and her sister braved the storm to visit Hawaii.
“It just wasn’t worth changing plans,” she said.
But as her ride pulled up in a silver minivan, the driver, Cheryl Lagmay, had another reason: Lagmay’s having her bachelorette party this weekend, and 13 women are flying in for it.
“They kind of had to come,” Lagmay said of Cate and Cate’s sister, Kamille Gangwish.
Cate and Gangwish weren’t the only travelers not letting Hurricane Lane spoil their plans, choosing to fly into the path of the hurricane rather than stay home.
Aaron Gardiner of Topeka, Kansas, also got in early Thursday, to attend a family memorial. Gardiner’s sprawling travel party, which included his wife and kids and in-laws, were growing a little weary of talking to the media. They already had spoken to reporters in Los Angeles looking for hardy travelers who were flying toward the hurricane, said Meresaini Torrin, Gardiner’s sister-in-law.
Torrin said a little storm was nothing compared to her crew.
“We are the hurricane that hit Honolulu,” she said.
For his part, Gardiner planned to have fun during the trip. He hoped to snorkel, jump off the cliffs at Waimea Bay and “kiss a dolphin.”
And what about Hurricane Lane?
“You bring the hurricane into the equation, I get a little nervous,” he said, and laughed.
Lonnie Schwab, an insurance executive from Des Moines, Iowa, flew in from the Big Island early Thursday with his wife Edith and their daughter Tessa. The family had arrived in Hawaii on Monday, Schwab said, and saw no reason to cut short their plans. Instead, they’ll hunker down and ride out the storm at the Hale Koa hotel in Waikiki. Lonnie Schwab said he’s planning to leave Saturday, while Edith and Tessa will stay until Aug. 31.
Edith Schwab wasn’t too worried.
“We have tornadoes in Iowa, so…,” she said and shrugged.
Of course, it wasn’t entirely business as usual at the airport.
Greeters for Roberts Hawaii’s shuttle to Waikiki said they were seeking about half the usual number of disembarking passengers.
“It’s like a ghost town,” said Alayna Iose, who was with with several other Roberts employees as they sat and waited for people to greet.
Meredith Kimitsuka of Kailua, who flew back home from Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines, confirmed her flight “wasn’t too full.”
The airlines were also responding to the storm. United Airlines cancelled all fights in and out of Maui for Friday and reduced fares for flights out of the state. The Chicago-based carrier also added two additional flights from Honolulu to San Francisco.
Hawaiian Airlines, which operates about 150 flights daily out of Hawaii, hadn’t canceled any flights between Hawaii and other destinations as of Thursday afternoon and didn’t plan any changes on Friday, said Ann Botticelli, a spokeswoman for Hawaiian.
But the carrier’s turboprop subsidiary, Ohana by Hawaiian, which flies to Lanai, Molokai and Maui, will have modified schedules. The Lanai flight and one to Kapalua on Maui were canceled for Thursday afternoon, and the airline won’t fly Friday.
American Airlines confirmed it hadn’t canceled any flights as of Thursday. Delta Airlines did not respond to inquiries.
Delta, American, United and Hawaiian are all waiving flight change fees for passengers already holding tickets to and from Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines has extended the time period passengers can change their reservation for travel on Hawaiian and its codeshare partners. Passengers with tickets for travel to, from, within or through Hawaii from Aug. 21 to Aug. 28 can change their flights without a charge because of Hurricane Lane.
Still, there were plenty of visitors choosing to ride out the storm.
George Szegeti, president and chief executive of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, estimated that there were 270,000 travelers visiting Hawaii statewide on Thursday. And from the looks of things in Waikiki, it seemed like a lot were there at the beach, strolling Kalakaua Avenue and watching the surfers.
Lagmay and her party spent the day on the North Shore before grabbing some goodies at the Leonard’s Bakery Malasadamobile in Waikele and heading back to their rooms at the hip Laylow hotel. The party plans to move to a beach house in Waimanalo on Friday, Lagmay said, but her friends won’t tell her what’s in store for the rest of the weekend.
“It’s a surprise,” she said.
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