Man Forced To Return To Los Angeles After Hawaii Rejects His Mayo Clinic Covid-19 Test

Hawaii requires a negative Covid-19 test in order to avoid 14 day quarantine on arrival. But the process is cumbersome, error-prone, and anything but transparent. Some airlines, and now CLEAR, offer services to pre-validate documents to help avoid a passenger getting rejected by Hawaii despite a valid negative test, but who knows? Even that may not work.

One family was forced to split up, with the husband flying back across the ocean to Los Angeles to get a new test, after Hawaii rejected his negative Covid-19 assessment from the world-famous Mayo Clinic.

“We had a very stressful year,” Joan stated. “My family had a lot of deaths, including my 50-year-old sister and my dad.”

The trip has turned into a nightmare, where they have more questions than answers.

“My COVID-19 test was from Walgreen’s lab where I sat in the car and swabbed my own nose, and Hawaii accepted that,” said Joan. “My husband’s test was taken at a hospital by a registered nurse and yet it was denied as a non-trusted partner.”

Since the family arrived in Hawaii too late for him to catch a new plane to Los Angeles, he slept in the car his wife rented and then caught a 5 hour flight in the morning. He expects to be back by Valentine’s Day with a drugstore test, but Hawaii’s ‘trusted lab’ program simply makes no sense if they reject results from the Mayo Clinic.

  • Hawaii does not offer testing on arrival, though since they have even accepted a rapid test there’s no valid reason for this.
  • The state lists trusted partners on their website, but doesn’t list all of their partners. For instance partners of partners (like a test via an American Airlines partner) are accepted without being listed. It’s nearly impossible to know with certainty in advance whether a test is actually acceptable.
  • PCR tests from the most respected hospitals in the world are rejected if they aren’t on the list even as rapid antigen tests from partners of partners have been considered valid.

The state has rejected tests they’ve accepted previously for the same passengers and rejected perfectly valid tests by mistake telling a family they had to quarantine for two weeks despite a negative test. (The state caught their error – after the family had landed back in California.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So the person took a test from a vendor (regardless of the pedigree of that vendor) that he did not know for certain was on the trusted partner list – and he’s surprised/wants to blame the state for it not being accepted.

    Sorry – that’s absolutely the traveler’s fault, not the State’s.

    You write: “It’s nearly impossible to know with certainty in advance whether a test is actually acceptable.” Wrong – Hawaii has published a list of trusted partners – it’s entirely knowable what tests are acceptable. There may be additional acceptable ones beyond that list.

    Why this guy didn’t get his test at one of known accepted partners is a choice he made. He and his family need to live with the consequences of that choice.

  2. Hawaii makes it absolutely clear that, for now at least, they do not want us. Some decisions (outlined in Gary’s previous posts) suggest that they may not want us in the foreseeable future either. Why go somewhere you are not wanted? I used to go to Hawaii twice every year for the past 25 years, but no more. I just returned from an amazing beach vacation in Puerto Rico after a year with no vacation at all. Puerto Rico was amazing!

  3. @Bob – you are wrong. The system they have set up is wrong, flawed and stupid if they don’t accept a negative test from the world famous Mayo Clinic.

  4. I went to Hawaii the first weekend that they reopened in October. Even though the guidelines for entry were constantly being changed and updated, it was abundantly clear where you must go for the test and what type of test is acceptable. If the family went to Walgreens and he elected not to, then they blame falls squarely on him. Mayo Clinic has 3 locations and there are Walgreens and CVS locations in each of those 3 cities.

  5. This guy may be an idiot my trip to HNL was seamless. Went thru Walgreens which was their trusted partners and had no issues .

  6. Who cares if this is the Mayo clinic? Can’t people just follow simple rules that are written in black and white in plain English? I guess following instructions is just plain too difficult these days.

    Whether the Mayo clinic is World Class is pointless. HI may not have their systems wired-up with the Mayo clinic to be able to verify that the test produced is not a fake one. Simple as that.

    On top of that, nobody puts Mayo on a Poke Bowl. Just sayin…

  7. The sad thing is the people counting on money from visitors to Hawaii are the real losers. Clearly these travelers made some serious mistakes, but at least to this non-medical person the state appears too rigid in its criteria as well. (Though granted islands are particularly sensitive to the risk of an epidemic starting.) Good sense that protects their people while not unnecessarily wrecking their economic foundation seems to be the goal. Can they do it? Who knows. Glad I was there, glad I’m not returning soon.

  8. Also wondering if Walgreens charges?? I hear yes and no. Some even say you need a doctors note for insurance to pay. Confused as why would a doctor say you need a note for a rapid covid test?

  9. Not sure why it’s the state’s fault that someone took a test from a vendor not on the list of approved testers. You can throw darts at the testers the state chose, but that’s a different conversation than traveler responsibility. Congrats on the click, though.

  10. Did he get his test from Mayo Clinic, or did he print a test result from the Internet? He knows, but Hawaii does not. I believe that Hawaii can verify the results from its trusted partner, possibly electronically. Whether they do that for every passenger, I’m not sure. But, they don’t have that verification process for non-trusted providers.

  11. Sorry Gary you are wrong, it does not matter to Hawaii if you do not go to the trusted lab it is a non starter, this is more CLICKBAIT….

  12. This article is so typical of why news articles are so full of it. Article makes it sound like Hawaii did something terrible and how horribly the man was treated. Hawaii website is very explicit as to where they will accept tests from. The process is simple I am here now. If the man would have read the website and followed the protocol it is simple.

  13. This is 100% on the passenger. The Hawaii list of trusted partners is extensive and clearly available. I just got back from a trip and it was seamless. It is more likely that they have to decline non trusted partners RESULTSas their system can only verify partners. My walgreens test automatically verified within seconds after uploading results.
    They have an average of 52 new cases a day in Hawaii versus other states that number in the hundreds or thousands. Their plan has worked in keeping numbers low, and it is very rare for passengers to be sent back. One passenger’s mistake isnt a reason to criticize the system.

  14. This story is a load of crap.

    I have been to Hawaii twice in the last few months. You register on their web site, go to one of the trusted providers listed on their web site (the Mayo Clinic is NOT one of them), answer a perfunctory medical questionnaire 24-hours in advance of arrival, they send you a bar code by e-mail, and you show that bar code on arrival.

    No problems. Someone tries to do their own thing and they are rejected. What a surprise. Really that hard to follow the clear procedures on the State web site?

    As to “trusted” providers, how does HI know you didn’t fake having a test with a falsified document? Trusted providers upload the results directly to the State so they know it is a valid test.

    Don’t want to go to Hawaii? Don’t go. But if you look at their COVID numbers compared to the mainland, it is pretty clear they have a better clue over there.

  15. Insane the inconsistencies with all of this testing criteria!!Mayo should be a trusted site and the idiot who did not think so needs more training…Standardization is the KEY if the state requires testing. or o to FLorida/Mexico /PR etc where things are sane

  16. As is well pointed out here, traveling to Hawaii is simple if you follow their well laid out directions…..deciding you will do it your own way and get tested with whoever you want is a bad plan….no matter who you chose. I’m sure Hawaii has their reasons for wanting trusted partners who have it set up to electronically check and verify…..this was the fault of the traveller.
    Gotta love seeing the people saying “Hawaii sucks come to Florida”…you are precisely the kind of tourist that is not welcome here. That means the percentage of MAGA hat morons that stay away and go to Florida the better. The caliber of tourist that does come to Hawaii that is respectful and not so judgemental are the ones that have a good time, the angry finger pointers not so much.

  17. Resolution of this confusion and chaos is simple — they don’t want any tourists/vacationers there, so be helpful them out and don’t go there. Go to Florida.

  18. My family traveled to Hawaii two months ago and I can assure you the process is exactly as advertised. Take a covid test from one of the accepted vendors, and you’ll be admitted without any issues or delays.

    As a self proclaimed “thought leader in travel” you should do some basic research before publishing sensational articles that support breaking Hawaii’s published travel guidelines.

  19. Why cant he go to the local walgreen in HI instead of fly back to LA and back?
    It doesn’t make sense, he might have been exposed to covid by flying so many times with lack of sleep.

  20. Attention to detail is always a good thing. There’s been enough bad publicity about Hawaii’s testing fussiness that one should descend into the particulars and find out what is actually required. I feel sorry for the guy, but he didn’t pay enough attention to detail.

  21. @Gary – You are wrong. You state in a comment “everything in this article is factual”. Yet the crux of the entire article is your statement “Hawaii’s ‘trusted lab’ program simply makes no sense if they reject results from the Mayo Clinic.” That is your opinion, NOT FACT.

    This entire article is nothing but clickbait. I agree with 95+% of your articles but this is a BIG disappointment especially from someone with your credentials. There is no need for this type of article as it diminishes all of your posts.

    You know I am unable to get a valid drivers license for my state of residence by going to a neighboring state even though the neighboring states OMV is known to be much more thorough and efficient than my state. Why? Because it’s against the rules and the rules are published. That’s the same reason a member of the family was rejected upon arrival in Hawaii. It was against the rules and the rules are published.

  22. Terribly misleading article. I went to Hawaii a few weeks ago and it was very clear which covid tests that they accepted.

  23. The PCR test at Walgreens is free, no matter if you have insurance or not. I ran into two problems with Walgreen tests though. First, I did not receive the result within 72 hours of nasal swabbing. Second, the official report from Quest Diagnostic (that’s where Walgreen sent the sample to) had the time stamp wrong, 12 hours earlier than it actually happened and it appeared to be outside the 72 hour exemption window. Fortunately I also took a test at Kaiser and got the result a little after 24 hours.

  24. “…with the husband flying back across the ocean to Los Angeles…” Well he sure ain’t flying back over land… 😉

  25. @controller1 – you haven’t disputed any of the facts in the article. You say my normative conclusion is wrong, but do not even say why. My claim that excluding mayo clinic makes no sense is ‘wrong’ but that’s not disagreeing with a fact, and you don’t even offer a reason for disagreement.

  26. You’re really gonna side with the idiot that didn’t/refused to follow instructions and cry foul after the fact??? Smhd

  27. The title could have also been:
    “Man attempted to enter Hawaii with disallowed Covid-19 test”

    This also would have been the truth. All about the spin isn’t it?

  28. What shitpost of an article, you cant read a website for directions, go pound sand. Aint no got time to cry for some rando rich guy who thinks the rules should be bent for them. Be glad you dont have to take a test to visit another part of your state.

  29. Gary: two conclusions from your article: 1. Hawaii should offer a rapid test for those who didn’t get one. 2. It’s wrong for Hawaii to not accept a test from the Mayo Clinic.
    1. If the rapid test at an airport in Hawaii were offered instead of the required pretest, then the entire plane of passengers could be exposed to COVID19; lots of people won’t get tested before they fly, and then there will be many infected fliers. Then the infections will be much worse for the people of Hawaii, whom this program aims to protect.
    2. Without Mayo being a trusted partner, the passenger could have submitted a fake test result and Hawaii wouldn’t know.

    There are those who think COVID is no big deal, and for them this is a hassle. But we in Hawaii think Covid-19 is very serious, and we don’t want more people dying. I’ve gone through the travel testing myself, and it can be a pain or it can be easy, depending on circumstances. But the intent of the program is good and it has been mostly successful.

    Finally, Mayo ought to apply to be a trusted partner. As should more labs.

  30. Gary,

    You’re obviously struggling to save face here. Just admit that you posted a piece of sensational clickbait and let’s get on with reading the really substantive news, like: Video: Police Raid Florida Man’s Hotel Room, He Throws Knives And Trash Can At Them.

    Now that’s really news worth reading about!

    My time is way too valuable to put up with this sort of drivel. Bye bye, I’m unsubscribing.

  31. Sorry folks but those of you saying ‘he should have read the website’ are

    (1) excusing Hawaii’s stupidity, the point of this article isn’t the one guy it’s that Hawaii is failing to implement clear and consistent rules that both protect the state from the virus and support tourism. They should offer testing on arrival, it’s inexcusable they do not. And they have a nonsense list of ‘trusted partners’.

    (2) claiming there’s a logic to Hawaii’s list when there isn’t. Saying ‘just read the list, it’s clear what to do’ is simply false. Here’s the list:

    When you fly American Airlines to Hawaii, American will prompt you to get a test from LetsGetChecked. Do you see LetsGetChecked anywhere on this list? No you do not. What should you assume from that?

    LetsGetChecked is accepted by Hawaii, even though they aren’t on the list, because American Airlines is a partner of Hawaii and they are a partner of a partner. Does the list say that partners of partners are partners…? No, it says “The state of Hawai‘i will ONLY accept Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from TRUSTED TESTING AND TRAVEL PARTNERS.” But the claim on Hawaii’s website is NOT TRUE.

    Again, my point is not about this guy. This guy’s case illustrates the mess of Hawaii’s testing regime. It’s so complicated that their own website gets it wrong (and there have been cases of their own employees rejecting valid tests, and accepting ones not ‘on the list’).

  32. Hawaii and Hawaiians have long had great resentment towards vacationers from the mainland. You get treated like crap and are supposed to be happy to be in “paradise”.

    They haven’t gotten my money for more than a decade, and won’t be getting any in the future. They shouldn’t get yours. And if the tourism industry suffers and individuals suffer — they are getting what they wanted: no tourists.

    There are tons of places around the world that will be glad to see USA tourists once this virus crap is over, and at a far better price — support those who genuinely want your business and you.

  33. The constant whining is deafening. This douche didn’t follow some simple instructions, got caught, and faced the consequences. It’s all very clearly spelled out; simple as that.

    Hawaii gets to make the rules, not you. And contrast the number of people dying per 100,000 in Hawaii vs. Florida, and it’s very clear which government has their people’s backs (hint: in Florida people are dying at a rate that’s 6x higher, banana republic-style)

  34. Exactly the reason I cancelled my planned trip to Hawaii. Wild requirements, and let’s not forget it is a U.S. state. Just go to Miami instead.

  35. Gary,

    To address your response above,
    you can argue with who is on the testing list, but the actual steps to register, upload your test results and pass thru Hawaii officials at arrival is very simple. You can cherry pick individual instances of error all you want.

    There are hundreds of not thousands of testing entities and all Hawaii did was to set up their auto verification system to recognize the formatted results from each lab. Again you can argue whether Mayo should be included but that’s the list HI chose. Why can’t people just follow instructions?

    Lastly on their list of testing partners HI makes it clear that testing on behalf of airlines (American United and Hawaiian) is accepted.

  36. Jake, A guy goes to the wrong testing place and you call him a douche. You don’t know this guy, his family or friends whether he’s good, bad or medium and yet you call him a douche. No wonder our country is so F–d up.

  37. I’ve had the privilege of visiting over 100 countries and 46 states. Hawaii isn’t one of them.

    It’s been a solid arrangement. Don’t think any locals will lose sleep knowing I won’t be coming for a visit. And I can feel good knowing my money is spent in places that appreciate my business. Everybody wins.

    If bad service, high prices & bureaucratic red tape are acceptable to you in exchange for a days in paradise, so be it. No need for anyone to get in a tizzy. Plenty of sunny beaches in the world to suit everyone.

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