HONOLULU (KHON2) — Busy airports and busy streets, a sign that the Holidays are here, and travel experts predict the day before Christmas Eve will be the busiest travel day of the season.
Pack your patience, that is the message from transportation officials to people traveling before Christmas. They remind passengers to show up with plenty of time before departing as airports are expected to be busy this winter season.
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“Thanksgiving weekend, Thursday through Saturday we saw sort of near capacity at two of the three parking structures,” State Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Jai Cunningham said. “So the advice would be if you don’t have to park if you could catch a cab, could catch an Uber or a Lyft, or if you got friends who could maybe drop you off or family.”
This year, air travel numbers are more than double compared to this time last year, at the peak of the pandemic.
Travelers should get to the airport two to three hours before departure, especially if they need to return a rental car.
The TSA Federal Security Director Jenel Chang said the checkpoint lines could also get long. At certain times of the day, it could take half an hour to get through TSA screening. On Maui, it could be about 40 minutes to go through TSA.
The agency ramped up hiring to help with the demand.
“We are fully staffed across Honolulu, we are actually over our allocation here in Honolulu just in anticipation of passenger loads increasing,” Chang said. “We do have a few vacancies on the other islands, much less than what we normally have this time of year.”
Chang said lines will go much faster if food items and liquids are removed from carry-on bags.
Some travelers like Esther Xu who is visiting from Chicago, are choosing to pack light and save checked baggage fees and time.
Xu said, “We did carry on only so that was really helpful not having to wait for baggage for them to come out.”
For those who show up early and have time to spare, the concessions at the airport are back open.
Cunningham said, “Once you get through TSA if you needed to have breakfast, you wanted to have a little lunch that’s there, if you got time to kill and you want to grab a magazine the stores are open.”
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Passengers are reminded the state’s Safe Travels program remains in effect. People flying into Hawaii will need to demonstrate proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test taken 48 hours before travel in order to avoid quarantine orders.