Albertans relieved after Ottawa moves to fix no-fly list
Passengers with the same names as those deemed high-risk will no longer be subjected to additional screening
People with names that match those on Canada's no-fly list will no longer be subjected to additional screening at the airport due to a line in the recent federal budget.
The government is dedicating $81.4 million over five years to rejig screening processes for those wrongly deemed a travel risk.
That means people like Edmonton activist Bashir Mohamed won't have to endure unnecessary holdups at security anymore.
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Mohamed has the same name as someone on the so-called no-fly list, and experiences additional security checks every time he flies internationally.
While the new system will take some time to implement, he said he's relieved he won't be treated as a potential threat for much longer.
"I'm just happy that they finally fixed it," Mohamed said. "It should've been like this in the first place, but I'm glad that this government has realized that and has chosen to take action."
The $81.4 million announced in the budget Tuesday is dedicated to developing "a rigorous centralized screening model" and a redress system for innocent passengers who get caught up at security.
"It's just something that's expected for somebody with my last name in this day and age," Mohamed said.
Mohamed is part of No Fly List Kids, a group that lobbied for the change because young children were being deemed "high-profile" risks.
Members requested that additional information, such as a passenger's date of birth, be added to the no-fly list to ensure fewer people are immediately flagged as suspicious.
The families of <a href="https://twitter.com/NoFlyListKids?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NoFlyListKids</a> look forward to flying worry-free (or at least only worrying about normal things like diapers, snacks, and entertainment) in 2021. So glad we have a timeline to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/fixthis?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#fixthis</a>! <a href="https://t.co/nlzb73tvD9">https://t.co/nlzb73tvD9</a>—@NoFlyListKids
When Mohamed flies, he can't check in online or at a automated check-in machines. He said he has to talk directly with an agent, who then calls officials in Ottawa to manually clear him to board the plane.
"That's the best-case scenario," Mohamed said, highlighting how in other instances, he's delayed for hours.
"The most I've been delayed is three hours. I've also heard stories of people's passports being taken away."
But that will no longer be the case when the new screening system is implemented.
"This removes all that," Mohamed said. "It just makes me fly like anybody else."
'Life completely changed when it came to travel'
Beaumont resident Eleanor Mohammed is "thrilled and relieved" that soon she'll be able to fly like any other passenger.
The professional planner was subjected to increased screening after she got married and changed her last name from Gartland, to her husband's last name, Mohammed.
"All of a sudden, my life completely changed when it came to travel," Eleanor said.
"So that was very eye-opening in terms of the privilege that I have had in my world as a Canadian growing up, versus someone else who may have a name that could be typically Muslim or any other name associated with issues with airplane travel."
For domestic flights, Mohammed said she checks in using Aeroplan, which associates a unique identifier with her name when booking flights. She said she worries Aeroplan won't always work, and she'll be subjected to additional security checks.
At least by the time my daughters come of age, they'll be free to travel and be treated the same as other Canadians when they're travelling.- Eleanor Mohammed
She said she can handle that stress as an adult, but doesn't want her two children to grow up experiencing the same difficulties while travelling.
"At least by the time my daughters come of age, they'll be free to travel and be treated the same as other Canadians when they're travelling," she said.
She said she's relieved her family will no longer have to endure unnecessary screening, even though it will be a few years before the new system is implemented.
"We are in such a better place now than before the budget was released because at least now we know that action is going to be taken," she said. "And even if it's going to take a little bit of time, that's better than no action being taken and not knowing when change might come."
She said she'd rather the problem be resolved sooner than later. Mohamed said he agrees.
"As long as we're under the old system," he said, "I'm still going to be pretty stressed out while flying."