KAHULUI, Hawaii – Officials with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) jointly announced significant changes that will improve the experience of travelers departing Kahului Airport (OGG) on the island of Maui.
“Whether it is members of the local community, guests from the mainland or visitors from around the globe, it comes as no surprise that the Valley Isle of Maui continues to be a premiere destination with nearly every trip beginning or ending at OGG. With continued high demand for air travel and no signs that it is slowing anytime soon, TSA has partnered with HDOT to make improvements to our security operations,” said acting TSA Federal Security Director for Hawaii Scot Thaxton. “These changes have been made to enhance security while ensuring the best experience for travelers, the airport community and our employees.”
“We appreciate the kokua from TSA, the County of Maui and our airline partners to improve the experience for everyone coming through the second busiest airport in the State of Hawaii,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Airports Ross Higashi. “The curbside awning combined with the security enhancements will make a big difference in comfort for our travelers.”
Passenger Screening Canines
TSA has added Maui-based Passenger Screening Canine (PSC) teams at OGG. These highly-skilled dogs who are paired with TSA handlers are trained to detect explosives and explosive components. They utilize their keen sense of smell when working in and around travelers and their belongings in a busy transportation environment.
PSCs teams are most often seen at an airport working in the security checkpoint, assisting with the efficiency and effectiveness of TSA’s screening operations. They are also trained to work in other transportation environments including mass transit and maritime passenger ferry operations.
The canine teams have undergone more than 16 weeks of intensive training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. They have completed additional training at OGG to acclimate to the airport environment.
PSCs increase the efficiency of security operations because they are able to conduct a real-time threat assessment of travelers going through the security checkpoint. If a dog alerts its handler to the presence of an explosive odor, TSA follows an established procedure to resolve the alarm.
The Maui PSC teams are among more than 200 nationwide and join Honolulu-based PSC teams in Hawaii. They are working dogs and they should not be petted or fed by anyone except their handlers.
Dedicated TSA PreCheck® checkpoint
Due to increased numbers of TSA PreCheck-eligible travelers departing OGG, TSA has germodified its screening operations by opening a dedicated TSA PreCheck checkpoint at Checkpoint 2, which is located closer to the baggage claim area of the airport. Travelers eligible for TSA PreCheck should go to Checkpoint 2 to be screened. Checkpoint 1 will continue to offer general screening for travelers departing OGG.
TSA will have the flexibility to convert the type of screening offered at either checkpoint throughout the day based on the projected number of travelers and the type of screening they are eligible for. This modification to the checkpoint process will benefit all travelers and increase the efficiency of checkpoint operations.
TSA continues to invest in security technologies that improve the screening process for travelers. At OGG, TSA is using two computed tomography (CT) scanners to screen travelers’ carry-on luggage. This type of scanner provides advanced explosives detection capabilities by applying a sophisticated algorithm to generate a 3-D image of the contents of the carry-on bag. A security screening officer can manipulate the 3-D X-ray image on-screen to allow for a better view of the bag’s contents, ultimately reducing the number of bag checks that are required.
When a carry-on bag is screened through a CT scanner, travelers can leave everything in their carry-on bag, including electronics larger than a cell phone and food. Another requirement of the CT scanner system is every carry-on item must be placed in a bin for screening.
In addition to the CT scanner, TSA is using four Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units at OGG. CAT units are programmed to confirm the validity of a traveler’s photo identification and confirm flight information in real-time by matching the passenger’s biographical information from the photo ID against the Secure Flight database.
When travelers approach the travel document checking podium and CAT is in use, they will either insert their own photo ID into the CAT unit or hand over their photo ID to the security screening officer. There is no need for a boarding pass at this point since the Secure Flight database contains the names and flight details for people ticketed to travel in the next 24 hours. CAT units are also designed to identify fraudulent documents and those that have been tampered with.
Other security technologies in the checkpoint include a body scanner, also referred to as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), which screens travelers for metallic and non-metallic items concealed in layers of clothing or on the body that may pose a security threat on an aircraft.
There are also walk-through metal detectors. X-ray units to screen carry-on luggage; explosive trace detection units as well as bottle liquid scanners, which are used for screening travelers’ medically-necessary liquids in quantities larger than 100 ml.
In August, HDOT and its airline partners installed a 200-foot-long tent to provide shade and comfort for travelers fronting the security checkpoint at OGG. The 200-footlong tent is supplemented by a temporary 120-footlong rental tent provided by Maui County’s Office of the Mayor.
The HDOT tent installation included trenching to fortify the footing of the tent and ensure its ability to withstand high winds. As a long-term improvement, HDOT is in the design phase for a new security screening checkpoint at the south end of the ticket lobby. The latest on the OGG South TSA Checkpoint project can be found at https://www.hawaiiairportsmodernization.com/projects/south-tsa-checkpoint
Air travel trends and tips
Since July 1, TSA at OGG has screened slightly more travelers - about 1% - when compared to 2019. Nationally, the average stands at 89% of pre-pandemic levels for the same period.
TSA is currently screening an average of 2.23 million people per day at airports across the country. This is a 14% increase over last year’s volumes, but still down from pre-pandemic 2019 levels when TSA was screening approximately 2.49 million people nationally on average per day.
The busiest times at OGG security checkpoints are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The busiest days to travel are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Lower travel volumes are generally seen on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Due to sustained departing travel volumes at OGG, there will be periods during the day when the number of passengers who need to be screened may exceed the capacity of the checkpoint. These peaks are driven by the flight departure schedules determined by the airlines.
In addition, some airlines are flying larger aircraft on some routes out of OGG and have added new routes, increasing the number of travelers who need to be screened during peak times. This is why it is essential that travelers arrive early and prepared to allow for completion of every step of the travel process from curb to gate.
Despite the summer travel season coming to a close, airports across the country including OGG remain busy due to pent up demand for travel. Below are some helpful tips to navigate the security screening experience from any airport:
- While standing in a checkpoint line, use time wisely. Remove items from pockets such as wallets, keys, lip balm, tissues and cell phones and place them into carry-on bags instead of putting items from pockets directly into bins. It’s also the best time to have your photo ID in hand prior to walking up to the travel document checking podium.
- Enroll in TSA PreCheck. The popular expedited screening program allows travelers to leave on shoes, jackets, belts and enables them to keep their electronics and 3-1-1 bags in their carry-on bags in any screening lane at any airport. Due to these benefits, TSA PreCheck lanes move the quickest. There is an enrollment center located in Wailuku at 210 Imi Kala Street, Suite 35.
- Know before you go! Know what can and cannot go in a carry-on bag from firearms to oversize liquids. Prohibited items result in bag checks and checkpoint delays. Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask us on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.
- Get answers to traveling with medications or special circumstances answered. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to flying with any questions about screening policies, procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint as well as arrange for assistance at the checkpoint.