Honolulu International Airport is already busy heading into Memorial Day weekend.
Travelers already know they need to arrive early so they can check in on time and go through security.
Many KHON2 spoke with say they weren’t anticipating the large crowds Thursday, but waited in security lines for approximately 35 minutes or less.
“Usually we get here to the airport two hours beforehand,” said traveler Mary Monte. “I wasn’t expecting it to be this busy coming in, especially when the shuttle just dropped us off and there’s a line outside just to check in.”
Travelers with TSA PreCheck, an expedited security screening program, reported wait times of approximately 13 minutes. Non-TSA-PreCheck travelers waited between 30 and 35 minutes.
“Actually the lines and everything have been moving pretty quickly, so thank goodness it’s been going well,” said traveler Rachael Bessent.
Hawaiian Airlines said the longest line Thursday was the bag check-in line, because TSA had fewer resources to screen checked-in bags.
This comes after a TSA spokesperson confirmed the agency was reallocating resources at airports.
This weekend, some Hawaiian Airlines employees from different departments like finance, accounting, and customer service, will be wearing light blue “Team Kokua” shirts.
They’re volunteering to answer travelers’ questions and help speed up the check-in process.
“The most common question this morning has been where to check in actually,” said Hawaiian Airlines employee and Team Kokua volunteer Debbie Nakanelua Richards. “It is very busy. It will get busier, but people have remained calm and cooperative.”
President and CEO Mark Dunkerley says it’s best to play it safe this memorial day weekend when it comes to showing up on time.
“This isn’t really the weekend to show up just in time for your flight, because we do anticipate the lines are going to be long,” he said.
Dunkerley says the airline has increased the number of staff on duty this weekend in addition to company volunteers who are helping out.
“The resources have been constrained. There just aren’t enough TSA agents, not enough check points to manage the flow of customers,” he said.
Travelers did run into issues checking in for a short period Thursday night, with check in kiosks temporarily going offline. But this issue was eventually fixed and travelers were able to check in using the kiosks without a problem.
A Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson says the busiest times for passengers are between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Friday will be the busiest day of the whole weekend.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation released the following statement:
“We recognize the operational implications of large travel volumes and remain concerned about extended wait times during peak hours at State airports. We will continue to work with TSA on line management. TSA has reported it has authorized overtime if needed over the Memorial Day weekend and additional checkpoints will be opened during peak periods. We encourage people to allocate extra time to pass through security checkpoints, especially if they are traveling between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Reducing carry-on luggage will assist in the screening process. Check the TSA website for prohibited items. Mainland customers, please proceed to the USDA baggage inspection before continuing to your appropriate ticket counters.”