Anyone traveling from Canada to the U.S. by plane knows that at some Canadian airports passengers pre-clear U.S. Customs prior to boarding their flight. It makes things easier once you land and saves time in case you’re trying to catch a connecting flight.
As the bureaucrats see it, once through U.S. Customs in Canada, you have technically entered the U.S.
But what happens if you’ve done all of the above, got on your plane, but it never leaves the ground? Are you considered to still be in Canada or in the U.S?
That’s a question that came up last week on an Air Canada flight between Toronto’s Pearson Airport and New York’s Laguardia. The flight stayed on the tarmac for nearly an hour before being cancelled due to weather and air traffic control issues.
But the passengers weren’t immediately let off the airplane. It would be hours before they could get off. Each was then rebooked on either a later flight that evening or another flight the following morning.
But why the delay? It seems that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Candian Border Services Agency were in talks trying to decide whether the flight had actually left Canadian soil and whether the rebooked passengers had to go through pre-clearance again.
The answer, it seems, was yes to both questions.
Those who decided to fly the next day were forced to go through Canadian customs and answer questions such as “How long were you away” and “Where have you been.” Even though they never took off, they were considered to have left Canadian soil.
Those rebooked on later flights were marched through U.S. Customs pre-clearance again and asked similar questions as above.
Your tax dollars at work.
The full story can be found in the Globe and Mail.