Mauka Concourse at HNL - What's missing?

Something Big Went Missing at Honolulu Airport: Visitors Take Notice

The new and in many ways beautiful 230,000-sq. ft. Mauka Concourse at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) accommodates up to 12 planes and should help to eliminate prime time pressure between 10 am and 3 pm. It opened in August of 2021, adding nearly 30% to the airport’s gate capacity. But as pretty as it is, the term “putting lipstick on a pig” may apply. For as much as it cost (more than a quarter billion dollars) and the capacity and cosmetic uplift it gives to the appearance of the aging Honolulu airport, you’re in for some surprises, one of which is that you’d better still pack your lunch.

Mauka Concourse at HNL

The terminal is primarily used by Hawaiian Airlines, which said when it opened, “The Mauka Concourse will offer an improved experience for Kamaaina travelers and visitors, our employees, and all other airport users.”

Gone are those amazing and unforgettable floral fragrances unique to HNL.

We’ll add that the new concourse is air-conditioned and fully enclosed. For as many years as we’ve both been flying to and from Honolulu, we have adored the unique open-air feeling that hits you on arrival and the literal smell-the-flowers outdoor atmosphere that has defined the airport. That is sadly missing now.

Editor Jeff recently flew from the Mauka Concourse to review Hawaiian Airlines economy class to Los Angeles. Luckily he had packed his own food and wasn’t hungry at the time. Nonetheless, the surprise was there was no place to dine, and a sign directed him back to the interisland Terminal 1’s grim food court for options. The terminal looked like it could have been in any big city.

There are plans for additional food services within the new concourse, but to date, nothing is happening. The problem is that the building permits have not been approved for whatever reasons.

Grim HMS Host remains the concessionaire for HNL food services.

A pop-up doughnut shop and bar were to open initially, followed by other restaurant options later. But nothing has happened thus far. City Planning and the Honolulu Fire Department have rejected various HMS Host plans. In addition, the Wastewater department said there was no application for a connection to the airport’s sewage system. And that, more than one year after the huge concourse opened. Something doesn’t add up here!

The food at the airport has been rated the worst of all airports surveyed in the U.S., and it is understandable why. What doesn’t make sense is why Hawaii has allowed this situation to continue. Just letting our minds wander, countless possibilities could make the food at HNL a gastronomic and cultural standout. We’re reminded of the incredible food options at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Instead, food choices at the closest Terminal 1 are fast food (Burger King) which closed by 5:00 pm., and Stinger Ray’s. We last ended up at Starbucks.

Share your thoughts about the new Mauka Concourse at HNL.

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87 thoughts on “Something Big Went Missing at Honolulu Airport: Visitors Take Notice”

  1. Lame. The open air and age gave it character and was part of the charm of flying to Honolulu. Bummer they felt the need to “upgrade” facilities that were part of the experience.

    1. The so-called “Experience” became very Lame when the walk to claim baggage became a marathon without directions. The “Experience” somehow has become much less appealing than airports in some “Third World Countries.” The Aloha Greetings, any of the other Positives that had been a wonderful greeting have disappeared into the inactive volcanoes never to be experienced again. The Jasmine in the air has been replaced by the exhaust fumes from airplanes and the feelings of hospitality and friendliness have been mostly replaced with the Ignorance of grumpy older workers. If This is what the Hawaiian Experience has become there’s no wonder why many won’t return, they could go to New York or New Jersey for that!

  2. Airports around the world need to get with modern world food culture and offer vegan, plant based menus. As a vacation destination even Maui is horrible at this. While Maui does have a few small vegan restaurants, the vast majority of hospitality businesses here do not serve decent plant-based fare.

    1. The Actual Demand isn’t there, at least not enough to support entire restaurants devoted to it. Maybe someday in the future it will be but for now the flatulent cows have cornered that market. That brings up the subject of why plant based entire meals for the human race isn’t a good idea for Climate Change, Flatulence. Cows are being blamed for Climate Change, will it only worsen when all humans are forced to become vegan? Of Course it will, 8+ Billion People releasing their Flatulence will add significant amounts of Green House Gasses! They will then need to Cull Humanity to make things better.

  3. Went thru this extension coming back from Hilo. Nice, new, big airport style. No concessions, long walk to baggage, and lonely feeling. Surprise, concession building permits slowing making it a functional space. Grassroot has it correct, local Hawaiian Government has paralyzed every facet of our society. Even Fast food at Ala Moana Center builds out rather than be delayed by a very ineffective Government.

  4. Just flew out from the new concourse on 10/26. Nice start, with huge passenger amenity upgrade potential. The biggest problem is that HDOT runs it. So many delays on all of their projects. Create a port authority that focuses on the airport itself and perhaps they can right the ship.

  5. Entrenched old boy network does nothing for airport unless kickbacks of some sort are on the burner. FAA has many decades worth of issues with airport, run by state DOT. No miracles on the horizon…


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