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flightsBy Joe Brancatelli

Immediately after the “underwear bomber” struck a Northwest flight headed to Detroit on Christmas Day, the United States demanded more security checks on incoming flights from foreign destinations. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), Canada’s equivalent of the Transportation Security Administration, acted immediately. It tightened controls at its security checkpoints at Canadian airports and began hand-inspecting carry-on bags.

But that promptly overwhelmed its system for processing transborder flights; they were going out hours late or not at all. So the Canadian government decided to relieve the pressure on Air Canada, WestJet and the U.S. carriers serving Canada by instituting a draconian no-carry-on-bag rule

The rule essentially got the planes running on-time again, but was insanely burdensome on passengers. Fliers were being forced to show up three or even four hours early to navigate the new system.

With the Olympics looming in Vancouver in February, the Canadian government couldn’t keep that rule in place for long, however. So late this month, it lifted the no-carry-on-bag rule. The carry-on baggage regulations from the CATSA are still marginally more restrictive than they were, but is largely a return to what we used to call normal.

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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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