Travel Tips

Blame Canada: The Travel Detective on New Security Rules

Locations in this article:  Columbia, SC Detroit, MI

Canada flag buttonLet me now present my most recent award for stupidity in action. Earlier last week I spoke about the new security rules put into effect after the December 25 incident in Detroit.

And one of them—initiated by both the Canadian and UK governments—is to limit carry on bags to one small bag.

Can someone please tell me what this will accomplish?

This is just the latest example of what governments do when they don’t know what to do after a security breach: punish millions of passengers for the actions of one stupid would-be terrorist—rules that neither provide security or safety—and call into question whether there is any common sense left to airline/airport security.

Lost luggageThe one carry-on bag rule has been tried before, by the UK airports following the liquids ban in 2006.

What did it accomplish … thousands of misdirected checked bags that would otherwise have been carry-ons. Huge delays, and increased costs.

It also accomplished something else: thousands of business travelers, myself included, who consciously decided to boycott all British airports until the one carry-on bag rule was rescinded.

It was, to say the least, a huge mess. Passengers flying from the U.S. with two carry-on bags and then connecting through a British airport to their final destination were denied boarding in England because they had exceeded the one-bag rule. It was absurd, insulting, wasteful, and anger-inducing.

On more than one occasion, I saw disgruntled business travelers refuse (and rightly so) to check in their laptops and return home, canceling their onward flights and business meetings.

Frequent fliers shouldn’t miss our Business Travel section. And for packing tips, don’t miss our Luggage & Packing Tips section.

Now, enter Canada. The Canadian authorities have now enacted a similar one-bag rule, just in time for the winter Olympics. Once again, not a single security authority has been able to logically explain this new rule to me (because they CAN’T). But they’re out there, earnestly enforcing it.

SuitcasesAnd I was a victim of it this week, flying back from Vancouver. I was denied boarding (with hundreds of other passengers) even though I had only one carry-on bag, because they said my briefcase was too big. This is the same briefcase that has logged over 1.5 million air miles carrying my laptop, wallet, airline tickets and notebook. But not acceptable in Vancouver because of heightened security. WHAT heightened security? It’s heightened hysteria!

And so I watched people—some of them crying—being forced to check laptops (now that’s suicidal), and then waiting nearly two hours to get through security lines. In my case, I removed everything I possibly could—other than my laptop  and wallet—from my briefcase and jammed it into a bag I normally would NEVER check. So let’s add it up: two hours to get through security; forced to check bags; and, assuming my bag was actually on the same flight I was, another hour to wait to get it at my final destination. And I was denied the opportunity to work/read/write during the flight because all my important papers had to be checked.

Note to Canada: In less than 33 days the winter Olympics begins.

Click here to get a complete guide to Olympics Travel.

If you want me to come, please eliminate at least one form of high hurdles from your airports, for which there will NEVER be medals—the ridiculous one carry on bag rule. Can you imagine what will happen when Olympics fans, loaded with souvenirs, try to leave after the Games only to be told only one small carry-on bag?

I for one am boycotting all travel to Canada until common sense prevails. I’ve always believed that if you make a rule you need to explain and at least justify it.

No security official anywhere has explained or justified the one bag rule. Because they can’t. I love Canada. But security without common sense is stupidity, and right now there’s a lot of stupidity north of the border, eh?

By Peter Greenberg for

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