Saturday, July 30, 2011

Traveling by air in UK and Canada

Here's a couple of articles of interest regarding international airport security:
  • The UK will be changing things up, but, while details are scarce, there is some speculation that they will adopt something more similar to the wonderful American TSA model:
Philip Hammond, the UK transport minister, is encouraging airports to rely on better screening devices rather than notionally random checks, which all too often end up with a certain percentage of passengers just being pulled aside for no specific reason.
The UK is also planning better links between airports and immigration officers of the UK Border Agency, which is aimed at reducing the bottlenecks at immigration that any regular Heathrow traveller will have experienced.
Aviation minister Theresa Villiers told the UK's Daily Telegraph: "What we are looking for is a better security outcome and we want this done in a more passenger-friendly way." 
It's clear that any changes will be underpinned by new technology -- potentially including the unpopular full-body millimetre-wave scanners currently employed at some US airports by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). 
The "passenger-friendly" suggested by Ms Villiers could involve the model suggested by airline trade body IATA at its Singapore meeting last month, which Australian Business Traveller walked through.
  • Canada is also following the TSA's lead in testing the cartoon software upgrade to their scanners. The article also gives some information about current airport systems in Canada:
[TSA-like Bureaucrat] Larocque said while in the U.S. the scanners are used as primary screening devices, the 41 located in Canadian airports are a secondary process if something is detected during the initial scan or a passenger is randomly selected. A passenger also has the choice of the scan or a physical search, Larocque added. 
Canada only uses the millimetre wave scanners.