‘Flight of the Second Carry On’

Posted by Guest Blogger Alison

Happy Holidays everyone!  Hopefully you aren’t reading this while stuck in an airport somewhere although if you live in Canada or the U.S. chances are good that this is the case.  After last week’s in-flight bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit, North American airports have been crippled with increased security during an extremely busy time of year.

Travelers bound for the U.S. are experiencing the extra fun that beefed-up security measures can bring, including delays and lineups that stretch down long corridors as passengers struggle to repack their luggage.  And Transport Canada warned that passengers should continue to expect delays and to arrive three hours in advance of their scheduled flights.

So what does that mean for our rights as travelers?  What balance can we expect that Canadian authorities will strike between our ability to travel and our security needs?  And are there additional security needs now that this attempted bombing has come to pass?

Transport Canada has said it authorized the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to use RCMP and local police officers to assist with some procedures specific to the screening process "to alleviate the immediate pressures at the security checkpoint." 

Travelers face pat-down screenings at security checks that can take up to five minutes a person and passengers are now barred from bringing any carry-on luggage aboard U.S.-bound flights, with some exceptions.  

The federal department said the new security measures are temporary but will last at least "several days."

Do you think that the increased security measures will only be temporary?  And what about accusations that racial profiling at security gates will increase?  The attempted bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was from Nigeria and an al-Qaeda group claimed responsibility for the attempt on Monday.  Do you think this will increase the difficulties faced by people of colour, especially Muslims and those of African decent, when boarding flights in the U.S. and Canada? 

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