Many Canadians and their travel advisors jumped for joy 23MAY, when the federal government announced dramatic changes to airport security protocols that would ease some of the most loathed pain points of air travel.
As Open Jaw reported, a new Verified Traveller program will allow qualified pax various privileges when going through airport security, including keeping laptops, large electronics and compliant liquids and gels in their carry-on, and keeping their shoes, belt and light jacket on.
The move brings Canada in line with changes in security protocols in other airports around the world - even if it only applies for now to pax with NEXUS and Global Entry as well as members of the military and law enforcement organizations.
Beginning 21JUN, eligible pax will be able to pass through dedicated lines set up for those new protocols - and that should save them significant time getting to their gate.
Sounds like great progress from long lineups and frustrated passengers, doesn’t it?
Well, not everyone is celebrating.
At least at the moment, the new protocols and dedicated lines are only being implemented at select major international airports in Canada: YVR, YEG, YYC, YWG, YYZ, and YUL.
Officials at at least one Canadian airport feel left out.
Following the Transport Minister’s announcement earlier this week, CBC reports authorities at Ottawa’s airport are “disappointed to have been excluded from the list."
In an email to Radio-Canada, airport authorities asserted “all similar airports should offer the new service” if for no other reason than to “reduce confusion,” the report says.
"For Canada's capital airport to offer a lesser customer experience to travellers who are considered trusted NEXUS members makes no sense," YOW authorities claim.
However, the government denies snubbing YOW. On Thursday, 25MAY, Transport Canada said the six airports included in the program were chosen by volume of passenger traffic - and that it may expand the program to other airports in the future.
Meanwhile, in Tuesday’s announcement, the Transport Minister said that “several” airports - even if they do not have dedicated lines for Verified Travellers - will offer them front-of-the-line service and additional benefits at transborder checkpoints (flights to the U.S.). A ministry spokesperson clarified Thursday that Ottawa is among 14 airports where pax eligible for the Verified Traveller program will be able to skip to the front of the security line.
No Free Passes!
While some want to see the Verified Traveller program more widely available, on the flip side, other critics say the new program goes too far.
As Open Jaw reported, the new Verified Traveller program allows children who are 17 years of age and younger, and adults who are 75 years of age and older, to accompany Verified Travellers through security, provided they are on the same reservation.
One security expert is crying foul. Martin Firestone, the president of Travel Secure Inc., told Zoomer Radio that represents a security threat.
“It’s one thing with an infant when you’re not worried about, but you’re saying that nobody has looked into a background check or anything like NEXUS does with all of us, and someone is 16 or 17? Wow, that’s scary and that would be a concern the more I think about it."
He did not clarify to the station that focuses on a senior audience whether he thought pax over 75 represented an equal risk.