Airport opens new screening corridor amid escalating travel lines | News, sports, jobs

Passengers wait in a huge security check 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 install a tent to shade waiting passengers from the sun. Transportation Department Pictures

Officials hope a new security check lane and 200-foot tent will help provide some relief to travelers in the long, winding security check lines at Kahului Airport.

Throughout the summer, travelers have been stepping out of the building and heading into the sun waiting to be screened by the TSA, with crowds usually 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 tent purchased by airlines to shade travelers while they wait in line, Maui-based Marvin Muniz said. Airports Director, Thursday.

TSA spokesman Daniel Velez said the TSA is in the process of installing credential authentication technology, or CAT machines, at the airport. Cables and electrical work are also done to facilitate equipment installation, all at night when travelers are not around. The machines help check and verify things like IDs and flight reservations, according to the TSA website.

Also, four teams of explosive detection dogs that recently graduated from the TSA Dog Training Center in San Antonio, Texas, have been dispatched to Maui and are now screening passengers and filing “An extra layer of security,” Veles said.

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

Muniz said the new checkpoint will join the single escalator-side checkpoint near the baggage claim area.

It is expected that these two checkpoints will be used to screen TSA PreCheck passengers, which will allow the seven checkpoints adjacent to the ticket lobby to process all other passengers. Currently, one inspection line next to the ticket lobby is used to conduct a TSA pre-screening.

Muniz said there are seven lanes together “It should be a lot faster.”

He added that the 200-foot tent had not yet arrived but he hoped it would rise around August 29.

He hopes that the additional bulkhead and tent will be ready in time Labor Day Rush.

But in the meantime, travelers traveling from Maui between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are advised to arrive two and a half hours earlier, Muniz said. Those with flights outside of those times should arrive between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes before their flight.

Moniz said the crowds are due to various reasons, such as airlines increasing their flight schedules for the summer in that window from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as airlines bringing larger planes to the airport.

Muniz estimated that during peak times, up to 4,500 passengers may be subject to security screening.

He said that because travel remains slow to Europe and Asia, airlines are moving their larger planes to Hawaii, the next longest flight compared to those regions.

The crowds are also believed to have been exacerbated by summer travel.

Overall, Moniz said they are seeing some slowdown in the lines as Thursday’s rush took place just before 1pm. He also attributes some of the slowdown to travelers participating in PreCheck TSA, a rapid screening program.

The airport also has long-term plans to add five more screening lanes on the airport side near the entrance, near the United ticket counters.

The project is currently under design and will take about two years to build and run.

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

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

• Plan your arrival time and check high traffic times. At the checkpoint, have a valid, readily available ID and follow the fluid rule of 3.4 ounces or less, except for hand sanitizer, which has a temporary limit of 12 ounces in carry-on baggage.

• Secure items in your handbag, not in sorting boxes. Removing items from your pockets like phones, keys, lip balm, and other things takes time and causes stress. Keeping them in handbags will eliminate these issues and is much healthier.

• Register for TSA PreCheck at tsa.gov/precheck.

Visit tsa.gov for more information.

* Melissa Tangi can be contacted at mtanji@mauinews.com.


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