Air Canada employees told to seek extra ID from kids even after feds' directive

Air Canada employees were instructed to obtain ID from children even as the federal public safety minister said additional security screening was not required for people under 18, according to screenshots of documents taken by an Air Canada employee, obtained by CBC News.

'I can log on as Bugs Bunny and get an Aeroplan number. It's not a foolproof government identification'

Air Canada employees were instructed to obtain ID from children even as the federal public safety minister said additional security screening was not required for people under 18, according to screenshots of documents taken by an Air Canada employee, obtained by CBC News. (Canadian Press)

A passport, a school ID card or even an Aeroplan number are among the pieces of identification Air Canada employees were instructed to obtain from children, even as the federal public safety minister said additional security screening was not required for people under 18.

Screenshots of documents taken by an Air Canada employee in January and sent to CBC News show the airline carrier issued a directive to employees stating children are not subject to extra screening measures. But the document goes on to list numerous such steps to clear what is known as the "deemed high profile" or DHP list.

"Children are not subject to extra screening under the Transport Canada Secure Air Travel Act (SATA) and Passenger Protect Program; however, until a passenger has been seen by an Airport agent, we cannot confirm their identity and date of birth," the screenshot says.

CBC News agreed to protect the employee's identity because of concerns of job termination.

The revelations come just after the Minister Goodale announced that Canada and the U.S. set up a working group to help prevent false-positives for children matching names on no-fly lists.

Screenshots sent to CBC confidence by Air Canada employees who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. (CBC News)

'You've got to change the entire computer system'

The no-fly list is generated by the government, but "piggybacked onto the computer systems of the airlines. It's not an interactive system," he said Tuesday, admitting changes to the problem of false security-list matches won't be quick or easy.

By contrast, the American system is entirely government run and is interactive, Goodale said.

"You've got to change the entire computer system on the Canadian side," he said.

In a statement, Air Canada representative Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News it is a legal requirement that all passengers be vetted against watch lists, adding that children whose names are similar to a flagged name are "uniquely identified and cleared."

Employees are "instructed to use an Aeroplan number because it is a unique identifier [unlike a birthday because people share birth dates and the information can sometimes be entered incorrectly]" Fitzpatrick said.

But to Toronto-area Khadija Cajee, whose six-year-old son, Adam Ahmed, nearly missed an Air Canada flight to Boston last year because his name showed up on the DHP list, an Aeroplan number makes little sense.

Syed Adam Ahmed has trouble travelling because his name happens to appear on the Deemed High Profile list, his parents say 2:08

No way to tell if name will be flagged

"I can log on as Bugs Bunny and get an Aeroplan number. It's not a foolproof government identification. It's a loyalty program," Cajee said.

Since Ahmed's case made headlines, more than 40 other parents have come forward through social media and other means, with the same complaint.

Cajee, meanwhile, has found herself the unwitting liaison for the group #NoFlyListKids and the government.

One of those mothers, based in Kamloops, said on Tuesday that Air Canada employees have recommended she change her baby's name to bypass the delays.

"I wasn't happy with that," Faaria Siddiqui told CBC News. "How do we know if we change his name it won't be on the list or the name we choose won't be on list?"

With files from Shannon Martin, Maryse Zeidler, Megan Batchelor, The Canadian Press

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