Question: We recently took a trip on Aloha Airlines and arrived early like we had been advised to do. The agriculture inspection machine was not being manned, so my husband took our suitcase over to the Hawaiian Air area. He was told that this was only for Hawaiian Air. It's our understanding that this is run by the state and not by the airlines, so why weren't we allowed to send our suitcase through the machine? Several other Aloha passengers thought the same thing.
limited to airline areas
Answer: Passengers generally are restricted to a certain inspection station corresponding to the lobby where their airline counter is located, confirmed Hilda Montoya, port director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Protection and Quarantine Office at Honolulu Airport.
Otherwise, once a piece of luggage has been inspected in one area, someone could take it to an airline in another area after inserting an unauthorized item, she said. Having the checkpoint correspond to an airline provides more of a security control.
The exception is passengers who are escorted by a porter or an airline employee to a certain station, Montoya said.
The USDA (not the state Department of Agriculture) provides one agriculture checkpoint in every lobby and provides service to the airlines from 6 a.m. to midnight, Montoya said. Between midnight and 6 a.m., federal inspectors would be on overtime, in which case an airline would have to request the off-hour inspections and pay for the overtime, she said.
That doesn't happen often. However, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have thrown many things out of kilter, Montoya observed. For example, for its 7:50 a.m. flight, Hawaiian Air always requested inspections to begin at 6 a.m. That was enough time to handle the flow of passengers, she said.
But since Sept. 11, passengers concerned about security delays have been arriving three or four hours ahead of their departure times, arriving unnecessarily early. "So it's been a mess," Montoya said. To help handle the early arrivals, Hawaiian last week began requesting ag inspectors to be available at 5:15 a.m., she said.
The only other airline that has early-morning flights at Honolulu Airport is United, which had already been requesting the 5:15 a.m. inspections to accommodate its passengers, she said.
Q: There isn't a single street sign at any of the four corners of the intersection of North King Street and Waiakamilo Road/Houghtailing Street. Not being familiar with the area, I've twice missed my turn. Why doesn't a major intersection like this have any basic street signs?
A: Thanks to your complaint, signs should be posted by the end of the week, according to George Souza of the city Department of Customer Services.
The Department of Transportation Services was not aware of the missing signs, he said.
Next time, call the transportation sign section at 564-6119 or 564-6109.
Q: Regarding the dengue fever outbreak: I play tennis at a lot of parks around the city. I know they can't control the standing water in commodes, but often the plumbing is not working properly and there is standing water all over the floor of the restroom. That seems like a good place for mosquitos to breed. Can't the city get their people out there to clean those puddles up to prevent a mosquito problem?
A: The city Department of Parks and Recreation's comfort stations are cleaned once a day and more often in busy areas, assures Craig Mayeda, administrator of the Parks Maintenance and Recreation Services Division.
"There is not enough time for mosquitoes to lay their eggs, hatch their larvae and develop into adults within a day," he said. However, he said staff would be reminded to "squeegee out" the stations when they are through cleaning.
Mayeda also said all parks have been checked to make sure there are no mosquito breeding areas. If park-goers suspect such areas, he advised calling the appropriate district offices: East Honolulu, 973-7250; West Honolulu-Aiea, 522-7070; Leeward and Central Oahu, 671-0561; or Windward Oahu, 233-7300.
AuweI couldn't believe my eyes when I walked into Aloha Stadium Saturday night, Sept. 29. Whoever thought up those "Mickey Mouse" signs ringing the entire field? Double whammy when I watched the rerun on TV and found out it was telecast to some parts of the USA. No class! -- No Name
(The foam advertising signs were put up by the University of Hawaii as a means of advertising its sponsors, a stadium spokesman said. Stadium officials had nothing to do with it except to allow it, he said.)
AuweTo the two people sitting in Section K, Row 23 at the UH-Rice football game Sept. 29. They did not stand for all the pre-game ceremony, the pledge of allegiance or "The Star-Spangled Banner." They are a disgrace to America. I am totally ashamed of them. -- No Name
MahaloTo the man who dropped off some photos I had left in a shopping cart at the Kaneohe Safeway. I couldn't find them at Safeway, so I went back to Kinko's Kaneohe to reproduce the same photos when the clerk said, "I've got your photos." I would like to give the man who turned them in a million hugs and mahalo. Now I can send the photos off to grandparent, uncles and aunties. -- Gubby/Emilye
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