Reduce Hawaii Airport Stress During World-Class Transformation

Honolulu Airport

Airports in general are stressful environments and Hawaii is no exception. If the security lines and ever-changing rules and attitudes don’t get you, then the boarding procedures surely will. Here are some tips for transiting our airports on your next Hawaii vacation.

A report out today by Amadeus (the global airline distribution system) points out that airports world wide are in a state of change and will be unrecognizable over the next one to two decades. That’s probably a good thing since they also report “43% of travellers told us they wanted to reestablish the ‘wonder and magic’ that was historically associated with air travel.”

Hawaii Airports Modernization

Hawaii is leading the way to modernization inasmuch as we’re already in the midst of a $2.3 Billion airport makeover that began five years ago. That  in awareness of the need to transform Hawaii’s all-important but aging airports’ infrastructure.

Unique issues associated with Hawaii travel

You should be aware that Hawaii’s airports present some added challenges that can be stress inducing. Here are some tips on what to expect in that regard and how to make your Hawaii airport experience a more positive one.

Luggage scanning/inspection by USDA

This procedure is completely separate from TSA and is worth thinking about in advance. It takes place prior to airline check-in here in Hawaii. The purpose is to assure compliance with USDA’s regulations governing importation of fruits and vegetables from Hawaii to the US Mainland. As a general rule of them, if in doubt, don’t bring it. If you have questions, you can check with USDA or feel free to leave comments below.

1. Fresh Hawaii pineapple and coconut are permitted upon inspection. These do not need to be purchased at the airport and in fact we suggest buying them elsewhere, like at a local farmers market.

2. Papayas may be imported only if they have been specially treated. These can be bought at the airport and are marked specifically for import.

USDA carry-on inspection

An inspection of your carry-on luggage will also take place. Depending on the airport and flight, this may occur together with or separate from the TSA screening. Your items will be inspected by X-ray to determine compliance with the above rules. Note that in addition to above whole fruit rules, even fresh fruit salad may be prohibited upon inspection.

Food and drink at Hawaii Airports

Hawaii airports’ concessions are also in the process of being upgraded. As a part of that, new and more interesting food options are being added. That having been said, here are some important things to keep in mind.

1. Hours of operation. Some of Hawaii’s smaller airports’ food services and stores are not open during the same hours as the airport. If you’re flying out late at night or early in the morning you could be sorely disappointed when looking to purchase items prior to flight. Plan accordingly and pack your own food. Have you read How To Eat Well At 30,000 Feet?

2. Water at the airport. Bring  your own bottle that can be filled with chilled water from a fountain or be prepared to pay up to $5 or more for water. Bottled water dispensing machines are now in place at Hawaii airports.

Your Hawaii airport tips

Many of you are savvy Hawaii travelers. Please share your airport tips for others to enjoy. Mahalo

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  1. Ali says

    In the Kona airport don’t wait in the long line in the restaurant to buy bottled water. You can get it at the newstand much faster.

  2. Davin says

    HNL (Honolulu) has the only Pinkberry on the island… the food choices at HNL are waaaay better than before, and even the interisland terminal has some decent choices now. Starbucks, CPK, Lahaina Chicken Company, Burger King. But really, the Pinkberry in the Main Terminal is where it’s at, yo!

    I think the no-gum rule may apply to ALL Hawaii airports. I know there is a sign at the OGG (Kahului, Maui) newstand citing cleanliness issues as to why gum is not sold at that airport.

  3. says

    This is random but there is no gum for sale at the Honolulu airport. I discovered this when I looked for it once for my kids to chew on our flight to keep their ears clear during take-off and landing.

  4. says

    If you have time to kill enjoy the splendid gardens within the secure area. Be aware that you will not hear terminal announcements in the gardens, so be sure taht there are no gate changes looming in the horizon.

    The same goes for the wikiwiki terminal shuttles. You canbe incommunicado for twenty minutes during terminal transit.