Security agency forbids opposite-sex screening

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Air travel

Canada's air-security agency has ordered officers to stop the routine screening of travellers of the opposite sex. Instead, passengers who set off an alarm as they walk through airport metal detectors must be searched by a screening officer of the same sex.

The official policy change was quietly disseminated by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) in December to the firms it contracts to handle security at 89 airports across the country.

Ottawa -

Canada's air-security agency has ordered officers to stop the routine screening of travellers of the opposite sex. Instead, passengers who set off an alarm as they walk through airport metal detectors must be searched by a screening officer of the same sex.

The official policy change was quietly disseminated by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) in December to the firms it contracts to handle security at 89 airports across the country.

A copy of the bulletin was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Once a metal-detector alarm is triggered at a passenger checkpoint, the screening of a traveller can be invasive. A hand-held device is run along all parts of the body scanning for metal. Belts can be ordered unbuckled, shoes removed.

A spokesman for the agency said "no particular incident" triggered the new bulletin. Rather the change is "simply CATSA's desire to improve its policies and procedures," said Mathieu Larocque.

Passengers already have the right to request that any physical search prompted by an alarm be conducted out of public view. In such cases, two officers of the same sex as the person being searched must attend. One officer carries out the actual examination while the other acts as a witness to ensure no improper activity takes place.

Organizations: Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • #258962
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Once again the passenger has no say and is subject to the Draconian Edict of the day as fancied by the Security Overlords. Give the passengers a choice if you really want to be fair and impartial about the procedure. Traveling inside your own country's borders and we have to hear, 'Your papers please.'

    Tell me, why did the spokesman for the agency feel it necessary to say, 'no particular incident' triggered the new bulletin ?

  • Jennifer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    improve policies? what's your definition of sex? i don't see how this policy improves the traveling experienece of trangender people. heck what if any particular traveler feel less comfortable about this? why not just ask for their consent to be searched by the officer at the desk, and find someone of an alternate sex if that is what the traveler prefers?

  • #258962
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Once again the passenger has no say and is subject to the Draconian Edict of the day as fancied by the Security Overlords. Give the passengers a choice if you really want to be fair and impartial about the procedure. Traveling inside your own country's borders and we have to hear, 'Your papers please.'

    Tell me, why did the spokesman for the agency feel it necessary to say, 'no particular incident' triggered the new bulletin ?

  • Jennifer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    improve policies? what's your definition of sex? i don't see how this policy improves the traveling experienece of trangender people. heck what if any particular traveler feel less comfortable about this? why not just ask for their consent to be searched by the officer at the desk, and find someone of an alternate sex if that is what the traveler prefers?