Officials hope that a new security screening lane and a 200-foot tent will help give some relief to travelers in Kahului Airport’s long, snaking security checkpoint lines.
Throughout the summer, travelers have been spilling out of the terminal and into the sun waiting to be screened by TSA, with the crowds usually gathering between 10 am and 2 pm
But by the end of this month, TSA is aiming to get another checkpoint open and airport officials are planning to put up a 200-foot-long tent purchased by airlines to shade travelers as they wait in the lines, said Marvin Moniz, Maui District Airports manager, on Thursday.
Daniel Velez, a TSA spokesperson, said that TSA is in the process of installing Credential Authentication Technology, or CAT machines, at the airport. Cabling and electrical work is also being done to facilitate the installation of the equipment, all at night when travelers are not present. The machines help with screening and verifying things such as IDs and flight reservations, according to the TSA website.
Also, four explosive-detection canine teams that recently graduated from the TSA Canine Training Center in San Antonio, Texas, were sent to Maui and are now screening passengers and providing “an added layer of security,” Velez said.
Moniz said the new checkpoint will join the single checkpoint that is located alongside the arrival escalators near the baggage claim.
He anticipates these two checkpoints will be used to screen the TSA PreCheck passengers, which will allow the seven checkpoints next to the ticketing lobby to process all other passengers. Currently one checkpoint line next to the ticketing lobby is used for TSA PreCheck.
Moniz said having seven lanes together “should be a lot quicker.”
He added that the 200-foot tent has yet to arrive but hopes it will be up around Aug. 29.
He is hoping that the additional checkpoint and tent will be up in time for “the Labor Day rush.”
But in the meantime, travelers who are flying out of Maui between 10 am and 2 pm are still advised to arrive two to two and a half hours ahead of time, Moniz said. Those with flights outside of those times should arrive between an hour to an hour and 15 minutes prior to their flight.
Moniz said the crowds are due to various reasons, such as airlines increasing their flight schedules for the summer right in that 10 am to 2 pm window, along with airlines bringing larger jets to the airport.
During peak times, as many as 4,500 travelers may go through security screening, Moniz estimated.
He said since travel is still slow to Europe and Asia, airlines are bringing their larger jets to Hawaii, which is the next-longest run compared to those regions.
He also thinks the crowds were exacerbated by summer travel.
Overall, Moniz said they are seeing some slowdown in the lines as Thursday’s rush was done before 1 pm He also attributes some of the slowdown to travelers taking part in TSA’s PreCheck, which is an expedited screening program.
The airport also has longer-term plans to add five more screening lanes on the side of the airport closer to the entrance, near the United ticketing counters.
The project is currently in design and will take around two years to be up and running.
TSA also offered tips to help speed up the security screening process, including:
• When packing, start with an empty bag. Those who do this are less likely to bring a prohibited item through a checkpoint.
• Plan your arrival time and check high traffic times. At the checkpoint, have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.
• Secure items in your carry-on, not in screening bins. Removing items from your pockets such as phones, keys, lip balm and other items takes time and creates stress. Keeping them in carry-on bags will eliminate these issues and is more sanitary.
• Enroll in TSA PreCheck at tsa.gov/precheck.
Visit tsa.gov for more information.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.