Travellers at Canada's busiest airports could see some relief from long security lines in the coming weeks.
Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt on Tuesday announced a new initiative aimed at reducing the number of low-risk travellers in security lineups for flights to the United States.
"Trusted travellers" at the international airports in Toronto (Terminals 1 and 3), Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver will have a separate designated screening line to pass through, which should help speed the transfer of all passengers.
The program has rolled out in those four cities and was piloted for just over a year at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
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Nexus card holders already have the option to skip the conventional security line, but the government and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority have expanded the definition of trusted traveller to include not only Nexus holders but also Global Entry members, uniformed air crews and members of the Canadian and U.S. armed forces.
Trusted travellers — who go through "very diligent" background checks to ensure they are low-risk passengers — will not be required to remove clothing such as coats, hats, belts or shoes, and will be able to keep permitted liquids in carry-on luggage, said Raitt.
“If we have this alternative lane that passengers who are trusted travellers can use, all passengers will then be able move through security and to their destinations more quickly," Raitt said at a press conference at Pearson airport.
Canadian airports are experiencing about a four per cent increase in passenger volume on average each year, Raitt said, so speeding up security wait times is critical in the coming years. Raitt did not, however, specify how much time passengers who are not a part of the trusted traveller program could expect to save.
The expanded system applies only to travel to the U.S. The new steps were facilitated by the Beyond the Border Action Plan — an agreement signed between Canada and the U.S. in 2011 aimed harmonizing the benefits to Nexus card holders on both sides of the border.
In addition to designated lineups, next-generation trusted traveller kiosks will be introduced wherever Nexus kiosks are currently available, including at the international airports in:
- Toronto (Both Pearson and Billy Bishop airport).
Some of these next-generation kiosks have already been installed at some of the airports listed above.
The federal government has also introduced a new website, Canada.ca/holidaytravel, where Canadians can go to access a travel toolkit. Travellers can find information such as vaccination advice and border wait times. The website has information for all travel, international and domestic, Raitt said.