HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Airports in Hawaii could see more TSA agents thanks to a new $34 million congressional appropriation for the agency.
The funds will be used to hire and train 768 additional Transportation Security Administration agents, and pay overtime to its more than 42,000 employees. It comes amid increasing concern about long wait times at airport security checkpoints across the country.
Regional TSA officials weren't yet able to say whether Hawaii would get additional agents, but state officials have acknowledged that longer wait times at Hawaii airports are a concern.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said DOT "does not have operational control over TSA staffing, but we are concerned about extended wait times during peak hours at our airports, particularly Honolulu International Airport and Kahului Airport."
Nationally, TSA have gotten so bad that an airline trade group, Airlines for America, recently launched a new social media campaign aimed at shaming officials into taking action. The campaign urges travelers to post photos of long lines on social media using the hashtag #IHateTheWait.
Industry watchers say part of the reason for the longer wait times is that more people are flying. Lower fuel costs are translating into bargain airfares -- and record passenger counts.
The TSA also said that more travelers are using carry-on bags to avoid baggage fees. Those carry-ons can slow security checks.
Meanwhile, TSA has seen its budget shrink in recent years. And security is tighter in the wake of terroristic attacks overseas, further slowing security checks.
The TSA still recommends that travelers get to the airport at least two hours before a flight is due to depart. It might be a good idea to get to the airport even earlier if traveling during peak travel times, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Federal officials are also urging frequent fliers to enroll in TSA Pre-Check, a program that allows travelers to pass through checkpoints more quickly, without removing their shoes, laptops or travel-sized fluids.