EXCLUSIVE: 2 of 4 TSA checkpoints closed at HNL's main terminal - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

EXCLUSIVE: 2 of 4 TSA checkpoints closed at Honolulu Airport's main terminal

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Transportation Security Administration has closed half of its security checkpoints at Honolulu International Airport's main terminal.

The TSA employees' union said the checkpoints are being closed because of budget cuts brought on by sequestration, something that TSA officials denied.  The TSA claimed the move was part of routine streamlining. 

Things are more crowded at Honolulu International Airport's checkpoint three, the overseas terminal's largest and busiest with six lanes. 

"I thought it was bad on the other side and he says 'Come this way' and it's just as bad," said Jack Herron of Wahiawa, who was traveling to Malaysia on vacation.  He waited in a line at checkpoint three late Monday morning.

A couple of weeks ago, the TSA closed two of four security checkpoints at the overseas terminal, including one that's close to American and Delta airlines check-in counters.  

That means some travelers are facing longer walks through terminals to get to the remaining checkpoints. 

And international flight crews are now walking farther since their checkpoint, which also served airport employees, closed late last month. 

In a statement, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said "over the past several years, TSA has routinely opened and closed security checkpoints and checkpoint lanes to determine impacts on efficiency." 

Melendez, who is based in Los Angeles, claimed "there has not been a negative impact on travelers." 

But TSA union Honolulu local Vice President Al Baang disagreed. 

"You can guess that it's going to be longer waiting lines," Baang said. 

Baang said passengers will have longer waits and TSA screeners will be under more pressure. 

"When that happens, our upper management is going to panic, because the airlines are going to panic, and then all the stuff is going to come back down again and everything falls on the TSO (transportation security officer)," Baang said. 

Baang represents about 1,000 TSA employees statewide, including roughly 700 on Oahu, who are members of the American Federation of Government Employees local 1234. 

The potential of longer waits doesn't worry one visitor on her way home from a vacation here. 

"I think it's a definite possibility, but what a great place to stand in line," said Jennae Klett of Issaqua, Wash., outside of Seattle. 

She'd rather be standing in line in Honolulu "then in Seattle," she said, with a laugh, as she and her family lined up to fly home from a 10-day vacation in Waikiki. 

No checkpoints in Honolulu's inter island terminal have been shut down. 

TSA officials said the closed checkpoints may be re-opened depending on passenger loads and if airlines add more flights. 

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