Bed Bugs In Hawaii Travel Go Beyond Honolulu Airport Issues
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Bed Bugs In Hawaii Travel Go Beyond Honolulu Airport Issues

Sep 11, 2023

June 5, 2023 by Beat of Hawaii 10 Comments

After bed bugs invaded the terminal used by Southwest Hawaii flights at Honolulu airport, we revisited the problems of bedbugs in travel.

Last week Hawaii DOT director Ed Sniffen reported that bugs had made a home at the E gates in Terminal 2. At first, DOT thought the problem could be easily rectified by removing those things they thought were attracting the bed bugs. Not so.

By the next day, DOT heard from Southwest Airlines, which provided more samples of the bugs. At that point, the DOT dispatched staff (we didn't know that DOT was bug-killing qualified). They began to perform deep cleaning and carpet removal, after which an exterminator was summoned to apply pest controls at three E gates, 5, 6, and 7. Those gates were closed temporarily.

DOT later said that additional measures would continue for three weeks to prevent reoccurrence. We hope that estimate is more accurate than what they gave for fixing runway problems at Honolulu Airport, for which they are also responsible.

Flight operations have thus far not been delayed due to the cleaning.

Previously American Airlines had bedbug infestations on its widebody 777/787 fleets, which caused an uproar among passengers and crew. Crewmembers on rest break were bitten. The use of insecticides was also severe and caused further issues among the crew.

At one point, American's flight attendants union said, "We received countless reports this week from concerned Flight Attendants who have experienced various health issues after using crew bunks on our widebody fleet."

As for other airlines, none are immune, and bed bugs still become a problem intermittently. Last year a family was covered in bites from bed bugs following a British Airways flight. And bed bugs are known to be frequent flyers in first class as much as those in economy.

While the name bedbugs make it seem like those are the only places you’ll find these bloodsuckers, they are common in public transportation (think airliners), hotels, and elsewhere.

Bed bugs typically enter the aircraft through passengers’ carry-on luggage. From there, they move around and end up in the upholstery or carpeting of the plane. They can also enter others’ carry-ons and wind up in unsuspecting passengers’ homes, hotels, or vacation rentals (such as in the graphic video below).

Unlike most of us on flights to Hawaii, bedbugs always have free meals – and that's us!

How to avoid bed bugs in your bags:

Also known as Cimex lectularius, bedbugs have a beak to penetrate the skin. They inject an anesthetic (very considerate!) so you don't realize you’re being bitten and an anticoagulant to keep your blood from clotting.

It's interesting to note that WestJet Canadian Airlines said their aircraft are cleaned every 24 hours to prevent bedbugs.

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