Sunday, December 27, 2009

Air Canada Travel Advisory: Delays at Airports

An Air Canada security advisory cautions travellers to be prepared for delays:

MONTREAL December 26, 2009 -- Air Canada advises passengers travelling to the U.S. that due to enhanced government security measures air travellers should arrive early at airports to allow extra time to clear security screening. Passengers should also expect flight delays, cancellations and missed connections, and limit themselves to a single piece of carry-on baggage.

Air Canada recommends passengers travelling to the U.S. to arrive early at the airport for their flight in order to allow adequate time for additional personal searches. Under new rules enacted by Transport Canada and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, passengers and their carry-on baggage will be subject to full searches both at airport screening points and prior to boarding at the aircraft gate area.

As a result of the added security precautions, passengers should also expect delayed and cancelled flights as well as missed connections. Air Canada will endeavour to transport passengers to their destination as quickly as possible and rebook passengers who miss their connections at no charge.
While these measures directly affect only flights from Canada to the United States, domestic and international flights may also experience delays due to airport congestion and delayed aircraft. For information on a flight's status please consult
www.aircanada.com.

In addition, new rules imposed by Transport Canada will limit the amount of carry-on baggage to one item per person travelling on flights from Canada to the United States. Existing checked baggage rules remain in effect. For details on checked baggage allowances, please consult http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/airport/baggage/index.html.

...New rules imposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration also limit on-board activities by customers and crew in U.S. airspace that may adversely impact on-board service. Among other things, during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.

According to CBC, the anticipated delays have been significant:

U.S.-bound passengers at Toronto's Pearson International Airport were experiencing significant delays Sunday as a result of new security measures implemented following an attempted attack Friday on a flight into Detroit.

Sunday morning's first volley of flights to Washington, Atlanta and Houston departed nearly two hours late, on average. An early-morning flight to Chicago left four hours late, and one to New York was six hours behind. By noon, some flights originally slated to depart at 8 a.m. still hadn't taken off.

...Upward of 10 per cent of depatures had been nixed as of mid-afternoon, well above the usual rate of one to two per cent. The vast majority of the cancellations were of flights to the U.S.

Jonathan Adler at Volokh gets to the heart of the matter - Enhanced Security or Just Increased Annoyance?

Airport security is already more show than substance. It’s an exercise of political theater that is supposed to make travelers feel more secure. I am unconvinced it even does that very well anymore, and from what I’ve heard thus far, the new measures are only going to make things worse.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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