29 December 2009

Most carry-on bags banned on flights to U.S.

U.S.-bound air travellers were forced to stow all but the bare essentials in their checked luggage Monday as Transport Canada issued a new ban on almost all carryon luggage.

The prohibition is intended to get planes running on schedule after time-consuming new security measures introduced on Saturday caused lineups, delays and cancellations across North America, spokesman Patrick Charette said.
RCMP officers also were called in to help implement the new measures, which include hand-searches of all carry-on luggage and physical pat-downs before boarding.

"We are asking travellers to please limit the items you are bringing on," Charette said. "We are doing what we can to facilitate the normal flow of passengers."
The complete ban on carry-on luggage is expected to be in effect until 7 p.m. tonight. Both Air Canada and WestJet are temporarily waiving fees for extra bags.

Transport Canada issued a list of 13 items that are exempt from the new policy.
Passengers can still carry-on small purses, coats, laptops, cameras, musical instruments and baby-care supplies. Medication, crutches, canes, walkers, medical devices, special needs items and containers carrying life sustaining items are also exempt.
"Technically, if it is not on the list, it is not allowed," Charette said.
However, he said security personnel can exercise discretion at the gate.

Edmonton International Airport spokeswoman Donna Call said the new rules mean all backpacks and rolling suitcases must be checked. Books, magazines and even children's toys must also be checked, she said. Finally, even exempt items will be limited, which means that a single passenger cannot carry-on a purse, a coat, a laptop and a diaper bag. Rolling carry-ons or bags larger than small purses or laptop sleeves will not be allowed. However, small electronic devices such as iPods and portable DVD players will be allowed on board, Call said, and passengers are free to purchase books, magazines, snacks and water once they are through security.

"The incident on Dec. 25 has risen the security alert to an extreme level and that has led to this direction," she said.
Around noon on Christmas Day, 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane as it descended into Detroit Metro Airport with 278 passengers aboard.

The man was tackled by passengers, foiling what officials called an attempted terror attack.
Hours later, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority rolled out strict new security measures, including individual pat-downs before boarding.

No comments: