Honolulu airport tricks and tips | Hawaiian Airlines | Hawaiian Airlines

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Honolulu airport tricks and tips

We’re sharing some insider’s secrets to help you better prepare for your next trip.

There’s something special about Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) the largest airport in the State of Hawaii. On any day, this international hub is abuzz with worldly travelers, Hawaiian songs permeate the gate areas and warm tropical breezes glide through the doors. For many, this inviting airport, named after the late U.S. Sen. Inouye, is like a second home.

Frequent fliers know the ins and outs of HNL — from check-in to lei stands — and you can, too. Follow along as we share our favorite (not-so-) secret tips about the one-of-a-kind Honolulu airport.

Caption: Speak with a gate agent if you have any questions about the check-in process.


Getting there: Terminal 1 welcomes Hawaiian Airlines departures on level 2, with some international flights using Terminal 2. Both have easy access to a 24-7 parking garage. It’s recommended to arrive 2.5 hours prior to departure for North American flights, 1.5 hours before Neighbor Island flights, and 3 hours before international flights.

Check-in: Gate agents are waiting to check you and your baggage in. Guests traveling to the Continental U.S. must process their checked baggage through the USDA pre-flight inspection stations, located near airline check-in counters, and leave fruit and plants behind. International travelers will need to obtain their necessary visas prior to check-in.

Security: The general TSA security lines are located on the mauka (toward the mountain) side of Terminal 1. For a speedy security experience, apply for TSA PreCheck which will have expedited lines at Honolulu’s airport and don’t require removing shoes.

Pre-flight experiences: Linger in the island air from beyond the with the Honolulu airport’s unique outdoor cultural gardens that reflect the state’s influence of Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese heritages. Alternatively, you can relax at the Premier Club near Gate A18, available to guests flying First Class to North America and Neighbor Islands, Pualani Elite members and Premier Club members. Or for an even more elevated experience, The Plumeria Lounge is located on the third floor, offering additional amenities for select Premium Cabin guests and Pualani Platinum members — day passes can also be purchased at the lounge.

Restaurants and shops: Foodies find a wide selection of tasty options in Terminal 1, from savory combo plates at Lahaina Chicken Company and frothy beers at Kona Brewing Co. to ice cream scoops at Lani Moo's Tropical Treats. Two Starbucks locations make it easy to order ahead, while Hawaii-themed shops will help you remember your last-minute gifts.

Caption: The Honolulu airport’s new Mauka Concourse extension features high ceilings, skylights and eco-friendly design elements.

Domestic arrivals

Baggage claim and customs: Before the plane lands, all guests are required to fill out the Agricultural Declaration Form, required by the Department of Agriculture. It includes basic information like length of stay and noting any agricultural materials.

Once you deplane, head to baggage claim by walking or catching the free Wiki Wiki shuttle bus. Follow the airport signs to access escalators and elevators that will take you down to ground level, where baggage claim is located. If you missed the restroom along the way, not to worry, there are more near the baggage claim carousels.

Lei greetings: You can reserve a personalized lei greeting through the Hawaiian Airlines Concierge Service, which also offers transportation services. If you don’t plan ahead, there are also lei stands across the road from Terminal 1 near the airport entry road, generally open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Transportation: If you’re looking for wheels, take advantage of Hawaiian Airlines’ exclusive car rental rates. Once you receive your bags from baggage claim, hop on the shuttles on the ground level to get your vehicle. But if public transportation is what you’re looking for, TheBus and rideshare pickups are located by the median on the second level outside Terminal 1.

International arrivals

Baggage claim and customs: All guests must follow airport signs and employee directions to customs, where you'll be directed to one of two lines: U.S. citizens and permanent residents or non-U.S. citizen lines.

Once you exit customs, you’ll be led to the ground level where baggage claim and restrooms are. When you receive your bags, proceed to the exit. Please note that you may be randomly stopped for inspection and agricultural checks to ensure that all declarations were made properly.

Transfers: If you have a transfer to another flight, first claim your bag, then follow the signs and employee directions to get through customs. Note that there are separate exits for organized groups and individual travelers. Upon exit, follow the signs to locate and check-in for your next flight. For those traveling on Hawaiian Airlines to a Neighbor Island or our domestic gateways, please make your way to Terminal 1 to check in for your next flight.

Quick tip, if you are an individual traveler, take advantage of the Transit Bag Drop amenity (outside Exit 2) during busy morning hours, where you can check your bags before entering the terminal. If this service is closed, guests will need to drop their luggage off in Lobby 2 or 3 of Terminal 1.

Currency exchange: You can exchange your currency for U.S. dollars at several locations in Terminal 2. There are also ATM bank machines throughout the airport, including a Bank of Hawaii one across from Gate A16.

Lei greetings: Reserve a personalized lei greeting through the Hawaiian Airlines Concierge Service, which also offers transportation services, or visit the lei stands across the road from Terminal 1.

Transportation: Take advantage of Hawaiian Airlines’ exclusive car rental rates and take the shuttles on the ground level to get your vehicle. TheBus public transportation and rideshare pickups are located by the median on the second level outside Terminal 1.

Caption: Sit back and enjoy your time in the State of Hawaii’s largest airport.


The Honolulu airport is the heart of our non-stop service between the Hawaiian Islands and to the Continental U.S. and international destinations. Whether you’re traveling from Asia, the South Pacific, the West Coast, the East Coast or a Neighbor Island, Hawaii just might be your favorite layover of all time.

Airport lounges: Rest easy at the Premier Club near Gate A18 or The Plumeria Lounge on the third floor. Both offer exceptional amenities like snacks and drinks, dedicated customer service agents, high-speed Wi-Fi and charging outlets. While the lounges are reserved for select guests, you can purchase day passes to The Plumeria Lounge.

Restaurants and shops: You’ll have more time to explore the airport, from the outdoor cultural gardens to duty-free DFS Galleria and other retail stores in the main part of Terminal 2 — there's even a University of Hawaii Warriors Shop for alumni and fans.

Storage lockers: Feel free to store your items at Baggage Storage™ by SmarteCarte, located at Terminal 2 across from Carousel 18 of baggage claim. Note that you’ll have to reenter security afterwards.

Transportation: If you have time to explore Oahu, be sure to give yourself extra wiggle room for travel — road traffic is common during commuter hours. Catch TheBus public transportation or a rideshare pickup by the median on the second level outside Terminal 1.