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U.S. security crackdown keeps travellers waiting

Holiday travellers are coping with another day of delays at Toronto’sPearson International Airport as security is tightened in the wake of afailed Christmas Day terrorist attack in Detroit.

Holiday travellers are coping with another day of delays at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport as security is tightened in the wake of a failed Christmas Day terrorist attack in Detroit.

While the long lineups seemed to be easing from those that snaked through the large airport over the weekend, tired and frustrated passengers were trying hard to take it all in stride.

Many praised the orderliness of Air Canada’s process of checking for American flights. But one woman said the lines are the worst she’s seen during her family’s annual Christmas trek to Canada.
“This is probably five times the lines we’ve ever experienced,” said Christin Grand, who was travelling home to Atlanta with her three children and husband.

“We’re going to be pushed through because of our three kids ... hopefully ... my infant is six months,” she said while her husband tried to calm another crying child.

“We come up every Christmas and never experienced lines like this. We usually show up an hour and fifteen minutes before our flight and we’re two plus hours before and it’s still crazy.”

Passengers are being allowed just one small carry-on bag and face body patdowns at customs.

Extra RCMP officers have been called in to help with security and customs screening.

Still, officials say things are running more smoothly as Air Canada is consolidating some flights to ease the crunch.

But don’t expect the extra security measures to be lifted soon.

Trish Krale of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority says she doesn’t expect the measures to be lifted “for at least several days.”

There have been lengthy lineups at the airport since the failed attack Friday by a suspect identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, of Nigeria.

He was charged Saturday with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight as the plane approached Detroit by igniting an explosive substance hidden in his pants. An al-Qaida group has claimed responsibility for the attempt.

The attempted terrorist attack prompted authorities to add new layers of security on top of measures adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The added security included additional searches of passengers and carry-on bags prior to boarding and restrictions to just one carry-on piece per passenger.

U.S.-bound travellers still face long lineups and some delays at Pearson’s Terminal 1 but the crunch is easing.

An Air Canada sales and service agent says the wait to check in baggage and passengers is about a half-hour.

“We are getting the people checked in on time” said Lincoln Sivasanmugam, but he could not say what was happening once travellers got inside to U.S. customs.

“We keep on moving but the hiccup is inside,” he said.

Air Canada is also being held to strict landing times by U.S. airports.

In order to meet those deadlines, flights must leave exactly on time or be cancelled.

 
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