Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You know you're back in the US ...

... when you have to take your shoes off at security. (All that insanity about liquids and gels in quart-sized ziploc bags, unfortunately, has been exported worldwide. Australia implemented those rules last month. Progress, one could say.)

And transfering from an international to a domestic flight in Honolulu is not easy. For one, there are no signs. I had to ask a Customs official where the recheck desk was -- in a nondescript, unmarked corner. Surprisingly, it's before the very last Customs check, where they take your form from you. Then one walks out of the international arrivals hall and looks in vain for a sign for Hawaiian Airlines domestic flights. Aha! There's a sign that says "US Mainland flights" ... it points to the right. One walks past a vast gaggle of Japanese tour groups chattering away to the end of the building in the 80 degree heat only to find out this is all US flights but Hawaiian Airlines. They're in another terminal. Trudge trudge trudge. I spot one of my fellow passengers from Sydney trudging along with his check-in luggage. He didn't find the transfer desk. Finally there's the domestic check-in terminal. He has to put his check-in bag through an agricultural inspection. Since I already checked my bag, I just went through security. Then, trudge trudge trudge back to the International/Mainland terminal, 'cause that's where my flight departs from. Two gates away from where I arrived. And another agriculture inspection as well. Even though I've not really come from Hawaii. And no agents at the gate. No customer service desk this side of security, where I can see if an emergency exit seat might be available for the next leg. "It's back where you checked-in" a lady with an official looking badge said (Not a Hawaiian employee though). "Ah, so I should just trudge back to Sydney?"

Surely there is an easier way to do connections? Especially for international travelers groggy from long flights and jetlag? Every other darn airport I've been through does it much more smoothly. At least put a few darn signs up.

Hawaiian just dropped several huge notches. Now just get me to the mainland, with my luggage on the same plane, and I'll be sure to avoid you in the future.

3 comments:

MMajor Fan said...

Hi! I love your Australia pictures, they are a great pleasure to see. They are especially nice as the only time I've been there was in 1992, in what was an unhappy and agonizing trip (not the fault of the Aussies, who were great). Also, that same week I was there in Australia, Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, and I remember seeing it on telly in Sydney.

Hmm, I've not traveled by plane since 2000 so I've missed all these security changes and, um, "procedures." I've driven cross country three times and only have to worry about where to get the next petrol and friend chicken!

Thanks again for the beautiful and moving photos.

thomps said...

When I flew from the US to Milan last year and had to change planes in Milan for the trip to Rome I had to take off my shoes so they could be run through the x-ray machine. I also had trouble finding the other terminal for the Rome flight. Not well signed either. So be prepared wherever you fly to in the world for more and more intensive security searches and arrive EARLY!

Gashwin said...

Hmm interesting -- I've never had the shoe thing happen anywhere but the US. Though, I do think Honolulu airport was taking tips from the Italians when it comes to signage and so on! :)