HONOLULU (KHON2) — Videos of long lines at the Kahului Airport surfaced this past week, calling attention to the need for improvements. Georgia resident Cindy Koon was one of the passengers in line on Friday, July 22, waiting in the heat for almost 35 minutes before making it to the covered portion of the airport.
“It took about two hours total to get through the lines,” said Koon. “We made it to our gate with 10 minutes to spare.”
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During Koon’s first time visiting Maui, she traveled through five different airports, one of them being Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is known for being the busiest airport in the world.
“Our wait times through TSA were never more than 15 to 20 minutes. We were shocked at the number of people and length of the lines when we arrived at the Maui airport,” she said.
Koon said the company they used to rent a Jeep encouraged them to get to the airport two to three hours before their scheduled flight.
“My son and his girlfriend had visited Maui in March. They didn’t experience a long wait time at the airport when they flew home. For that reason, we felt like the encouraged early arrival seemed a bit excessive,” Koon said. “I am so glad we took her advice.”
Koon arrived 2 hours and 45 minutes before their departure flight but barely made it to the gate on time. During the wait, she saw airport employees handing out water, stationed in the grassy area closest to the airport next to the sidewalk.
“They were not visible to us at first because of the lines and the number of people,” said Koon. “That was the only water station I saw. We were in line about 30 minutes before we reached the area where they were giving out water. The staff was friendly to us.”
When they arrived, Koon said there were paramedics rushing out of a fire truck to attend to someone. She overheard that this person had overheated. Koon usually keeps water with her, so even though she and her kids were hot, they were otherwise fine.
“I was concerned about those who had young children and especially older travelers,” she said. “It was very hot, and at times, the lines were not moving much at all.”
In the future, Koon thinks it would be helpful to see tents set up for shade over the sidewalks. More water stations are also needed.
“I also think some sort of communication to travelers exiting the airport (upon arrival) informing them of the need to arrive early to make their flights is necessary,” she added.
“It’s a running joke in our family that I’m always late. It’s mostly true,” said Koon. “I was telling the kids how I felt it was unnecessary to arrive so early to the airport. I’m thankful my kids like being on time. They outvoted me, and we got there as suggested and made it home on time.”
With all that said, Koon said the long lines did not dampen their spirits or leave a negative thought. She said Maui is truly the most beautiful place she’s ever been to and visiting was a dream come true.
“I certainly hope I have the opportunity to visit again,” said Koon.