I recently took an interisland flight. At the security check, after I had sent my bag through the detector, a guard asked me if he could check my bag, and I consented. He proceeded to rub it thoroughly front and back with what appeared to be a white pad, and then put the pad into an electronic device. After it beeped, he thanked me and returned the bag. I asked what was being detected, and was told, "We have to clean bags now." What is this all about? Can I refuse to have my bag wiped down?
Airport detectors look
for traces of explosives
You had a close encounter with a "trace detector." The detectors have been in place at all security checkpoints at the Honolulu and Maui airports since May.
The first unit was installed in September 1997, said airlines security coordinator Joe Guyton.
The detectors are meant to pick up trace amounts of any material needed to make explosive devices, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration provides the detectors and dictates where they are to be set up and how they are to be used, Guyton said. The airlines assume the cost for operation and maintenance.
Asked if checks are made randomly, Guyton said the FAA periodically issues notices advising whether, during a certain period, bags should be randomly or continually checked.
"But we will always check bags that will not go through normal X-ray machines," he said.
People carrying laptop computers, for example, don't want them to go through the X-ray machines "so there's no other way to check them," he said.
But even if a bag goes through the X-ray machine, if an operator "feels uncomfortable about it or just can't make a determination, it will be pulled aside and put through the trace detector for further scrutiny, Guyton said.
You can refuse to have your bag wiped down, "but you can't go further at that point," he said.
I have a lot of small bottles of shampoo, lotion, cream rinse, combs, etc. that I've picked up from hotels while traveling. They're all unused. Is there an organization that can use it?
Probably any number of organizations helping the needy or homeless could use them, but one is the River of Life Mission, 101 N. Pauahi St., phone 524-7656.
The group, which serves the homeless, is putting together hygiene kits and could use all the items you mentioned, plus any other toiletry, including toothbrushes and razors, said Executive Director Jack Stankus.
My father is disabled and confined to a wheelchair. On a recent Sunday, returning to our parked car in Waikiki, we needed to cross the street. Unfortunately, a woman in a maroon car blocked the ramp. I asked her to please move forward, but she ignored me until I raised my voice. She then told me to cross elsewhere. She sped off when I threatened to call police. Normally, I would have just used another ramp, but I'm tired of this happening all the time. Isn't it illegal to block a sidewalk ramp? What should be done in a situation like this?
(It is against the law to obstruct "a sidewalk or portion thereof" and you could have called police at 911 to report the infraction. The alternative is to write to the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division giving the license plate number and details. Police can't cite the owner for anything, but can send a letter advising the vehicle owner of the law.)
To Wilma in Mililani Mauka for finding and returning my address book. You really made my day. God bless you! -- Sharon K.
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