Last Updated on January 24, 2019
In a letter to a representative of dozens of families whose children have trouble boarding airplanes, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale asserts that delays can occur for passengers who have the same name as a person on Canada’s list, or “another security-related list such as the U.S. no-fly list.”
Khadija Cajee’s six-year-old son Adam has been repeatedly delayed at the airport. Adam’s father, Sulemaan Ahmed, tweeted a photo from Toronto’s international airport that appeared to show the boy’s name with a “deemed high profile” label and instructions on how to proceed before allowing the youngster to check in. They were trying to board an Air Canada flight on Dec. 31, 2015, to Boston to see the NHL Winter Classic.
The incident highlights the complex and often hidden web of security measures intended to keep North American skies safe. Goodale said his officials had reminded airlines they don’t need to screen children against Canada’s no-fly list, officially known as the Passenger Protect Program. Goodale indicated the Passenger Protect Program would be examined during broad public consultations on Canada’s overall security framework.
After people with similar stories of airport snags began contacting Cajee, she put questions to Goodale on behalf of 21 families with Canadian-born children ranging in age from six months to 17 years. In his reply, Goodale said there are “many reasons” people might experience delays or be prohibited from boarding a flight. “Delays may occur for passengers who have the same name as a person listed under the [Passenger Protect Program], or another security-related list such as the U.S. no-fly list.”
Goodale’s department is also exploring possible changes to the Secure Air Travel Regulations that would help identify those with names similar to people on the no-fly list. Goodale suggested that these travelers might want to contact the airline’s customer service representative to explain their situation and to see what steps can be taken before arriving at the airport.
While she appreciates the minister’s response, Cajee said there should be a better Canadian recourse system. The existing one applies only to those explicitly forbidden from getting on a plane due to the Passenger Protect Program.
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