What's new at the airport?

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - While it seems like airline flights are getting more restrictive when it comes to luggage and traveling, for those headed to Hawaii airports, you'd be surprised at some of the choices you now have waiting for you.

Dave and Debi Kendall are on their honeymoon, but they're not having drinks at an upscale Waikiki spot, instead they're waiting for their flight at an upscale airport restaurant.

"It's more relaxed out here, people watching with a bar. It passes the time better than being huddled in a corner," said Dave Kendall, from Arizona.

Dewars Clubhouse is just one of a number of new restaurants and amenities you'll find before you get on your flight. Hawaii's airports are undergoing a $2.3 billion modernization and a big part of that is providing more places for travelers during their wait.

"You end up spending more time at the airports. You gotta get there early to get through the lines and once you get thru the lines you gotta go somewhere so you might as well pick a good spot," said Kendall.

"We need to make sure the experience at the airports is pleasurable. Its the first and last experience when they come to Hawaii," said the State Department of Transportation Director, Brennon Morioka.

At the airport they are transitioning from generic restaurants to more upscale offering. Ones that also come with name recognition for travelers.

Like the seven Starbucks spread around the Honolulu airport, the Kona Brewing Company or the Gordon Biersch Restaurant Brewery. Where Freddie Pue has found a comfortable spot to wait, and wait with his family.

"We got here at 5 this morning and we are leaving at 3:50 p.m., the restaurant has kept us occupied," said the American Samoa resident.

Along with the new additions to the Honolulu International Airport, a new Sammy's Beach Bar and Grill developed by rocker Sammy Hager opened Wednesday at the Kahului Airport.

And there are new restaurants slated to open at other airport locations later this year.