Our Shoddy, Embarrassing Airport

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - January 12, 2011
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My column about Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s New Year “resolution” prompted this e-mail from Chris Laletin of Aiea. Laletin and his wife recently returned to Hawaii from a trip to Fiji. He says they were not impressed with the state of Honolulu International Airport.

Laletin is especially discouraged, because his last trip to Fiji was two years ago and back then, he says, our airport was a mess of trash, plywood barricades and dark, empty concrete corridors. Now, two years later, he says, not much has changed. He understands improving the airport is a massive job that takes money and time. But how long?

“You never have a second chance on a first impression. Our Honolulu airport is in a sad state of disrepair and filthy. Yes, we are expecting a multimillion-dollar project improvement, but holy smokes, cleaning up the corridor you arrive through is a no-brainer.”

Their lackluster experience continued when they got into a cab for the drive home.

“Not once did I hear a Hawaiian song either in the airport or, better yet, in the taxi. I was tempted to give the driver a Hawaiian CD I had in my backpack so he could play it when on duty. And we continue to brag about our state and how special it is. Hate to say it, the first 60 minutes in Hawaii are a tremendous turnoff. No wonder our visitors are not so nice when checking in at the hotel front desks. Fortunately, so many of our residents do share our Aloha Spirit.”

Even tiny Fiji, he says, has us beat.

“Take a third-world country like Fiji and the airport is up-to-date, great lighting, nice granite floors and lots of floor to ceiling glass with musicians playing beautiful music greeting us at 5 a.m. when we came to immigration.”

So he’s got a request for Gov. Abercrombie, one that he thinks makes sense for a state that prides itself on its reputation as a tropical “paradise.”

“Neil needs to experience it for himself instead of getting whisked by his security detail from the gate to his limo.”

three star

By the time this column hits your mailbox, our house will be devoid of all traces of the holidays. I’m hoping it’ll be clean and organized, and that my mind will be the same. I need to start off the year off right, but at least one thing conspired against me. I got my first cold of the year on - yep - Jan. 1. Bleh. It made even the idea of taking down the tree and packing away the decorations a mountainous endeavor when it should have been a mole hill.

But spending time in bed wasn’t a complete waste. For the first time in ages I allowed myself to get immersed in a book. Well, three books, actually, because they made up a trilogy. Naturally I felt compelled to read them all- I just could not stop, and it felt good.

The books are The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. They are appropriate for older teens, young adults and more “mature” folks like me. I highly recommend them.

So that pesky cold did me a huge favor. It got me to shut down the computer and fall in love with books again. I do have to confess, though, that I read the books on my iPad’s Kindle app, so I am not quite going back to the old, low-tech ways. Hey, the stories are just as riveting whether on the printed page or on my device’s screen. The important thing is they were conveniently available when I really wanted and needed them. That’s a good thing.

I can’t wait to read another book. Next on my list: Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother’s Kitchen by Matt Mcallester.

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