HONOLULU (KHON2) — Chaos at airports has become the norm lately for stranded and delayed passengers. We wanted to know what Hawaii’s airport managers did to deal with the onslaught?
Always Investigating asked what steps the state took at airports on each island, and how it’s using any lessons learned to smooth out travel for future problems.
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Ed Sniffen, the director-designate of the state Department of Transportation said Hawaii’s airports were impacted as mass cancelations and delays cascaded across the nation, but it could have been worse.
“We didn’t see the big slumber parties that other national airports had in different states,” Sniffen said, “but definitely we had our share of people stuck at the airports.”
And that posed an operational challenge for Hawaii’s network of airports as people got a bit edgy from a travel day gone awry.
“It was good that we had security staff on board to make sure that we kept these tense situations from escalating,” Sniffen said. “They just said, ‘Everybody stay cool.’ I mean, they were really nice with everybody, but just showing presence off throughout ensures that things just stay calm.”
The DOT deployed extra resources to make sure the bare necessities were covered.
“We had our janitorial staff extend their timeframes to ensure that we could cover all the cleanup that we had to do out there,” Sniffen said.
Airport tenants and restaurants also stepped up.
“We really thank our concession or partners that kept open up to make sure that we have provisions available for people during those times,” Sniffen said. “They added more people to make sure that they could provide for the people out there. In some cases, they extended their timeframes in that in the airports.”
What about the sea of orphaned bags we saw in footage from mainland airports?
“I checked in with all of our airport managers, we didn’t have that kind of issue that the mainland had,” Sniffen said.
KHON2 asked, does the situation give the DOT some ideas for the future?
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“Definitely. I think we’re going to be ‘hot washing all’ of this in the next two weeks, so we can talk story with all of our airport managers, with all of our staff to see what we could do better in the future given a situation like this again, because we know it will happen,” Sniffen said. “And we’ll start addressing situations like this, or like Maui when during the summertime lines got long. We’ll start adjusting things down to ensure that we have short-term improvements that we can put in place to minimize impacts to the public and maximize the experience here.”