Flying to the United States? Better Head to the Airport Earlier

New enhanced security measures prompt Air Canada and WestJet to advise passengers flying to U.S. destinations to arrive at airport at least two hours in advance.

When flying to U.S. destinations, there are a few things you need (other than your luggage) to ensure your trip takes off without a hitch: your flight details, the address of where you’ll be staying, your passport, travel insurance, and of course, getting to the airport on time to check in. However, due to new enhanced security measures that are now in place, you’ll likely need to get to the airport earlier than you would have in the past.

Introduced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the new measures came into effect on July 19, 2017 and impact travellers flying to the U.S. from Canada. As a result, both Air Canada and WestJet are encouraging travellers to arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance of their scheduled departure time.

“The new security measures will include enhanced overall screening at departure airports, heightened inspection of personal electronic devices including tablets and laptops and increased security protocols at departure airports,” explains WestJet in their statement. “This may affect the time it takes to get through security and board your flight.”

Additional screening of personal electronic devices

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) says passengers travelling with electronic devices may be asked to turn on their device (or devices) and remove any covers or protective cases. As a result, it recommends travellers ensure that:

  • Covers and cases can be easily removed, or are removed in advance
  • Devices are charged and can be powered up if asked

CATSA warns passengers that if your tablet or laptop cannot be powered up or taken out of its case, the device will not be permitted beyond the screening checkpoint.

Departing from Toronto’s Pearson airport? You may need three hours!

Depending on where you are departing from, you may actually need more than the two hours that Air Canada and WestJet is recommending. If you’re travelling from Toronto Pearson, for example, you may need to give yourself three hours instead of two:

“Wait times are longer than usual at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canadian Air Transport Security Association (CATSA) pre-board screening for flights before 10:00 a.m. Please arrive at the airport 3 hours before your flight's scheduled departure time when departing before 10:00 a.m.”

Know before you go; check with the airport and airline before your trip to ensure you’re giving yourself enough time to make your flight.

It’s not just Canada that is affected by the new measures

The new security measures are being rolled out in about 280 airports in 105 countries, affecting about 325,000 passengers a day worldwide.

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