The new security scanners promised by Transport Canada appear to be up and running at Pearson International Airport.
I can't say for sure they're the new ones promised, but there was a large scanner in place at security at Pearson today that I'd never seen before.
There were a half dozen security lineups with the usual x-ray style machines, but there also was a lineup at one end of security with a large machine that folks were being told to step inside. Once inside, they were instructed to raise their hands high in the air for a couple seconds.
Nobody appeared to be raising a fuss and the lineup seemed to be moving normally.
This was my first flight to the U.S. since the Christmas Day incident over Detroit, and there was a huge security contingent at Pearson this morning, with dozens of uniformed workers and supervisors in suits managing the process. The lineup to get to U.S. customs was two or three hundred metres long, at least. Once inside, it was situation normal and people went through U.S. customs in the regular fashion. But after that, at security, they had people step on mats and follow a green sign that pointed folks to the proper security lineup.
It was the usual shoes and laptops out of your bag. But what was different than usual, or at least different from the pre-Christmas period, is the care they took going through my knapsack. They leafed through my travel magazines, checked out my laptop and unzipped all the compartments to check everything from my sunglasses case to my lip balm. They ran swabs over my laptop and over my knapsack and then put them through a machine, likely to test for explosive residue.
After checking all the bags for all passengers, most folks were being asked to stick their hands into their pants or tuck them under their belt and against their stomach and again deep into their pockets, then remove them and have their hands checked for illegal substances.
Folks were told they could bring a carry-on bag in addition to a personal item such as a purse or knapsack; a move announced earlier this week by Transport Canada.
Quite the procedure. And to think we used to read our kids a book called "Flying is Fun" whenever we were getting ready for a plane trip. Sigh.
JIM B IN THE LAND OF JIMMY B
Been a lot of cool places in the world. And spent a lot of time in Florida, what with covering the Blue Jays all those years and making it to golf tournaments for the Star and taking family trips to Orlando, Naples, Miami and Dunedin/Clearwater/St. Pete's.
But I've never been to Key West, and you can't really act as Travel Editor at Canada's largest paper and not see Key West, right? Well, you could. But I'm not.
Transport Canada and U.S. customs and Air Canada willing, I'll be in Miami around 9:30 a.m. after a 3 a.m. wakeup call, a 4 a.m. ride to the airport, a 4:30 a.m. check-in and a 6:30 a.m. flight. From there, it's over to the rental car counter and then south and further south and further south. Okay, and west, too.
Can't wait to drive over the keys. I know folks say it's dull but I can't imagine anything being all that dull if it's sunny and 22 degrees and you can see the water and roll down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair and crank up Jimmy Buffett and the Beach Boys, and if that's a cliche, well, so be it. I'll have my Hawaiian shirt on; probably the blue one with the creme-coloured hibiscus, and maybe my straw fedora-like hat but more likely a Twillingate, Newfoundland ball cap I really like. Guess I should wear some pants, too. It's Florida, but even down there they kinda like drivers to wear pants, I would think. You can probably carry a gun and drink a beer, but you best be wearing pants.
It sounds touristy as hell, but I'm gonna drink in the sunset (so to speak) at Mallory Square and wander Duval and probably taste a margarita or three. But I really want to get away from Duval and explore some funky backstreets, and just soak it all in.
So there you have it. I'll check things out and report back on Friday and again Monday of next week. I'm also heading to Palm Beach on the weekend to check out the Breakers hotel, where I was briefly a few years ago on assignment for the Star, covering Toronto Raptors' star Vince Carter's wedding (mostly from behind some bushes across the street from the church, where the media was NOT welcome). I don't know that the Star ever published a photo I took of young Vince, so here you go. I don't think he knew I was with the Star or he might have done a Hedo Turkoglu and had my photo erased from my camera.
I also plan to check out Coconut Grove in Miami. It sounds pretty touristy, as well, but it's always mentioned in the crazy Florida detective novels I enjoy so much so I'm going to see for myself.