TSA Hawaii focuses on security effectiveness while also caring for one of their own

Local Press Release
Thursday, April 27, 2023

HONOLULU – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at two of Hawaii’s airports discovered prohibited items concealed on the bodies of travelers during routine screening at the security checkpoint in the past two weeks. Their exemplary actions have also extended beyond the security checkpoint as they prioritize taking care of each other.

On Thursday, April 13, around 4:15 p.m. during routine X-ray screening, TSA officers (TSOs) at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport spotted a club-like item in the carry-on bag of a traveler ticketed for travel to Hilo International Airport on the Island of Hawaii. The TSOs conducted a bag search, which led to the discovery of a collapsible baton. The TSOs rescreened the bag and subsequently discovered a knife concealed in a comb inside the carry-on bag.

HNL Butterfly knife photo

Meanwhile, the traveler who owned the bag was screened through the body scanner, which alarmed on his lower left leg. A TSO asked the traveler if there was something on his leg and the traveler responded there was nothing on that part of his body. A targeted pat-down of that area revealed a butterfly knife was taped to his leg. The Hawaii State Sheriffs responded to the security checkpoint and cited the passenger on a state charge. All three prohibited items were abandoned to TSA.

On Tuesday, April 18 around 6:45 a.m. at Kahului International Airport on the Island of Maui, TSOs were conducting routine X-ray screening of carry-on luggage in the security checkpoint when they spotted what appeared to be a plastic or ceramic knife in a cluttered bag. A subsequent bag search resulted in the discovery of a double-edge, ceramic knife.

TSOs gave the traveler who was ticketed on a flight to San Francisco International Airport the option of checking the knife with the airline. The traveler indicated he would do so and left the checkpoint before returning a few minutes later to be rescreened for his flight.

Again the traveler triggered an alarm, this time in their waist band. A targeted pat-down of that area resulted in the discovery of the same ceramic knife.

“I am proud of the TSA officers throughout Hawaii and the Pacific who take their screening duties seriously, remain focused on their security mission and protect the traveling public every day. Let these two incidents serve as a reminder that TSA is on the lookout for prohibited items that travelers may choose to conceal,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Hawaii and the Pacific Nanea Vasta. “While I commend the actions of our TSOs, I am even more proud of how our team cares for and protects each other. I was reminded of this again this past weekend during an incident that underscored that we are more than co-workers - we are Ohana.”

OGG dagger knife photo

On Saturday, April 22, two TSOs at HNL discovered a fellow male TSO unresponsive in the employee parking lot shortly after they had completed their security screening shifts. One TSO began administering chest compressions while the other called for help. Four Hawaii State Sheriffs deputies responded, continued with CPR and utilized an automated external defibrillator (AED), which can be used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. Together, they were able to get a pulse on the TSO who had been previously unresponsive, and they prepared him for transport to the hospital. The TSO remains hospitalized and is currently receiving medical care.

“Mahalo to the employees who selflessly helped a colleague. I am grateful for our strong partnership with the Hawaii State Sheriffs whose quick actions saved the life of one of our own,” said FSD Vasta. “It is this spirit of kindness bundled with our commitment to the public that makes TSA and the HNL community a special place to work.” 

Regarding the concealed prohibited items, TSA will review the circumstances of each incident and levy civil penalties against the travelers. A full summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items is available here.

TSA reminds passengers to be aware of the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or not at all.

Travelers can use the “Can I Bring” feature on the TSA website or on the TSA mobile app, myTSA. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “@AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance daily. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).