Everywhere There’s Signs

For Fuck’s Sake. Kahalui Airport is a shitshow.

We got an alert the night before that traffic at the airport was really heavy and that we needed to be sure to arrive 3 hours ahead of our flight to manage security and checkin. I’m already paranoid about missing a flight – so I wanted to leave even earlier. We ended up leaving a bit early, it was a 40 minute drive from our condo to the airport, so we thought we could just get there and not rush with anything. it meant more waiting but that’s fine.

Right outside Lahaina there was a blocking collision. Our 40 minute drive turned into an hour and 15 minutes. That was shitty but just put us back onto the regular schedule. We returned the Jeep, went up from the garage and walked into the terminal. It was a circus – except the elephants smell better.

I made a beeline to the luggage checking and sent everyone else through security to the gates. we already checked in online, so the luggage was the only holdup. The line was crazy but we actually got First Class this trip – so I went to the First Class line, which only had 3 families ahead of me. The couple behind me was also stuck in the same traffic jam we were in – but they had taken an Airport Shuttle – which picked them up late. They now only had 55 minutes to check in, get through security, and make their flight.

Everyone in the line waved them through, but the woman at the desk was still working on her first customer. We hadn’t moved an inch. Eventually someone came to another desk and helped the late travelers out. They passed papers back and forth, then one of them took a bag and ran off. A bit later, he returned and they checked everything in. They ran for security as fast as they could.

Yulia texted me that she and Sasha were already at the bar by the gate. Apparently the Hawaiian Airlines Lounge here doesn’t have anything. Bu the bar was open, so that works. Petru didn’t have TSA precheck – so he was still in the security line. He couldn’t even tell where he was in line because it snaked around so far.

Just before I was called to go to the desk – the person there ran off. Apparently the luggage belt failed – and she had to run and get maintenance to look at it. The regular checkin line was moving at about the same pace as First Class – but it extended back out of the terminal building. Crazy. I finally got called up and was asked if I had done the agricultural inspection.

No, No I had not. What inspection?

Apparently there is an agricultural inspection before you can check bags in. Fuck me running. The woman said I could run and do it quick and she would hole my place at the desk. This is why people have been held up and running back and forth. about 50% of the people in line didn’t see the Ag Inspection sign. With as much banner advertising inside the airport it’s pretty easy to miss, but if so many people are getting sent back – why not call out to the line? I had plenty of time to run over and do it.

I understand that probably a lot of people were laid off from Covid and haven’t come back since tourism opened up – So I couldn’t’ get mad at anyone working – but it really tells you that there isn’t a shitload of planning happening here. The airport is busy from the load of people, but also because the process is confusing as hell. But fine. I ran over, had my bag scanned, then ran back. Yulia had texted me twice again since she thought I was lost at this point.

I ran from the desk and went over to the TSA Precheck line. This was organized, and I breezed through. I walked up the terminal, through a second Ag inspection, then finally made it to the bar. Yulia and Sasha had already gone through some drinks and Nachos, and as soon as I sat down Petru joined us after finally making it through the regular security line. At this point he was very receptive to learn about getting TSA Precheck when we got home.

It took me at least 40 minutes to check in through the First Class Line. Without TSA Precheck its the same amount of time to get through security. I don’t know how anyone was making their flights. This was crazy.

But once through security things returned to a relative normal. We had some pretty big drinks. Our plane arrived late of course, but once on board we had what was a surprisingly good meal. And more drinks of course.

This was a good vacation, but it might be a while before we return to Hawaii. The cost and crowds are crazy, and frankly the islands could do with fewer tourists until everything is back to a real normal. Restrictions are lifted at home now. Some companies still request masks and such, but it’s not like when we left. That’s a pretty big change for two weeks.

We now return to 100% mainland only sunsets – all of which have gone through Agricultural Inspection.