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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Airport security rules ever-changing

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Travel Editor

The one thing that remains unchanged about airport security is change. Airports and security firms continue to refine and tweak procedures based on factors ranging from equipment availability to changes in alert status.

"It's hard to know what to expect," said Nick Alonzo, who lives on Maui and travels to the Mainland for business reasons several times a year. "They're all following the same rules about what needs to be checked, but they're all doing it in different ways." At one airport, for example, your luggage may be screened for explosive materials before check-in, with a second luggage screening after check-in. At another, screening takes place after check-in.

"The one thing I can say is that a lot of people seem to pay no attention to the guidelines even though the rules have been well-publicized," Alonzo said. "You see guys getting stopped with pocket knives and ladies wearing all this clunky jewelry that sets the alarm off and people who have to stop and unlock their luggage or get film out and you just want to say, 'What were you thinking?' "

Frequent travelers say that screening lines tend to be the largest source of delay in travel. "The thing people have to remember is that they might have to practically strip and that their bags may be pulled apart," said Alonzo. "The more layers you wear, the more you carry, the tighter you pack your stuff, the more time it will take to deconstruct and reconstruct if you have to do that."

"I've gotten so I travel in sweats and slip-on sandals with socks," said Alonzo. "If I'm going somewhere really cold, I have a very lightweight but warm jacket that's made of some high-tech fabric that I bought in a travel catalog. I may not look very business-like but I'm comfortable and there's nothing to set the alarm off."

Here are do's and don'ts:


  • Have current photo identification and itinerary and/or boarding pass available at all times; wearing them in a carrying pouch around the neck or waist is helpful. You may or may not be asked for ID at the boarding gate; keep it readily available.
  • Strip your person of metal. Place all metallic items in carry-on. Avoid clothing with rivets or metal buttons. Remove Hawaiian bracelets and other jewelry.
  • Consult the list of prohibited items at www.tsa.gov/public/display?theme=177. Don't carry these things.
  • Leave gifts unwrapped; they might be opened for inspection. Consider sending gifts ahead via mail or courier service.
  • Wear slip-on shoes or sandals. The single biggest source of delay at security lines is people getting in and out of shoes.
  • Place film in carryon luggage only; the checked baggage screening equipment can damage some undeveloped film.
  • Place ID tags in and on all luggage, including carry-ons and laptops.
  • Be aware that all laptops must be pulled out of cases and screened separately.


  • Carry too much. You are allowed one carry-on and one personal item (laptop, purse, briefcase, camera case, shopping bag).
  • Lock luggage. All luggage is subject to search at any time and screeners are authorized to break locks. Avoid transporting valuables. If you must carry jewelry and such, place it in a carry-on.
  • Stuff bags; overstuffed luggage is hard to search and harder to repack.
  • Carry flimsy sacks or bags with paper handles that can't stand up to repeated handling.