Long airport security lines expected for Memorial Day weekend

Long airport security lines expected for Memorial Day weekend
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Pack your patience if you're flying away this weekend. You'll need it.

"We are expecting very, very, very long security lines for the long weekend," said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley.

When you fly out of Honolulu International Airport, the rule of thumb is to arrive two hours early for inter-island and mainland flights, and three hours early for international flights.

But you may want to tack on a little more wiggle room just in case.

At mid-morning Thursday, lines to get through TSA security checkpoints were long and slow-moving.

"There just aren't enough TSA agents, not enough checkpoints to manage the flow of customers," Dunkerley said.

Frustrated travelers plodded through the lines.

It wasn't the nightmare seen at many mainland airports, but for some passengers the wait was 45 minutes.

"Nobody knows where they're going. There's no direction. They should have someone directing us," traveler Abraham Laki said.

Jasmine Yoshino got to the airport three hours before departure for her flight to San Diego.

"We know that there is more than one line available. So we usually check, left, right, check which one is shorter," she said.

Prospects for quicker lines this summer don't look good.

Dunkerley says he understands that TSA is moving some Honolulu personnel to West Coast airports.

"Shuffling resources from one place where there aren't enough resources to another place where there aren't enough resources really doesn't solve the underlying problem. It's clearly not helpful to us here in the islands," he said.

But TSA spokesman Nico Melendez says the agency isn't reducing Honolulu staff. And TSA has also said that Honolulu could add more staff in coming months.

Meanwhile, TSA and Hawaiian also disagree on wait times for travelers.

Melendez said the longest wait time at Honolulu International last week was 20 minutes during peak hours and 10 minutes during non-peak hours. But Hawaiian Airlines estimates passengers stood in line 60 minutes over the weekend.

"This is in no way a criticism of the individual agents who work really hard and our local TSA teams who do the very best with the resources that they have," Dunkerley said.

To try to speed things up, Hawaiian Airlines volunteers and airport personnel direct traffic in the interisland terminal.

But even with that help your patience will be tested.

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