Airport Security Screening—The Other Side of the Story
/ Author: Brendan Kooy
/ Categories: Locals, Local 56 /
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Airport Security Screening—The Other Side of the Story

Air travel can be a trying experience, especially going through security. Here’s how to make it a better experience for everyone

By Brendan Kooy and Ben Timmermans

A recent CBC story (“Tales from the terminal: What’s driving people nuts at the Calgary airport”) presented a biased and unfair representation of CLAC Local 56 members working at Calgary International Airport (YYC) as preboard screening officers. We’d like to tell their side of the story.

Screening officers perform a vitally important job at YYC to ensure safe air travel for the 18 million people who travel through YYC every year. They are responsible for screening passengers and their bags, while providing good customer service and doing what they can to keep the security lines moving.

When hired, officers must obtain security clearance, receive initial training, and then must continue to stay up to date on policies, procedures, and training to do their jobs correctly and safely.

Screening officers deal with multiple levels of scrutiny and oversight—from their employer (Garda) but also from Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) representatives, Transport Canada representatives, and passengers themselves. Very few employees have to deal with this level of oversight in their workplaces, and as you can imagine, it can be stressful. But screening officers understand the importance of public safety and accept that oversight is part of their job.

Like the rest of us, they go to work to make a living and support themselves and their families. And like us, they also want to work in a workplace in which they are treated with dignity and respect. But sometimes officers, who can face situations that are out of their own control, are not treated very nicely while just trying to perform their jobs.

Disagreements will happen from time to time due to persistent time constraints. Everyone is on a deadline to reach their destination. But there are some things you can do to make going through airport security a better experience the next time you travel.

The best thing to do is plan ahead. To ensure you go through security smoothly, go to the CATSA website to see what you can or cannot travel with—what needs to be checked in and what you can bring as carry-on. This will help you get up to speed on the rules that screening officers are simply there to enforce.

Keep an eye on wait times to ease your apprehension. You can check wait times at different checkpoints throughout the airport.

Most of all, be patient, kind, and respectful. Remember, no one is perfect. The work screening officers do is helping to keep you and your fellow travellers safe.

Air travel can be a trying enough experience on its own. By treating each other well, we can make it so much better—for passengers and screening officers alike.

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