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StarBulletin.com

Double security check needed in some cases


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POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2009

Question: When we recently arrived at Honolulu Airport via Japan Airlines and went through customs and immigration, I asked if it were possible to stay in a secure area so we wouldn't have to go through security again at Hawaiian Airlines to fly back to Hilo. I was told by a customs employee that it was not possible, as the area we were in was under federal jurisdiction and TSA was not. Is this policy intentional or an oversight? It is a hassle for interisland travelers coming in from overseas. After leaving the area, we have to go outside, go up one floor, then walk to the Hawaiian Airlines counter, get our boarding pass, go through security, then go to our gate. When going to Japan, we went to Japan Airlines from Hawaiian via the concourse that joins the local airlines to the international airlines, staying in the secure area. When landing in Japan, after clearing immigration and Japanese customs, we stayed in the secure area to get to the domestic connection.

Answer: We don't know what that employee was referring to regarding federal versus Transportation Security Administration jurisdiction since TSA is part of the federal government.

But the short answer is that you were screened by TSA before you left Hawaiian Airlines to go to Japan Airlines on your way to Japan, but you weren't screened by TSA before you left Japan Airlines on your way back home.

As TSA spokesman Nico Melendez explained, when you travel out of any foreign country, you are subjected to screening procedures required by that country.

“;Those countries have their own set of protocols for security, for baggage and screening,”; he said. “;When you fly into the United States and you have a domestic connection, your bags have to be re-screened by the TSA to meet our federal requirements, and the passengers have to be screened to meet our federal requirements.”;

That had not been done yet when you went through customs and immigration, he said. So, basically, you were told to leave and re-enter the secure area so you could be screened by TSA for your flight to Hilo.

Q: I recently returned from Los Angeles, carrying a 6-volt lantern with a halogen bulb. I was stopped after the Honolulu Airport X-ray security check and asked to open the new, unopened lantern box. I was told that the lantern was prohibited, especially since the box was labeled as “;1,000,000 power halogen lamp”; and may be too powerful under the rules to be hand-carried. The TSA person was polite, but seemed unsure and called his supervisor over. I politely told them that I was not aware of any prohibition of flashlights, battery-operated lanterns or halogen light bulbs for flashlights. The supervisor checked the computer and after about 15-20 minutes, I was told that the lantern was OK to carry on the plane. One friend later told me he also was stopped for having too many AA-size batteries in his carry-on and told that there is a limit. I checked the official TSA Web site and could not find any prohibition of any size or type of flashlights or lanterns nor of any problems with halogen flashlight bulbs. Could you please clear up what is or is not prohibited regarding flashlights, flashlight batteries and lanterns?

A: Here's the succinct answer from TSA spokesman Nico Melendez: “;There is no prohibition against halogen lights and no problems with batteries, either.”;