Airport to open new screening lane amid growing travel lines

Travelers wait in a huge security screening line outside Kahului Airport in June. By the end of this month, airport officials plan to add another screening lane to help ease long queues and will also set up a tent to shield waiting travelers from the sun. Photos FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Officials hope a new security screening lane and a 200-foot tent will help relieve travelers in the long, winding lines of Kahului airport security checkpoints.

Throughout the summer, travelers spilled out of the terminal and into the sun waiting to be screened by the TSA, with crowds typically gathering between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

But by the end of this month, the TSA aims to open another checkpoint and airport officials plan to set up a 200-foot-long tent purchased by the airlines to shade travelers while ‘They’re waiting in lines,’ said Marvin Moniz, Maui District Airports Manager, on Thursday.

Daniel Velez, a TSA spokesperson, said the TSA is installing credential authentication technology, or CAT machines, at the airport. Wiring and electrical work is also underway to facilitate the installation of equipment, all at night when travelers are not present. The machines help filter and verify things like IDs and flight reservations, according to the TSA’s website.

In addition, four recently graduated explosive detection canine teams from the TSA Canine Training Center in San Antonio, Texas have been dispatched to Maui and are now screening passengers and providing “an additional layer of security” said Velez.

Airport officials attribute the long queues in recent months to summer travel, increased flights and larger planes, among other factors.

Moniz said the new checkpoint will join the single checkpoint located along the arrival escalators near baggage claim.

It envisions that these two checkpoints will be used to screen TSA PreCheck passengers, allowing the seven checkpoints next to the ticketing lobby to process all other passengers. Currently, a checkpoint line next to the ticketing lobby is used for TSA PreCheck.

Moniz said to have seven lanes together “should be much faster.

He added that the 200ft tent has not yet arrived but hopes it will be erected around August 29.

He hopes that the additional checkpoint and the tent will be erected in time for “The Labor Day Rush.”

But in the meantime, travelers leaving Maui between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are still advised to arrive two to two and a half hours early, Moniz said. Those with flights outside these times should arrive between one hour and one hour and 15 minutes before their flight.

Moniz said the crowds were due to a variety of reasons, such as airlines increasing their flight schedules for the summer right in that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. window, as well as airlines bringing larger jets to the ‘airport.

During peak hours, up to 4,500 travelers may pass through security, Moniz estimated.

He said that since travel is still slow to Europe and Asia, airlines are bringing their biggest jets to Hawaii, which is the next longest distance from those areas.

He also thinks the crowds have been exacerbated by summer travel.

Overall, Moniz said they were seeing some slowdown in queues as Thursday’s rush was before 1 p.m. He also attributes some of the slowdown to travelers participating in the TSA’s PreCheck, which is an expedited screening program.

The airport also has longer-term plans to add five additional screening lanes on the side of the airport closer to the entrance, near the United ticket counters.

The project is currently in design and will take approximately two years to be operational.

The TSA also offered tips to speed up the security screening process, including:

• When packing, start with an empty bag. Those who do are less likely to pass a prohibited item through a checkpoint.

• Plan your arrival time and check for peak traffic times. At the checkpoint, have a valid ID handy and follow the rule for liquids of 3.4 ounces or less, except for hand sanitizer, which has a temporary limit of 12 ounces in hand luggage.

• Secure items in your carry-on baggage, not in check-in bins. Removing items from your pockets such as phones, keys, lip balm and other items takes time and creates stress. Keeping them in hand luggage will eliminate these problems and be more hygienic.

• Sign up for TSA PreCheck at tsa.gov/precheck.

Visit tsa.gov for more information.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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