You may want to get off the beach an hour earlier than planned, and here’s why. Read on for our suggestions on the TSA travel advisory out this week about, and what to expect in Hawaii this summer. Bottom line is that Hawaii about to see a surge in visitors that may result in extremely long lines.
“We have so many additional flights with other airlines and new routes, larger aircraft as you’re probably aware that has in of itself caused the number of passengers coming through the checkpoints to spike.” — Lorie Dankers, TSA spokesperson. She went on to say that all but one of Hawaii’s airports are fully staffed, and that their goal is to keep lines to under 30 minutes. “We are still recruiting on Lihue to hire some additional officers.”
In summer 2018, TSA screened more than 5 million passengers at five Hawaii airports, including just under 3 million at Honolulu International Airport. Summer 2019 is expected to break that record.
Here’s our take on TSA Travel advisory on Hawaii.
In our experience, TSA lines in Hawaii have become completely unpredictable. On one recent occasion, lines were so long at Lihue that Jeff missed his flight entirely. He had arrived at the airport 2 hours in advance of his departure, and that just didn’t cut it. Apparently due to under-staffing, only one checkpoint was open. On the next occasion, braced for another round of the same, both of us were extremely pleased (and surprised) to find the entire screening process took under 20 minutes.
How to reduce lines and plan for such variability.
Arrive early. TSA is recommending travelers arrive 3 hours in advance when flying from HNL. At other Hawaii airports, they are recommending 2 hours, although as we just said, that did not work for us reliably.
Look for less crowded checkpoints. It doesn’t hurt to check and see if a line in one area of the airport is much than another. That was how we got through in under 20 minutes last time.
Avoid prohibited carry-on items like liquids. “Just keep that in mind with prohibited items, they do cut down on the efficiency and speed of people making it through the security checkpoint.” — TSA.
Consider TSA PreCheck. That usually saves a lot of time, but we have found, that on occasion, that line can actually be longer than the regular line, at least here in Hawaii.
Avoid the busiest times when possible. Those are typically Thursdays through Sundays, and from 9a-1p and 7p-11p. That is when the bulk of Hawaii departures occur (inter-island and trans-Pacific).
Organize carry on bags. Be sure you can quickly remove electronic devices, appropriately packed liquids and food to not hold up the line.
Wear easy to remove shoes. Anything hard to remove, bulky or cumbersome just slows down the line.
Bonus suggestion at HNL.
One tip we love to share about Honolulu International Airport is to visit the lovely and unique airport gardens. These offer sunny and shady areas and make for a perfect and restful picnic spot too, if you are lucky enough to have extra time once clearing security and before for your flight.
The Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese Gardens were built with the airport in the early 1960’s. The gardens were intended to depict the various cultural influences on our “island living.” Paths, bridges and stepping stones connect the three gardens. There are sculptures and water features including garden ponds and lakes which are symbolic of intermingling of cultures in Hawaii.