Traveller finds alternative to unfriendly skies

Increased security at airports and hassles at U.S. border crossings have forced one Greater Toronto Area traveller out of the air, permanently.

The recent hike in airport security at Pearson International for all flights going to the United States, including additional search checkpoints and limiting carry-on bags, has led Jeanette Toueni to come up with alternatives.

The mother of three and resident of Mississauga plans an annual family trip to South Carolina for the summer holidays. But after a recent trip to New York City during the winter holidays, Toueni says she wants to avoid the extra time wasted at the airport.

“We’re going to try driving to Myrtle Beach this summer instead of flying,” Toueni said. “It’ll be the first time driving that far, but I’m willing to do anything else to avoid the chaos at the airports.”

Mathieu Larocque, from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, supports the extra security measures. He said they are essential for protecting passengers on their flights.

“The new measures only affect U.S.-bound passengers. We are working very hard to limit their effect on passengers,” Larocque said. “We are hiring more screening officers and putting a lot of efforts into communication activities that passengers are well prepared and that they know what to expect at pre-board screening.”

Larocque said CATSA’s main goal is to inform passengers about the screening rules prior to their arrival at the airport. He added that the new body scanners will speed up the screening process.

“The new body scanners are a very efficient way of screening passengers,” he said. “If the passenger completely divests, the process will be very quick. However, if passengers leave items on their pockets, the process might take more time.”

Meanwhile, Mississauga traveller Jeanette Toueni isn’t convinced the delays and searches make the speed of flying worth the effort.

“If I’m going to spend the time and stress over planning a vacation, I definitely don’t need the added stress at the airport,” Toueni said. “If this continues our family will always have to look at other options for travel, if possible.”