Papaya errand prompts airport evac

A Delta Airlines flight is delayed as
a result of a security breach
in the main terminal

By Nelson Daranciang

An airline employee delivering papayas to a passenger caused a security breach at Honolulu Airport yesterday, forcing the evacuation of all terminals, according to a federal official.

A United Airlines flight attendant went through a security checkpoint with the papayas, and before Transportation Security Administration officials had the opportunity to screen her, she had already left the checkpoint.

"We needed to screen her," said airport Federal Security Director Sidney Hayakawa.

The evacuation started at 12:15 p.m. The interisland terminal reopened quickly, said state Transportation Director Rodney Haraga. Two of the security checkpoints in the main terminal reopened by 12:30 p.m., Haraga said.

TSA officials isolated the United Airlines terminal to track down the airline employee.

The security checkpoint closest to the United Airlines check-in counter opened about 12:50 p.m., Haraga said.

When travelers buy pineapples or papayas from vendors in the terminal, they either check the produce in with their baggage or take it with them as carry-on luggage.

Hayakawa is not sure why the airline employee was delivering the papayas to the passenger.

United Airlines reported both of its afternoon flights headed for the West Coast departed on time. However, Delta Airlines reported that its flight to Los Angeles departed at 2:57 p.m. It was scheduled to leave Honolulu at 1:45 p.m.

Neither of Hawaii's interisland carriers reported any flight delays.

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