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Expect Delays As Lihue Airport Kauai Security Upgraded

Yesterday, TSA and the Hawaii Department of Transportation announced Monday that Lihue Airport on Kauai is receiving important upgrades that’ll directly impact visitors to Kauai. Read on for what that means regarding longer lines.

The installation of four advanced, “computed tomography (CT) X-ray scanners” within the security checkpoint at Lihue Airport is happening now. It began this week and will be completed with the first scanner becoming operational by the end of next week.

TSA warned travelers about possible delays during implementation.

Just what you want to hear, I know. During the installation, TSA is advising Lihue travelers to arrive at the airport “more than two hours prior to flight departure due to high departing passenger volumes and installation work in the security checkpoint.” Our recent article on reducing travel stress may be helpful to read before you arrive at the Lihue airport.

The purpose of the new CT scanners is to speed the checking of carry-on baggage at TSA checkpoints. These scanners use a “sophisticated algorithm as they generate a 3-D image of the contents of the carry-on bag. A TSA officer can manipulate the 3-D X-ray image on-screen to allow for a better view of the bag’s contents, ultimately reducing the number of bag checks that are required.” Sounds like good news to us, once it is completed.

TSA said that when processed by a CT unit, “travelers can leave everything in their carry-on bag, including electronics larger than a cell phone and food.” TSA also asked that passengers be aware that “the opening to the X-ray tunnel on a CT unit is slightly smaller than on a traditional X-ray unit…TSA advises travelers not to force larger items into the tunnel, but to ask a TSA officer for assistance.” TSA said that all carry-on items CT-processed must be within a bin.

New “Credential  Authentication Technology (CAT)” at Lihue Airport.

The TSA has also just installed four “that are able to confirm the validity of a traveler’s photo identification and confirm flight information in real-time. When travelers approach the travel document checking podium and CAT is in use, they need to hand over their photo identification to the TSA officer. CAT units are designed to identify fraudulent documents and those that have been tampered with.”

TSA hopes this will improve the visitor experience at Lihue Airport.

“The introduction of these new technologies at LIH will raise the bar for security operations and improve the customer travel experience… TSA remains committed to providing the highest level of security with the greatest efficiency. Both of these technologies help to make this happen.”

Be aware of the busiest times at Lihue Airport and plan accordingly.

TSA said that “travelers can expect that the security checkpoints at LIH will be extremely busy from 10:00 AM to about 2:00 PM. The busiest days to travel are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.”

TSA said it attempts to get all travelers through the screening process within 30 minutes, and PreCheck passengers through within 20 minutes.

Travel advice.

TSA continues to ask travelers to arrive early and prepared for the screening experience to allow for timely completion of every step of the travel process. To help things go smoothly, please follow these tips:

  • Listen for guidance from TSA officers for instructions regarding these new technologies.
  • Empty your pockets before arriving in the checkpoint. Place wallets, phones, keys, sunglasses, and other loose items from your pockets inside your carry-on bag instead of placing them in a bin. This will ensure personal items aren’t left behind.
  • Follow the rules for traveling with liquids. Gels, liquids and aerosols are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less in carry-on luggage. The general definition for this rule is that if you can spill it, spray it, pump it, or pour it, then it’s subject to the liquids restriction rule. Anything in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should travel in checked baggage.
  • Pack smart and don’t bring prohibited items to the checkpoint. If you’re not sure, download the MyTSA app and use the “Can I Bring?” feature. Another option is to contact @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger to get answers to your travel questions.
  • Enroll in TSA PreCheck®. Experience a smoother screening process by enrolling in TSA PreCheck®. Eligible travelers don’t need to remove shoes, belts, light outerwear, laptops, electronics larger than a cell phone or travel-size liquids from carry-on luggage.

Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Extra time may be needed for parking, at airline check-in counters and at the security checkpoint. There’s no substitute for arriving early and prepared. Sometimes that’s easier said than done for us.

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5 thoughts on “Expect Delays As Lihue Airport Kauai Security Upgraded”

  1. Going through security on our return flight to the mainland on Hawaiian last March was the worst experience ever. We return home to visit friends and family every year and always fly Hawaiian. We had First Class Tickets, NO Separate Line for First Class. We are Enrolled in Pre-check, No Separate Line for Pre-check. We all had to crawl along in the same serpentine line in the heat of the day for a good Hour. Being a loyal Hawaiian Air customer and being enrolled in Pre-Check got us nothing.

    Very Disappointing, to say the least! Thank you for letting me vent.


    1. Hi Jon.

      We’re sorry to hear of your negative experience when departing Hawaii. Thanks for sharing that with us.


  2. One of the issues I have encountered at LIH with TSA Precheck is that I have knee replacements and need to go through the full body scan, which was not available in my line and I had to take a security card and switch to the other line. Will any of the new technologies being installed help alleviate this?

    1. Hi Jim.

      Great question. We looked to see what TSA said, and it is merely this: Advanced imaging technology can facilitate your screening and reduces the likelihood of a pat-down. Inform the TSA officer that you have an artificial knee, hip, other metal implant or a pacemaker, defibrillator or other internal medical device. You should not be screened by a walk-through metal detector if you have an internal medical device such as a pacemaker. Consult with your physician prior to flying. If you choose to not be screened through the advanced imaging technology or you alarm the walk-through metal detector, you will undergo a pat-down screening.”

      It may depend on which type of device with which you are screened. And hopefully, others can share their experience.


    2. In reading Jim H’s comment it reminded me of another issue we had going through the security line. After weaving and sweating through the security line and placing my check-in items on the belt, I was directed to leave and go to another line as I have an implant. That separated me from all of my valuables. Hardly Secure, right!

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