What is Honolulu Airport Like? What You Need to Know

What is Honolulu Airport Like

So this will be your first time flying into Honolulu airport. For starters, congratulations on your up and coming trip to Oahu. Whether arriving for work, pleasure, or both, the island positively has everything you could ever dream of and hope for. But what about the gateway to it all? What’s it like at Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL)?

As the island’s go-to direct shuttle to and from HNL, we certainly have some valuable insight for those of you arriving and spending some time at the airport. Allow us to share.

What First Time Visitors Need to Know About Honolulu International Airport

1. The Layout

The first thing you will notice, is the open air construction, exactly as an island destination airport should be. As you leave your plane you’ll leave the gate and make your way to baggage claim where you’ll note a warm breeze cutting through the walkways, along with the wafting scent of nearby plumeria flowers.

It’s not a large airport (when compared to international airports on the mainland) so even if you take a wrong left or right turn you’ll end up at baggage claim soon enough. But please do look for the signs pointing you in the right direction, because there isn’t much in the way of onsite personnel, should you have a question. For the most part, you can follow the crowd from your plane, many of which have been here before.

Below is a Level 1 map where you will find your baggage claim (we will meet you outside of there):

What is Honolulu Airport Like

View all up to date HNL terminal maps here

2. Shopping at HNL

While we have put together a list of the best shopping destinations near HNL, some of you want to pick up a few things from the airport itself. A couple of years ago, your options were limited to typical island airport souvenir shops, lei stands, kiosks, and a duty-free, but in 2017-18 updates have been made and you now have some quality shops to browse and buy from, including (but not exclusive to) the following:

  • Burberry
  • Christmas in Paradise
  • Coach
  • DFS Galleria
  • Honolulu Cookie Company
  • Kate Spade
  • LeSportSac
  • Longchamp
  • MAC
  • Maui Divers Jewelry
  • Michael Kors
  • Pandora
  • Polo Ralph Lauren
  • Prada
  • Salvatore Ferragamo

3. Dining (and Drinking) at HNL

Nothing works up an appetite like a long flight and if airplane food didn’t cut it then you might want to grab a bite before heading for the hotel. Like with shopping, some great new dining (and drinking) additions have made their way into HNL over the recent years. These include the following:

  • Atrium Bar
  • Burger King
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Chowmein Express
  • HNL Cocktail Lounge
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Gordon Biersch
  • Island Brews & Torn Basil
  • Jose Cuervo Tequileria
  • Kona Brewing Co.
  • Lani Moo’s Tropical Treats
  • Lahaina Chicken Co.
  • Makai Plantation
  • PGA Tour Grill
  • Pinkberry
  • Quiznos
  • Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill
  • Samurai Sushi & Bento
  • Starbucks
  • Stinger Ray’s Tropical Bar & Grill
  • The Local & HNL
  • Umaizushi

As you can see, there is no shortage of great grindz (Hawaiian pidgin for good food, essentially) at HNL.

4. The Arrival Crowds

Busy time at HNL is between 9 AM and 1 PM, but even then the crowds aren’t too bad at all, at least when compared to the international airport hubs of the mainland. If you’re arriving in the evening, the scene is pretty peaceful, and you’ll have plenty of elbow room as you walk calmly from the gate to baggage claim. Once leaving baggage claim, you’ll be able to step out and find your ride out front without having to fight through masses of people attempting to do the same. And when using our direct shuttle service, we’ll get you on the phone and be able to spot you (assuming you’ve given us an accurate description) coming out of baggage claim without any issue whatsoever.

5. Overall Airport Condition

HNL is an older airport, and like any island gateway, you’ll note the humidity. When humidity rises, moisture saturates the walls, so there is room for an update to wall finishing here and there. The restrooms are clean and in working order, but they could certainly use a tune up aesthetically. It may not be the most photogenic airport in the world, but as soon as you step outside and make your way to your tropical destination, be it a bustling Waikiki or breathtaking North Shore (etc) you won’t care about Instagramming anything within Daniel K Inouye International Airport.

6. Yes, HNL Has Free WiFi (finally)

As of December 2017 (soft roll out) and 2018 (full roll out) HNL offers free WiFi. Passengers no longer need to worry if they need to tap into a wireless network to send an instant message to confirm a pickup or to update their Facebook status.

You’re all set for your Honolulu airport arrival. All that’s left, is to book your flat rate, non-stop, direct shuttle to your accommodation. Simply call us directly at 1.800.929.1219 or complete the reservation form found here.