New Honolulu Airport System To Vastly Improve Visitor Experience

Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is ranked among the worst airports in the U.S. in a 2022 survey of airports by JD Power. That, in spite of much charm of Hawaii and yesteryear that prevails at HNL, including its outdoor gardens.

Problems at HNL have prevailed for years, despite complaints from passengers and airlines, and without regard to the multi-billion dollar Hawaii airports renovation program. That included the still incomplete $270 Million terminal expansion and the new consolidated car rental facility, which to us at least, is a significant improvement.

Passengers lobby-screening by USDA to be eliminated.

Hawaii’s airports, including baggage handling facilities, have remained largely outdated and rundown with inferior technology, poor design, and terrible HDOT management. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also connecting to the new system in order to eliminate the need for passengers to separately have baggage screened in the lobby prior to checking bags. That has long been required in order to be certain that passengers comply with rules prohibiting importation of produce from Hawaii.

Yesterday, the Hawaii Department of Transportation/Airports announced the completion of a new baggage handling system that should vastly improve the experience of visitors and residents at Hawaii’s largest airport. At least in one important regard.

HDOT said, “Rolled out a $36 million baggage handling system at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The new system will make it more convenient for passengers to check their luggage and streamline the process.”

HNL checked baggage handling drastically improved.

HDOT reported, “Luggage checked in at Terminal 1 (used by Hawaiian Airlines) now goes through a maze of conveyor belts and sensors that first determines if additional inspections should be done by TSA or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” This is a big improvement.

Previous HNL luggage handling nightmares should be eliminated.

HDOT said that sensors positioned above the conveyor belt check bags, which are then sorted and sent through their Explosive Detection Systems (EDS).

This comes after years of baggage handling system issues at the venerated airport. Most recently, HDOT had problems at Terminal 2 that caused passenger delays. Those impacted Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, and United in March. Now with Terminal 1 completed, Terminal 2 will be next.

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14 thoughts on “New Honolulu Airport System To Vastly Improve Visitor Experience”

  1. Given that Hawaii, and especially Honolulu, are trying to discourage visitors, why spend all that money on the airport? Seems odd.

  2. What does one expect from the party in charge of Hawaii. Lots of money allocated that somehow and suspiciously doesn’t fix the problems. Even the airport name is a joke.
    Where does the money go or in whose pockets.

  3. Why aren’t there more security along the curbs, at the HNL airport I see cars parked for long periods of time and sometimes no drivers in the car. Whats going on? No security, is that OK? There should be security along the curbs directing people to move along.

  4. Hawai’i being an International destination has focused on other bs instead of what a real International destination does. Take a look at Singapore Hawai’i! If they can do it, so can we.

    Sadly, We in Hawai’i will be years behind and that is bad. Present and past Governors, Mayors and Hawai’i Congress have not done much about Hawai’i airports, starting with Honolulu.

    Also, many State/Federal employees have zero “aloha” and in Airlines like Delta, the “aloha” concept is Invisible! Rude, Nasty & Self Centered employees. I hope we can change this soon!

  5. I recently had to wait at Anchorage airport for a direct flight to Honolulu, their airport was spacious and easily navigated, and best of all the restaurant we had dinner in, had the best fish and chips I ever ate in the USA, it was a branch of a great restuarant in downtown Anchorage…and the prices were very reasonable…unlike the $13.00 dollar beer I had at HNL, when I departed for Alaska!

  6. The waste of money on the new terminal is terrible.
    Who was asleep during planning and permitting?
    They need seating, restrooms, restaurants, and gift shops!

  7. Thank you for this information. How soon before departure from Hawaii, should I leave for the airport. I have a 10pm flight on American.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Dani.

      We generally try to get to the airport two hours in advance. And that’s with TSA PreCheck. There’s usually time to spare but it certainly reduces stress.


  8. Hawaii’s airports have degraded dramatically over the years due to poor management and incompetent leadership by HDOT. They keep adding these random improvements, like a new bathroom in a sea of cracked tile and leaky water fountains, and think it is an “improvement to the visitor experience”. Go look at a well-managed airport like SEA, PDX, or SLC and you’ll understand how far behind we are. They are ruining KOA, which was an award-winning design back in the day.

  9. Great for HNL, but the baggage checkin/handling at LIH is something I’d expect if I were boarding a TWA Constellation to fly off the island. Check your bag(s) with the airline, lug them around to TSA screening, which often gets backed up. More than once, we’ve had bags not show up on interisland flights because of the back up. “Oh just wait…they will come in on the next flight.”

  10. HNL has never really been completed since the quonset hut terminal was torn down in the late 50’s. The current terminal has been through growing pains ever since. Always under construction, it was a never ending nightmare for residents and visitors alike to navigate. These improvements sound great but I’ll believe it when I see it. Please note, the travesty called HNL ,would be world class if it had a Port Authority to oversee it. The State has never done its job in operating HNL correctly.


  11. Based on my experience last October, I would rate it a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. Hopefully it’s improved when we change planes this October?

  12. Don’t really understand the dislike of HNL beyond the historical lack of food vendors.

    My experience is mostly term 2 and 3. It’s not a new airport but it’s functional.

    5he garden is special and worth a special trip.

    I wasn’t impressed when my checked bag somersaulted several times on the bag conveyor from the ceiling.

    On the other hand, a staff member directed me to the shuttle bus as an arriving passenger at terminal 2. “It’s a long walk.”

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