The scary truth about airport security

What works, what doesn’t—and why body scanners aren’t the answer

The scary truth about airport security

When it comes to combatting terrorist bombers and hijackers on airplanes, Canada has a secret weapon that is the envy of every nation: our sky marshals, a covert cadre of elite RCMP officers. Armed undercover operatives, they are rigorously trained to detect and eliminate any and every threat to passengers, flight crew and aircraft, and they must be re-certified twice a year. “What happens at 30,000 feet must end very quickly,” the officer in charge of the Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program told Maclean’s on condition of anonymity. “The only way to do that is to be very­, very good at your job.”

Canadian sky marshals are so good at their job, in fact, that they have trained Thailand’s unit, and played a major role in creating the French, Dutch, Czech, Polish and British in-flight security programs. Now even Israel, whose Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv is considered the gold standard of airport security, wants to learn from Canadian sky marshals. “Their training is first-class, next to none,” says Rafi Sela, president of AR Challenges, a security consulting agency active in Israel and North America, who has chastised other aspects of Canadian air transport security. “The air marshal program in Canada,” he told Maclean’s, “is the best in the world.”

But can the same be said about other security measures at Canadian airports? As hyper-competent as our air marshals may be, they are a last line of defence. Before a terrorist meets them, a lot of other airport security measures must fail—or be missing altogether. Ever since a Nigerian linked to al-Qaeda tried to bomb a plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, Canadian airports have come under scrutiny by esteemed aviation experts and frustrated travellers alike. They condemn the ever-expanding prohibited items list and mandatory pat-downs of people going to the United States—after Dec. 25, Toronto and other Canadian cities had the worst travel delays in the world, according to the International Air Transport Association. New security measures, such as the 44 body scanners, each worth $250,000, that will soon be delivered to major Canadian airports, are being called everything from a knee-jerk reaction by the federal government to a waste of money. If a terrorist stuffed explosives in his body cavities, this cutting-edge technology probably wouldn’t catch him, according to Mathieu Larocque of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), a division of Transport Canada in charge of pre-screening passengers and baggage.
Even though Canada wasn’t directly involved in the Christmas Day incident, what happened matters to us because so many flights that originate here head to the U.S., and the two countries share a similar approach to aviation security. Our realities are intertwined, and we are now living in a “post-Dec. 25” society, as Jim Facette, president of the Canadian Airports Council, puts it. “I don’t know if threat levels have changed, but what has changed is the airport experience.” There is a growing sense throughout the global security community that while traditional tools such as metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs are important in a “multi-layered approach” to air transport security, they aren’t the only or even the best ways of fighting terrorists.


New security models, such as what is done at Ben Gurion, are getting lots of attention. The Israeli focus is on behaviour screening, a controversial method of identifying danger by analyzing how people answer benign questions. Transport Canada is preparing to issue a $400,000 tender for a company to help develop such a program. There are also calls for Canada to move away from just “airplane security” toward access control and surveillance outside of and throughout the airport. Finally, futuristic technologies in the works, including “smart seat belts” that enable flight crew to put passengers in lockdown, and “brain fingerprinting” that senses travellers’ intentions, have ignited debates over the marginal safety benefits relative to the massive cost.

How much security is enough, and what tools work best, is almost impossible to say because “we don’t know how many attempts there have been that we’ve successfully foiled,” says Mark Salter, a security expert and political science professor at the University of Ottawa. Intelligence agents don’t exactly publicize that information. “One of the core conundrums about airport security or counter-terrorism is that we don’t know what the bottom denominator is.”

One thing is for sure: even the finest in-flight operatives don’t make up for other security measures that are ineffective in stopping radical thugs from boarding planes. So after air transport authorities have spent billions, brought in increasingly tedious and annoying rules, and made flying an infuriating hassle for the 99.99 per cent of innocent travellers, we still don’t know just how much safer we are. It’s hard to tell where the holes are until someone walks through one. But “if you have a gap in security,” says Sela, “you have no security.”

O n Dec. 27, Kim McInnes and her family were scheduled to leave Toronto for San Juan at 10:15 a.m. They arrived at Pearson International Airport a couple of hours early. Check-in took about 15 minutes, and then Kim, her husband and their two teens made their way toward customs and security. That’s when the family got their first glimpse of the madness that had beset Pearson in the aftermath of the Christmas Day bombing attempt: mobs waiting to get through. Airport personnel passed out water bottles for fear people would faint. Police arrived, in case things got unruly. “It was obvious that security was totally overwhelmed,” says McInnes. “People had no clue what was going on.”


When the family finally got to security, they were patted down, as per Transport Canada’s emergency screening directive. “Everybody took their shoes off. They ran their fingers through people’s hair. They felt your whole body,” says McInnes. “They lifted up your pant leg and felt down your sock and up your lower leg.” They swabbed people and purses for gunpowder. McInnes even heard of babies woken up for inspection. By the time the family’s plane left the tarmac, nine hours had elapsed. McInnes wasn’t pleased about the delay. “It didn’t make me feel any more secure,” she says. “But it did make me more frustrated.”

What happened at Pearson, and at airports across the continent, was born out of shock that despite layers of security put in place after 9/11, numerous red flags concerning the Christmas Day terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, went ignored: he paid in cash for his ticket, had no luggage, his father had warned American authorities of his son’s fanaticism, and other intelligence foretold of an imminent attack. In the end, Abdulmutallab was only caught because the bomb, hidden in his pants, faltered and started to burn him alive. That disaster was so narrowly avoided is outrageous, says John McKenna, president of the Air Transport Association of Canada. “Anybody who’s not drunk from Christmas Eve would have noticed something weird was going on.”

But would Canada have been able to stop him? Until now our system hasn’t been much different than in most other places, as per the security guidance set forth by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which governs practically every airport in the world. Security authorities are coy about exactly what Canada does to keep its airports safe: “It’s what you see,” says Larocque of CATSA, “And what you don’t see.”

Metal detector archways are used, but that technology is “older than most planes flying in the air,” says McKenna. Carry-on baggage is placed in a X-ray scanner, where screeners look for prohibited items—dozens of taboo goods fall into eight categories. Checked luggage goes through a labyrinth of security levels and, depending on what alarms go off, may be run through an MRI-like machine. Sela says these scanners are inefficient, though, because one in three suitcases sets off a false alarm. When something suspicious is identified, CATSA says the traveller is supposed to be called on the public announcement system to watch as the luggage is searched manually by an officer. If the person can’t be located, the inspection may proceed anyway. No checked bags are supposed to get loaded on the plane unless the passenger is on board, too. This, however, wasn’t the case of the Air India bombing in 1985, when terrorists finagled airport workers into putting bags containing explosives onto a plane that they never took. Those scanners? They weren’t working properly, and airport personnel weren’t savvy.

While security authorities won’t confirm the use of bomb-sniffing dogs, Cliff Samson, president of the Canadian Police Canine Association, says they are in place at major airports. He believes dogs are “every bit as effective” as machines at detecting explosives, and they can seek them out in a way that huge, stationary equipment can’t. Unfortunately, they can only work for short spurts, and are pricey. A dog can cost a police department $12,000, and the 16 weeks of training is run by a person making at least $60,000 a year. And the scope of what a dog can identify, including bomb-making paraphernalia or weapons, is limited. “They aren’t going to know if somebody’s got a box cutter in their pocket,” says Samson.

That’s why he supports the federal government’s move to install body scanners at airports in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Even though these machines have been painted by critics as a haphazard new measure, plans to implement body scanners have actually been in the works for more than 18 months. Transport Canada got the green light from the privacy commissioner and Health Canada, and then tested them starting in June 2008 at the airport in Kelowna, B.C. The government’s original rollout plan for the body scanners was this spring. So even if the Dec. 25 terrorist incident had never happened, Canada would still be getting the machines.

From a technological perspective, these “millimetre wave” body scanners are a dramatic step up from the equipment currently used in airport security. The scanner can pick up metal, plastic, rubber, wire, ceramic and liquids, even tucked inside pockets. Low-level radio waves pass through clothing, and a computer produces a 3-D image of the passenger. The image, essentially of a naked body (the face is blurred), is viewed by a screener in a separate room, who doesn’t know the identity of the person. It’s erased immediately after the screener issues clearance via radio to another officer standing with the traveller.

But not everybody thinks these innovative machines are worth the money. For starters, body scanners probably won’t pick up explosives concealed in body cavities or consumed, which still leaves bombers with the ability to get explosives onto the plane. What’s more, the exorbitant purchase price may get passed onto passengers, warns McKenna, in the way of air travellers’ security charges. Plus, the machines add an extra step—and more time—to the already slow process of getting through security. (CATSA says it takes about a minute for the image and clearance to happen, and the scanner will be used only as “secondary screening” for U.S.-bound flights, meaning it occurs after the usual metal detector/X-ray scanner step. Travellers under 18 skip the body scanner, and get a thorough pat-down instead. Others can choose this, too.) Some people are getting fed up: “They’re saying, I’m not going through the hassle,” continues McKenna, “I’ll make a conference call or I’ll drive.”


Maybe worst of all, critics argue that body scanners put too much focus on objects rather than people and their intentions. The use of body scanners “is, excuse my French, a heap of crap,” says Sela. He believes even the most lethal item is only truly dangerous if a person intends to use it. He once asked the heads of air transport security in Canada and the States if a loaded gun in his handbag would be considered a threat. Of course, they said. “When did I last try to hijack a plane?” Sela remembers retorting. “What’s the point of checking the bags instead of the people to whom the bags belong? If I have a loaded gun in my bag, you know I will never use it because you know me.”

That’s the whole idea behind behaviour screening, which is central to security at Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv. From the minute people get within half a kilometre of the airport, the questions and analysis start as trained officials try to detect danger in physical signs, vocal intonation and other clues. Drivers are stopped as they pull in and asked how they’re doing, where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Travellers are assessed as they enter the terminal, and then greeted by “very polite” interrogators, as Sela describes them. Suspicious responders are directed to an electronic booth in which a screen displays more queries. What is your mother’s maiden name? How many years ago did you graduate from school? The computer reads the person’s body temperature and eye movement for indicators of a malevolent motive. To get their carry-on luggage scanned, less than a hundred travellers are allowed to assemble in a series of blast-proof rooms so that, in the event of an explosion, the harm is limited to a small number of people.

Dubious bags are put inside a “bomb box” and sped away by explosives squads. People go through a metal detector, says Sela, “but we don’t care about that. We care about how you react before you get to the metal detector.”

This approach couldn’t be more at odds with Canadian airport security today, and experts such as Sela say we aren’t taking the right approach at all. Although Transport Canada says it’s looking for assistance in developing a behaviour screening program, it will be some time before this is fully implemented across the country’s airports. Even then, it will likely never match the extreme thoroughness of Ben Gurion. Still, it couldn’t happen soon enough for observers such as Robert Poole, Jr., founder and director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, a California think tank, who says, “We should focus on bad people rather than banned objects.”

But others are concerned that this method of identifying the bad guys will give way to stereotyping, as well as ethnic and racial profiling. “If you have a new Canadian or a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language well or whose sense of relating to authority or answering questions is radically different, then you may get false positives,” says Salter. “There are cultures in which looking an authority figure in the eye is incredibly rude or dangerous. If behaviour screening doesn’t take into account the many ways that different cultures interact, then you could make really bad judgments.”

That’s a chance Sela is willing to take. He believes that being suspicious of people who are, say, sweating on a cool day, is common sense. “You might be sick or be nervous about the flight, which we can determine very quickly.” He says he would rather make a mistake and then apologize to a traveller than take a chance just so no one is offended. “Security is not democratic, and it’s not politically correct. You have to do what you have to do.”

B ut what must we do, and how far should we go in the name of airport security? The search for better, high-tech, or impermeable measures is never-ending. “We’re always looking at new procedures to ensure security,” says Larocque. Last spring, the agency ran a six-week pilot test of bomb-sniffing machines at Pearson similar to the ones used in other high-profile buildings. They puff air as a person walks through the archway and then analyze the particles for explosive matter. The machines were rejected, says Larocque, because “the maintenance and reliability of the units were not good.”

There are other measures that experts point to as the future of airport security. Poole hopes to see a registered traveller program where frequent flyers get advance clearance from federal intelligence agencies and a biometric card so they can get checked in and board faster, and with less hassle. He says this would cut the traveller congestion by a third to one-half, and save airports money on staffing screeners and running machines. It could also allow security officers more time to concentrate on travellers who may need further scrutiny.

Once people are on board, some security experts say surveillance should continue. “Airline passenger management systems” are being considered in the U.K. and the States, which can monitor travellers and their movements using a computer network hard-wired to seats, says Mark Cailles of MC Associates, a security consulting and training agency in the U.K. “Smart seat belts” would allow flight crew to lock passengers into place or only let a certain number of people out of their seats at a time.


That we “throw technology” at whatever problem comes our way troubles experts such as David Gillen, professor and director of the Centre for Transportation Studies at the University of British Columbia. In the case of the Christmas Day bomber, there were warnings and Abdulmutallab was flagged as a threat, but he still got through security. Body scanners wouldn’t have changed the fact that “there was a failure of information transfer,” Gillen says. Even the best-trained screening personnel are fallible­—on a bad day, they could miss a suspicious image that shows up on the X-ray machine. They could turn their gaze just as a terrorist starts to sweat. Even the catalogue of banned items is inadequate because there are always more potential things that could be used as a weapon. “The prohibited items list,” says Salter, “always chases the last failure.”

That’s why all this security one-upmanship makes Gillen so uneasy. “The optimal level of service is not an infinite amount of security,” he says, “Otherwise we would be flying around on hospital gurneys all the time.” He and others advocate implementing measures in proportion to the actual threat level Canada faces. While Ben Gurion is indeed impenetrable—it hasn’t had an attack since 1975 (“And believe me, people have tried,” says Sela)—the political reality in Israel is much harsher than in Canada. Salter says the level of interrogation and surveillance required there would be excessive here. Observers also contend that the more screening that travellers have to go through, the more terrorists win—even if they fail to blow up anything—because we have fallen victim to fear and paranoia.

The last thing anyone wants is for another plane full of people to have a terrorist in their midst and not know until the bomb literally starts smoking. Measures such as bans and body scanners are, in the best-case scenario, an annoying waste of time and money, and in the worst case, exactly appropriate. There’s another uncomfortable, undeniable truth in this “post-Dec. 25” climate. No matter how many security measures Canada pursues, 100 per cent safety is an elusive goal. “At some point,” says McKenna of the airline association, “you have to say there’s an acceptable risk.”

Even if we make every airport a fortress, there are plenty of other public spaces that terrorists could strike. Having inviolable airports only shifts our vulnerabilities elsewhere. In some perverse way, that terrorists have so far been mostly obsessed with attacking North American aircraft has simplified the security effort; their fixation has confined the danger zone. For now.




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The scary truth about airport security

  1. This really hits the security issue on the head. Excellent journalism.

  2. Agreed. Thanks, Macleans, for this.

  3. Nice article. It's time to end the security kabuki theatre and focus on systems that work, like the Israeli example. If some people feel persecuted, too bad.

    • Right on. Canada's security personnel/government have no balls, always afraid of hurting someone's feelings. Balderdash, is security not your first priority, too bad if some nationality does not like it.

  4. This is a great eye opening article. The facts are the facts and on Christmas Day there was no equipment failure it was human faliure at the airport and human faliure in the weeks leading up to December 25,2009. In Jamaica on April 19,2009 it was not equipment faliure it was human faliure that let our plane get hijacked. No matter how good the equipment is, it will always come down to the people operation the equipment.

  5. being a frequent flyer i see the little things security doesnt do that would make an opening for someone to smuggle something on board. ie. if you dont set off the metal detector your not personally checked whatsoever. big mistake!!

  6. please cannt we stop the madness. if someone really wants to deliver distruction they will. we are allowing the terorists to win by making flying a dreaded event. Are we going to be bringing this level of security to football games fairs,malls trains etc etc..Are we prepared to raise a whole generation of suspicious minds.Do you honestly feel safer with tiny bottles of gel in the zip lock bag. Please if you are so afraid of flying stay home and let those of us prepared to fly without all the hassles get on with life. How about a new airline that ignores all this nonsense. they have my bet and my $. stop checking bags check people.

    • Hi anne, i wish it was that easy.. really i do but the problem isn't with the airline.-they have ABSOLUTELY NO SAY in airport security measures. Airlines are regulated by Transport Canada.. if the airlines says 'yes' on somethng, but TC says 'no', the final answer will always be 'no'.

    • i work for an airline (Airports agent, not flight attendant) and we have to pass the the same security measures you do. i will tell you tho, that i set off the alarms EVERY SINGLE TIME i pass those damn archways… my uniform sanctioned belt and name tag and my lanyard(which i'm not allowed to remove at any time) is full of passes and ID's always set off those damn alarms and we always get the full pat down. can you imagine how it feels to always get a full body pat down when you are supposed to be on duty while watching other passenger just breeze through? i have to walk through those damn archways 100 times in a shift and it gets really frustrating.

    • And we dont screen bags, that's security's job. We have a zillion other things that we have to do, (bc 'YOUR" flight isn't the only one we have to deal with, and "YOU" aren't the only passenger we have to deal with as most ppl seem to think. .."yeah we put u on your plane, send it off then go home… pffft" I have to show up at the airport for 4am for a 7am departure….but if you want to add that to our list of airline agent duties you can bet to watch your already expensive airfare increase tenfold , and that's JUST airfare, now add the taxes that have nothing to do with the airline (NAV canada, security tax, GST… etc) on top of that and watch the amount of the tax's exceed the cost of your airfare.

    • I honestly believe these full body scanners are a waste of money and am sad to see canada is buying into this crap. And you can bet your security tax is going to go up with it.. another $12 as my sources say, it may not seem like a lot but when you buy a Ottawa-Toronto seat sale ticket for $29, then add the tax so your final total is $107… then ppl are complaining about the cost of their airfare, ya well the airline only sees that $29 of it..

  7. It is always human problems, not technological. Incompetent workers and professionals are everywhere these days.

  8. "The Israeli focus is on behaviour screening, a controversial method of identifying danger by analyzing how people answer benign questions."

    I don't agree with this "thought police" approach at all.

    "“Smart seat belts” would allow flight crew to lock passengers into place or only let a certain number of people out of their seats at a time."

    If these are introduced, or the remote-controlled Taser bracelets that are in development, I will not be flying commercially again.

    The whole thing is overkill.

  9. I travel very often and I'm sure their are thousands also just like me. Weather it is for business or just simply for pleasure to see friends and families from other places. I think rigorous Airport Passenger screening is necessary around the world, but I tottaly opposed to full body Scanning or the full body pat downs of Passengers. It is very intrusive and quite an embarrasing experience for the mostly innocent travellers. I say bring on the Israeli way of security, and only select the ones that are the real threat to our safety. End the non sense of subjecting almost every travellers for the secondary screening. It is just common sense security, thats what we all need.

  10. I travel frequently to Europe, and sometimes to find a better fare , I would have to make a stop in a US city. Not anymore for the last few years. It is cheer madness. I will not be traveling to the U.S unless I no other choice. I prefer to pay more than to make a stop in the U.S

  11. What makes Ben Gurion more secure than Canadian airports isn't technology. It is people. The folks there are professionals, and their management is serious about security. The folks here are rent-a-cops, and their management is only worried about appearance of security.

    • If we want serious, professional security screeners, both government, passengers and airlines best be ready to pay the cost. Our "rent-a-cops" security folks are paid dismal wages, often considered to be below the poverty line especially those in large centers. I personally know a security screener and their wage tops out around $16.00/h. When they are expected to have such responsibility and consideration for passenger safety, as well as being professional, they best hire people who have taken post-secondary education in related fields, and personally speaking no post-secondary graduate will want to work or should have to work for such a dismal wage after spending tens of thousands of dollars on their post-secondary education.

  12. Once the first murder gets on a plane with his stomach and intestines packed with explosives the game will change yet again (or better yet a child, elderly or infirmed person whose insides are packed with explosives). The only way you deal with these murderers is to stop them before they get to security. That means lots of highly trained people doing their jobs outside the airports.

    Oh and I notice that your article did not talk about (1) the wide open nature of Canadian Airports on the street side of security (one or more murderers with a suitcase packed with explosives, nails and screws could kill and maim hundreds in the checkin area of a major airport) and (2) Our airports are infested with gang members and members of organized crime who work on the ramps and in the baggage areas…who watches them?

    • sometimes a worker with sticky fingers get put in there…eventually they get caught, fired and are NEVER ever able to work anywhere that requires them to have a 'Red' pass…. but guess what? the world isn't perfect. you can improve your chances of not having your bag handled by one of those petty theives by actually LOCKING IT!~ yes, you can do that! here's the deal. LOCK your damn bag. for any reason something may look suspicious and requires another look, security and a rep from that airline HAS to page you and ask you some question. If we can't locate you such as you not answering any of the pages, .. left the airport, listening to ipod.. etc.. then and only then is the security allowed to cut the lock to view such items to verify it is not a danger to the plane and the people on it.

    • infested? Really? guess who issues those lovely red passes that we all have to wear if you work in an aiport? guess who give us that clearence to be on that secure side as a worker? its not CATSA.. they will hire anyone willing to work provided they the screening.. but who does the screening?? who does the background checks? you have the RCMP to blame that one on. once the RCMP give the OK with a CLEAR background check… if you think that the baggage room is loaded with criminals…..well, apparently none of those criminals have records and have been OK'd by our very own RCMP or they wouldnt be there.

  13. Excellent article – I had no idea and it gives me confidence in air travel again.

  14. Want security. Screen Muslims, but do it like the Israelis so they don't get upset. And don't say the Israeli's don't screen Muslims. They, at least, know who is trying to kill them. We pretend it could be anybody.

    • I think that that is an immature uneducated opinion to say that the Muslim people are the only ones who commit terrorism. Don't forget about a man named Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. Have your opinions fine, but there is certainly no need to be racist. In Israel their worries are legitimate about Muslims committing acts of terror because their people have been at war with one another for generations, but to say that only Muslims commit terror is wrong

      • Have we not had enough proof that we should have racial profiling at airports. It does look like there is only one type of people that hate the west.

    • that is correct!
      Canadian authorities and politicians are scared about calling things as they are.
      Instead they have allowed many terrorists to take up citizenship, in the name of human rights.

  15. Drive. Take a train. Sail. Air travel is dead.

  16. Great points. I have been travelling to and from India fro several years to visit relatives, where like Israel, they have been under terrorist threat from not just one group, but several for years and you can't profile, because everyone looks Indian there. Simply banning liquids does nothing. Yes, when people are carrying liquids, get them to drink it, observe how they act, etc.. Everytime I fly out of Delhi, I feel safe. Unless you're a passenger, you cannot be in the terminal departures level. High level of security leading upto the terminal building itself. Even for baggage, our airports are a security joke. Anyone could take your bag from the domestic arrivals area and you would not know it, since there isn't any sort of exit check. Back to security here, adding more fees to passengers for one person is not fair either. Since this is a matter of international concern, why make someone flying from Edmonton to Calgary (1/2 hour flight) pay the same security charge as elsewhere? This whole process needs to be redesigned.

    • ha ha drink hand sanitizer how silly is that

    • security, airports (the ppl who actually own the airport facility and 'rent' its use to airlines) and airlines (all agents, ie flight attendant, airline reps who WORK in the airport, pilots) are separate entities.

      you are thinking that bc your distance is so short you should get less airport/security tax. but why? you go thru the same screening proccess, you use the same actual facilities as ppl who are flying for 5 hrs, or 10+ hours. so why should you pay less than them?. what you and the general public dont seem to understand is the difference between the actual airfare and taxes. if your distance is so short, it should be the airline you go after for the cost of such a short flight bc you are on THEIR plane for only 1/2 hr.

  17. All we have to do is turn our back on israel just as many many lefty' have done and all will be fine:

    BBC Jan. 24, 2010
    A tape said to be from Osama Bin Laden says al-Qaeda was responsible for a Christmas plot to blow up a plane.

    In the newly released audio tape aired on al-Jazeera, Bin Laden also warns the US there will be more attacks if it continues to support Israel

  18. Unfortunately, although air travel is still the safest means of getting from one place to another, they will make it so uncomfortable and inconvenient that people will choose to drive. In 2006, there were nearly 3,000 deaths on Canada's highways. With increased traffic volumes, that number will definitely increase.

    There are always unintended consequences.

  19. As a worker of a major airport in germany i thoroughly know about the hassle going through security screening every day.Sometimes even several times a day.I must admit i´m used to it and i don´t consider it as humiliating as ..let´s say…normal passengers.Especially after the security breach which happend at munich airport last week ,which was in effect just a false alarm because the tests for explosives which the security agents randomly have to run are just a drop on a hot stone and really can´t distinguish between explosives and other every day things like perfumes,detergents and so on.Because many components are alike.
    I think the best approach to a better security on airports is the one the folks on Tel-Aviv airport are following.
    Even this really can´t be done 100% especially in the age of mass-security-screenings on major airports world-wide.
    I see this every day.The long lines and the security agents who work their butts off to get everyone onto airside in time.
    There will be never a 100% safety.
    There are human mistakes and even those full-body-scanner won´t do the job.Which have a kinda funny moniker here: the naked-scanners.
    I also disagree with Linda McQuack( "nice name",lady).You can´t turn your back on someone because somebody is forcing you to do so.Or you disagree with their attitude,religion,color,race or otherwise.
    What would you think if in a week,a month or whenever someone says to turn the back on Canadians or which ever citizen of the world?
    How would you feel?

  20. I dislike the idea that we have body scanners. I mean we have a privacy act so we cannot do anything that is in the husbands name such as check his bank account unless it is joint or check his income taxes without a consent form. Yet these people at the airport can see us naked through a scanner. Shouldn't we be entitled to choose male or female to view us? Yes when you arrive at the baggage place anyone can take YOUR bag since no one is there to read the numbers or see if you have the right suitcase (bag). If they start checking body crevices or teeth molars i am not flying again. I have an answer do not let these people from such places as iraq or whatever into Canada or the United States!! again check under their turbans as well as check under my husbands baseball cap, they have long hair and can conceal a suitcase up there.

  21. I have seen secondary screening of pilots which is a complete waste of time. They have already been screened with a biometric scanner and they are flying the airplanes, HELLO!!!!!! I guess the authorities have no confidence in those scanners. I have also seen police officers walk right threw the CATSA screening posts unhindered. No scan whatsoever. If they are screening the pilots why not armed police officers.
    The measures we go threw may increase the safety level slightly but not by very much over Pre 9/11 standards.

    • Was it not a Canadian pilot who was arrested for being intoxicated as the flight he was piloting from England was about to take off? Are all pilots above being bribed to smuggle someting onboard? Are their no fundamentalist pilots? An unarmed pilot is easier to stop then an arm one>>> Are pilots above the rest of us? Get in line (at security) like the rest of us and swollow your arrogance>

  22. Sad, most especially the state of paranoia that some have developed.

  23. I am not surprised to read this, in 2006 just after the liquid bombers were caught in the UK, and the no liquid rule came into force, I was travelling via Montreal and in a store I spotted a box cutter knife with a very large blade lying around unattended. When I reported it to the security authority, they seemed unphased by it, and said it was a tool of the trade for the workers there and felt no reason to investigate this security breach. In addition they said it wasn't their responsibility and didn't show any concern in the matter. This showed me that CATSA did not care about the security.

  24. hey.
    I am Canadian (originally Arab), every time I get back to Canada
    I have to answer couple of silly and stupid questions that has nothing to
    do with security ….
    Everytime, I got my bags searched by customs, and for sure I see only
    dark skin people abused …
    In european airports, I have never been abused as in Canada and the US ….

    Despite working Hard as a doctor, I feel that I am a low ranked citizin…

  25. I not fly, but I can understand what can pass many travel . First in my opinion are every Gov must from some place in a word where terrorist are more active, investigate a passenger when buy a ticket and before get a plane.And reduce a passanger who can travel. Each Country have a right of self defense and set a own rules, but some Gov became to friend to terrorist, like Muslim. Here we Gov must have a bank computer with a name of any one who fly. Cop in a plane is not bad idea, but is not all. Anther thing are Gov must force a passenger to carry only one bag, no more, and no personal bag inside plane. Who don;t like don’r use a plane. But what surprise me in a control in a airport, but NOT in a border, illegals criminals and drug smuggler can operate well. Here in USA is real we Gov won fight a smuggler and illegals can doing with much less money spend. Over we side set a land of mines and electric fence, when get some one in a water not try to help, and in we side set a sign warming, any one try a across illegals will shoot to kill. When get a smuggler, dont’ try arrest shoot to kill direct with no warming, plus who get inside no chance, jail and deported. But is not punish enter illegals never will stop illegals.

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