The latest from airlines, hotels as Hurricane Lane settles in
Hurricane Lane (photo credit NASA/Ricky Arnold)

The latest from airlines, hotels as Hurricane Lane settles in

TORONTO — The hotels are sandbagged and travellers are waiting for word about flights out as Hurricane Lane barrels north after dumping nearly two feet of rain on Hawaii’s Big Island.

WestJet announced yesterday it was cancelling all regularly scheduled flights into and out of Hawaii for Aug. 23 and Aug. 24 and instead operated two, non-scheduled recovery flights out of Hawaii on Aug. 23, one from Honolulu and one from Maui.

WestJet’s Aug. 24 cancellations are as follows:

. WS1864 from Vancouver to Honolulu
. WS1865 from Honolulu to Vancouver
. WS1852 from Vancouver to Kahului
. WS1853 from Kahului to Vancouver

WestJet adds that it has implemented flexible change and cancel rules for the above to allow passengers to change their travel dates/route without incurring the change/cancel fee. To review flight options passengers can call WestJet (air-only): 1-888-WESTJET (1-888-937-8538) or for WestJet Vacations: 1-877-737-7001. Passengers who have made air-only bookings through their travel agent are asked to contact their agent directly.

WestJet’s current travel advisories are posted online here: westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/advisories

United Airlines cancelled its Friday flights to and from Maui. Hawaiian Airlines cancelled all Friday flights by its commuter carrier, Ohana by Hawaiian.

Earlier this week both WestJet and Air Canada issued rebooking advisories for Hawaii destinations.

The centre was still offshore but Hurricane Lane still lashed the Big Island with more than 30” of rain in about 24 hours. Its maximum sustained winds near 193 kph made it a Category 3 hurricane. It has now been downgraded to Category 2.

Forecasters say the centre of the storm will move close to or over parts of Hawaii’s main islands late Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet.

About 320 kilometres north of Hilo, on the state’s most populated island of Oahu, employees of the Sheraton Waikiki resort filled sandbags to protect the oceanfront hotel from surging surf.

Stores along Waikiki’s high-end Kalakaua Avenue stacked sandbags along the bottom of their glass windows to prepare for heavy rain and flash flooding.
Police on loudspeakers told surfers and swimmers to get out of the water, saying the beach would be closed until further notice.

The Marriott Resort Waikiki Beach in Honolulu designated a ballroom on the third floor as a shelter for guests and began removing lounge chairs from around the pool and bar area.

At the Hilton Hawaiian Village, guests said hotel staff left a notice that the rooms will still have water and phone service, and a backup generator would power one elevator per building in the event of a power outage.

Hurricane Lane is not projected to make a direct hit on the islands but officials warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm. Some areas could see up to 30” of rain.

Hawaii’s biggest hotels are confident they can keep their guests safe as long as they stay inside, said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association.

“The only concern is those that venture outside of the properties, that would like to hike on a day like this or who would like to still go into the ocean and see what it’s like to take a swim or surf in these kind of waters,” said Hannemann.

Honolulu shopping malls and office buildings closed early on Thursday and planned to shut their doors Friday.

The National Weather Service downgraded the Big Island to a tropical storm warning, meaning it expects sustained winds of 62 kph to 117 kph on the island instead of stronger hurricane force winds.

But a hurricane warning remains in effect for Oahu and Maui County.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992.

With files from The Associated Press