Passengers flying to U.S. could face more questions, inspections: Transport Canada
Published Thursday, October 26, 2017 11:20AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 26, 2017 4:24PM EDT
Canadians flying to the United States could face “more detailed” inspections and questioning as new security screenings for all passengers on U.S.-bound flights begin on Thursday, Transport Canada said.
“Passengers flying to the U.S. could face more detailed inspection of their electronic devices and may be subject to security interviews by airline employees,” Transport Canada said in a statement. “Canadians travelling to the U.S. are encouraged to contact their airline for more information.”
However, a source told CTV News that the additional screening measures will be carried out by U.S. border guards at major Canadian airports that already have preclearance areas, which could reduce the potential for additional delays.
U.S. officials said the new regulations will cover all 2,100 flights from around the world entering America on any given day, and may include short interviews with passengers, heightened screening of personal electronic devices, and stricter security procedures around airport terminals.
However, it is still unclear exactly how U.S. officials will carry out and enforce the new screening rules.
At least one Canadian airline said it doesn’t expect to see an immediate impact on its customers.
In a statement to CTV News, WestJet said it’s aware of the new security regulations and continues to “work closely with the Transportation Security Administration to ensure the safety and security of our guests and crew as they travel to the U.S.
“At this time, there will be no impact to our guests travelling to the U.S,” the statement said.
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told The Canadian Press that the new measures are in effect for the airline, but he wouldn't say what they consist of because security is handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Fitzpatrick said all Air Canada flights from Canada to the U.S. have passengers go through preclearance security, so they would encounter the new measures before taking off.
Passengers on Porter Airlines flights from Toronto will have to go through the new security checks once they land in the U.S., as Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport does not offer preclearance. Porter Airlines said its passengers can expect the same check-in experience as before.
Speaking to CTV News Channel Thursday from Boston, airline safety and security expert Todd Curtis said his main concern is that certain passengers will be profiled and targeted for the extra screenings.
“Like most security procedures, there is very little transparency to the public as to what risk factors are being looked at,” Curtis said. “People who are at the front lines make a subjective decision as to who should be questioned, who should be searched.”
He said it’s inevitable that travellers of certain ethnicities or nationalities “will be unduly searched.”
In March, the U.S. introduced a laptop ban in the cabins of some airlines operating flights from the Middle East over concerns that extremists could hide bombs inside of them. The ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics before passengers boarded planes heading to the U.S.
In September, U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration announced new restrictions on travellers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. It’s the latest version of a travel ban Trump has been trying to impose since taking office, even though previous bans were challenged and blocked by U.S. courts.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press