Hawaii’s murky reopening, more SFO flights, T-giving travel plans + more travel news

In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…

With just a few days left before Hawaii-bound travelers can skip quarantine and head straight for the beach, the Aloha State’s plan to reopen tourism is showing as many cracks and fissures as a lava field. The confusion and uncertainty around booking trips will likely prevent an onslaught of visitors right away. Plus Oakland just made a very smart move regarding its free testing program. Read: Cracks, confusion appear as Hawaii traveler testing deadline looms

In route news, United plans to revive some transpacific passenger service from San Francisco and add more flights to Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America; Two new Latin American countries open to Americans, American will bring back Beijing service to that city’s new airport; TAP returns to SFO and Qatar Airways is coming soon; Southwest is resuming Bay Area-Hawaii routes and adding new Oakland-Palm Springs flights; a luxury small jet service will begin flying from the Bay Area to four southern California destinations in January; JetBlue moves out of Long Beach and launches a short-term sale on its new LAX-SFO service; Costa Rica reopens to pre-tested U.S. visitors; and American Express opens its largest Centurion Lounge to date at JFK. Read: Routes- Two Latin nations re-open, United to China; TAP, Hawaii flights

Are you planning to fly out of San Francisco International this week? Currently, two of the airport’s four runways are closed down for a major maintenance project that involves repaving a part of Runway 28R at its intersection with Runways 1L and 1R. The project, which began Thursday night, will be underway until next Friday, Oct. 16. Read: Runway paving project could affect SFO flights 

Oakland International Airport announced last week that Southwest Airlines will begin nonstop service between San Francisco’s East Bay and Palm Springs, California (PSP) twice per day starting Nov. 15. It will also fly to Phoenix and Denver from PSP. What’s best about Southwest fares is that you can go ahead and make reservations now, then make changes later with no penalties. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, most other carriers have also eliminated those frustrating fees, which is going to make a getting to and from the Coachella Valley this winter quicker, easier and less expensive. Read: Southwest Airlines to fly between Oakland and Palm Springs for $79 roundtrip

Have you been dreading the annual Thanksgiving holiday crunch, when U.S. air travelers typically have to contend with backed-up airport traffic, overcrowded airport corridors and gate areas, and fully packed planes? Well, don’t worry about all that this year, because early indications are that we could be headed into one of the lightest holiday travel seasons in decades. Read: The good news: Smaller airport crowds this Thanksgiving…
The bad news: Your flight is more likely to be canceled

Even a global pandemic can’t keep international carriers away from San Francisco International and Silicon Valley. After years of teasing its arrival, Qatar Airways will finally land at SFO on Dec. 15, 2020 with four weekly flights using a new Airbus A350-900. The widebody jet will offer 247 economy class and 36 business class seats (no first class) on the 16-hour, 8,061-mile flight between SFO and Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar (DOH). Read: Qatar Airways lands at SFO this December

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After a lengthy delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, American Airlines opened its highly anticipated new Admirals Club in Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday — with some modifications to keep passengers and airline staff safe. American gave SFGATE an exclusive first look inside the new lounge, a space many frequent SFO Admirals Club visitors have been eager to see. Read: Exclusive first look inside SFO’s new American Airlines Admirals Club

Grounded fliers feeling nostalgic about walking through airports will find some solace in Walmart’s new store designs. The giant retail chain is getting inspiration from airports as it revamps the layout and signage of its stores to speed up shopping and better cater to smartphone-armed customers. Read: Why your local Walmart will soon look like an airport

Chris McGinnis is SFGATE’s senior travel correspondent. Email: chris@travelskills.com. Get up-to-the-minute travel news via Chris’s social feeds: Twitter: @cjmcginnis | Facebook: @TravelSkills

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