LA Airport Considering Mail-Back Program on Prohibited Items

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles International Airport may allow passengers to mail themselves prohibited items that they must turn over at security checkpoints.

Airport officials say they are considering a mail-back program, in part, because of a looming ban on lighters aboard commercial aircraft. They will meet this week to discuss the possibility, according to The Daily Breeze in Torrance.

Several dozen other U.S. airports already offer a mail-back service. LAX has been hesitant to start such a service because of space and security issues, but was taking a fresh look, said Paul Haney, the airport agency's deputy executive director of communications

''We're taking a fresh look at the possibility of offering this service and hope to have a near-term decision,'' he said.

LAX is a prime market for the service, said Heather Lowry, co-founder and president of CheckPoint Mailers, the country's largest airport mail-back business. Currently, most passengers relinquish prohibited items to screeners rather than leave the terminals to stash them in their cars or mail the goods themselves.

''We're doing everything we can to get into (LAX),'' said Lowry, whose Charlotte, N.C.-based company operates in 19 U.S. airports including those in San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. ''Fortunately, this (lighter ban) will serve as a catalyst to get us into airports where we don't have a presence.''

The lighter ban went into effect March 1, but the Transportation Security Administration won't begin aggressively enforcing it until April 14.

Most passengers likely won't quibble about giving up inexpensive lighters, but some brands _ such as Dunhills and Cartiers _ can cost up to a few thousand dollars and some of LAX's international airlines have expressed concerns about telling passengers they must discard them, said Frank Clark, executive director of the LAX Terminal Equity Corp., an entity that's owned by the 34 air carriers that use the Tom Bradley International Terminal.