UPDATE 3/30/17: The state Department of Transportation has specified its stance on the matter. View the update here.
Will picking up a co-worker or a client from the airport get you a ticket?
It’s already happened at Honolulu International Airport, and it’s still not clear if the state plans to keep enforcing it.
Business owner Randy Vasconcellos recorded the incident with his phone while he was waiting to pick up a client by the commuter terminal.
He says the first thing he asked security and airport police when they approached was if they wanted him to move his car, because he was in a loading zone.
Instead, they asked him what he was doing. He told them he was waiting to pick up a client.
“(The officer) goes, ‘You know you’re in violation of the commercial service law,'” Vasconcellos told KHON2. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He says, ‘You’re supposed to have permission from the airport manager to pick up your client.’ I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding.”
Vasconcellos says he wasn’t charging the client for the ride and made it clear he was not working for a ride-sharing service.
Still, he got a ticket for providing commercial services without a permit.
“They’re saying if you provide a service, you’re in violation. That’s what they’re saying, so if you provide a service in picking them up, whether you’re getting paid or not, because I brought that up to them, whether you’re getting paid or not, you’re in violation, which makes no sense to me,” Vasconcellos said.
We wanted to know, is it illegal to pick up anyone at the airport if they’re here to do business with you?
The law states that anyone providing commercial services at the airport needs a permit. Those services include prearranged ground transportation.
But when we brought this up with a Hawaii lawmaker, we were told that picking up a client is not considered doing business.
Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chair of the Transportation committee, says security made a mistake and should be educated. She says they should be told that picking up clients is not doing business and should be allowed.
“I think they kind of overextended the oversight of parking violations,” Inouye told KHON2. “Airport management needs to… brief the security, Securitas as well, with regards to how they proceed.”
We asked the Hawaii Department of Transportation for an on-camera interview to clarify the intent of the law. A spokesman says DOT officials will be meeting with Vasconcellos Wednesday, and would not comment until that happens.
However, he noted that airport security was following the letter of the law.
According to Hawaii Administrative Rules addressing commercial services at public airports:
“Prearranged ground transportation services” includes the providing for hire of a motor vehicle, including off-airport rent-a-car vehicles, at any public airport for the purpose of transporting the hirer of, or passenger in, such motor vehicle and personal property where such hire or transportation was contracted or arranged for by the hirer, passenger, or another on behalf of the hirer or passenger, in advance of the hirer or passenger’s arrival at the public airport or, upon or after his arrival at the public airport, by communicating with an operator whose place of business is situated outside the public airport, for ground transportation services to be performed, at least in part, at the public airport.
“Prearranged ground transportation services also include passenger transportation services, tours, and courtesy car services for customers and guests upon vehicles owned or leased by the operators even if the services are provided gratuitously or may be an incidental part of another service.”