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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 14, 2001

America's bloodiest day
Security tight at Hawai'i airports

 •  New airport security regulations

By Scott Ishikawa and Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writers

Commercial flights were resumed at major airports around the state yesterday, but it may take at least a week to make up two full days of canceled flights.

Hawai'i National Guard member Russell Fukeda checks the IDs of Hilo residents Anna and Andy Lay. Honolulu International Airport reopened yesterday under heavy security.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The first airplane to take off from Honolulu airport was an Aloha Airlines 7:45 a.m. flight to Kona on the Big Island. Passengers on Aloha Flight 441 from Las Vegas, the first to arrive at the airport, burst into applause as they touched down shortly before 4 p.m.

Limited overseas and interisland service continued throughout the day.

Departing passenger Dan Wagner, on the Big Island for a business trip, was pleased to be going home to Southern California. "They can strip-search me if they wish — I just want to get home," he said.

Hawaiian Airlines resumes its full flight schedule today, with approximately 170 interisland and trans-Pacific flights. But it will be a while before everything's back to normal.

Hawai'i Army National Guard soldiers with loaded M-16 rifles stood watch at the curbs of the Honolulu airport terminals and along Lagoon Drive and Elliott Street bordering the airport. Security appeared to have tripled, and signs stating "For authorized personnel only" hung everywhere.

"It's safe to say this is the future of airport security," state transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali said yesterday. "And it's for the long term."

Honolulu airport, which regularly handles about 63,000 passengers a day, operated at about 25 percent what Kali considered normal. All major island airports cleared new security requirements by midafternoon.

 •  For information on which airports are open nationwide, go to www.faa.gov

For updates on scheduled flights at Hawai'i airports, go to www.state.hi.us/dot/

By midmorning, all inter-island service had resumed except to Lihu'e Airport on Kaua'i, which didn't pass its security inspection until 2:45 p.m. Both Hawaiian and Aloha airlines brought a small number of flights to Lihu'e late in the day.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, Asia's two biggest carriers, remained on standby after the U.S. said a ban on flights by foreign carriers will be maintained. The FAA had told the Japanese government it would end a ban on flights over the Pacific today, clearing the way for flights to resume to Hawai'i.

General aviation remained grounded, although air taxis and ambulances were cleared to fly.

It will take a while to get the entire airport flight schedule in order, which includes 550 overseas and interisland daily takeoffs and landings, Kali said.

Passengers can now expect a minimal three-hour check-in before departure time because of heightened security.

Vehicles parked within 300 feet of an airport terminal will be towed. On Wednesday, the state towed cars at Kahului Airport that were within the security perimeter.

The new security policy even covers steak knives, which won't be provided anymore during in-flight meals and at airport restaurants. Those who dined at the airport restaurant in Kahului used only forks and spoons. Restaurant supervisor Dawn Otani said all of the knives, even the plastic ones, were gathered and locked away, as directed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Passengers, many of whom are tourists, wait at Honolulu Harbor to board the Molokai Princess ferry to Maui. Many vacationers were stranded on O'ahu when the terrorist attacks shut down airports nationwide.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Carol Takeda of 'Aiea said the new rules will make it harder to pick up her elderly grandmother, who flies to O'ahu often. But she understands. "It's humbug, but that's what's gotta be done."

Passengers on board Aloha Flight 441 from Las Vegas were just happy to be home.

"It's just great," said Gail Glushenko of Pearl City, one of the first passengers off the plane.

The resumption of flights also meant some mail will be delivered. But the U.S. Postal Service said Hawai'i residents should still expect delays because of a temporary federal ban on mail or cargo going out on passenger airlines.

"They are banning cargo and mail and we don't know how long that will last right now," said spokeswoman Felice Broglio.

Overnight mail service won't be restored right away and delivery will likely take at least two days.

As for service to the Mainland, FedEx express cargo flights resumed yesterday. Those cargo flights will take care of mail that had been stacking up since Tuesday, Broglio said.

The news is not as good for other Pacific destinations, Broglio said. Guam, Samoa and Saipan have no regularly scheduled cargo flights and American Samoa only has one cargo flight per week.

Even though air service resumed, people were still taking advantage of a special Honolulu-to- Maui ferry at Pier 9 yesterday.

Some were just trying to return home. Others were Mainland visitors who were days behind schedule in their vacation plans. All were more than ready to leave.

While some people who waited for the noon ferry ride were a little frustrated with being stranded, many took it in stride and kept in mind the tragedy that shut down the airports in the first place.

Georgia resident Rob Goldsmith and his wife were supposed to be on Maui Wednesday to continue their vacation, but he didn't seem to mind the wait.

"If there was a place to be stranded, this would be it," said the 30-year-old youth minister, wearing a puka-shell necklace and an aloha shirt. "I look at it this way, too: What's the inconvenience compared to the tragedy that other people in the country are suffering? So we have to go through a little bit of an inconvenience. Things could be much, much, much worse."

Maui residents Scott Ogg and his wife, Natsuko, were also relaxed about being stranded. They came to Honolulu for a conference this week and were supposed to return home Wednesday.

"Other people in the world have so many more grave problems going on that it really makes this seem just kind of inconsequential," Scott Ogg said.

Julie Pena, a 34-year-old San Antonio resident on vacation here, didn't let a little extra work bother her. She and her friends had to go to Maui to catch a flight back to the Mainland.

"We're trying to be patient," she said. "We understand the situation. Everybody needs to have that calm and that patience because we're all in the same boat. It's really nobody's fault. We'll get to where we're going eventually."

Sea Link, which normally operates ferry rides between Maui and Moloka'i, will continue service between Maui and O'ahu today. The ferry departs from Pier 9 at 7 a.m. and noon and makes stops at Moloka'i. The fare is $79.50 per person, including tax and fees. Call 808-667-2585.

Advertiser staff writers Robbie Dingeman, Lynda Arakawa, Hugh Clark, Timothy Hurley and Jan TenBruggencate contributed to this report.