HONOLULU - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates a record number of people will be screened through security checkpoints at Hawaii’s airports and at airports nationwide this summer, surpassing 2019 pre-pandemic volumes. With high passenger volumes, officials with TSA are encouraging travelers to plan ahead and be prepared for the air travel experience.
TSA is committed to staffing the security checkpoints at all airports based on the number of travelers projected to depart the airports at various times during the day. The summer travel season officially kicked off on Memorial Day weekend when TSA screened 9.8 million travelers over the four-day holiday weekend at more than 430 airports nationwide. At Hawaii’s commercial airports, TSA screened more than 200,000 departing travelers during the holiday weekend at the Hawaiian airports, with the greatest number - more than 113,000 - being screened at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).
The busiest times at HNL checkpoints are generally 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The busiest days to travel locally and nationally are Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sundays and Mondays. TSA strives to get travelers through the general security screening process in less than 30 minutes and through TSA PreCheck screening in less than 10 minutes.
Nationally, TSA is anticipating a significant increase in air travel volumes this summer. Since the spring break travel period, TSA has screened a minimum 2 million travelers per day nationwide, which is 100 percent of pre-pandemic levels. We anticipate that daily passenger screening volumes will continue to increase to an average 2.5 million people per day.
“The rest of the country is finally catching up to what we have been seeing in Hawaii for some time. Air travel is back and it will continue to grow. That is why TSA began working on its summer travel staffing plan months ago to ensure that we would be prepared for high numbers of travelers - whether residents or tourists - who will come to our security checkpoints and expect high levels of security, efficient operations and a dose of Aloha,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Hawaii and the Pacific Nanea Vasta. “TSA will keep our security checkpoints staffed and utilize a variety of security assets including our explosive detection canines to ensure smooth travels for all.”
Due consistently high passenger volumes at HNL and other Hawaii airports, there will be periods during the day when the number of passengers who need to be screened by TSA may exceed the capacity of the security checkpoint. Because of these peaks, TSA is advising all travelers to plan ahead and arrive early to complete every step of the airport travel process.
Changes to TSA PreCheck screening
TSA PreCheck expedites a traveler’s airport security checkpoint screening process and allows travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their travel size liquids, gels and aerosols in a carry-on. More than 15 million people nationwide have enrolled in TSA PreCheck and regularly enjoy the expedited screening process when they travel.
Previously, children 12 and under have been permitted to use the TSA PreCheck lane when traveling with an eligible parent or guardian on the same itinerary. Effective immediately, teenagers aged 13-17 can now accompany TSA PreCheck enrolled parents or guardians through TSA PreCheck screening when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the teen’s boarding pass.
On average, 89% of TSA PreCheck-eligible travelers waited five minutes or less to be screened through the security checkpoint during the month of April. TSA PreCheck enrollment is offered at two locations in Honolulu on the Island of Oahu; in Wailuku on the Island of Maui; in Kapaa on the Island of Kauai; and in Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. Begin the pre-enrollment process online at www.tsa.gov/precheck.
Summer travel tips
Travelers have the ability to impact the efficiency of the airport travel experience. Because there is no substitute for being prepared, TSA and airport officials recommend the following:
Pack smart. Travelers should be aware of the contents of their carry-on bags prior to leaving home. Ensure that carry-ons do not contain prohibited items since they slow down the security screening process. To determine whether an item is allowed or prohibited in carry-on luggage, download the MyTSA app and use the “What Can I Bring?” feature. Another option is to snap a picture of an item and send it to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger for real-time assistance. Travelers can also send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).
Empty your pockets prior to arriving in the checkpoint. Place wallets, phones, keys, sunglasses and other loose items from your pockets inside your carry-on bag instead of placing them in a bin. This will ensure personal items are not left behind.
Listen for guidance from TSA officers. Whether you travel regularly or infrequently, it is important to listen to the direction provided in the security checkpoint. Hawaii’s airports have security screening technologies in use that may allow travelers not to present a boarding pass during the travel document checking process or leave all items in their carry-on luggage as it is screened. Listen up for directions that will make for a more streamlined, convenient and time-saving passenger experience.
Follow the rule for traveling with liquids. Sunscreen, creams, bug spray and other liquids and aerosols are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less in carry-on luggage. The general definition for this rule is that if you can spill it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then it is subject to the liquids restriction rule. If a traveler brings liquids in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces, TSA will have to conduct a bag check, which slows the screening process for that traveler and everyone in line behind them. Any liquids in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should travel in checked baggage.
Eligible for TSA PreCheck? Enter your Known Traveler Number (KTN). Be sure that your airline reservation has your correct KTN and date of birth so you can “Travel with Ease.” Those who fly with multiple airlines should ensure their KTN is updated in each of their airline profiles every time you travel. TSA offers the TSA PreCheck experience at every airport nationwide, so this is a guaranteed way to save time and have a more convenient experience.