Pubdate: Fri, 14 Dec 2001
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner


If there's a drug conviction in your past, make sure any plane you 
board does not touch down in the United States, even for an hour.

Heightened security measures at airports there are forcing all 
passengers who land on U.S. soil to clear customs and immigration.

Those found inadmissible are being turned back to Canada, regardless 
of their ultimate destination.

Jason Hammond, 29, missed his trip home to New Zealand last week 
because U.S. immigration refused him entry to a Hawaiian airport 
transit lounge for a two-hour stopover.

Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. allowed air carriers 
to stop for refuelling and crew changes without subjecting passengers 
to full immigration and customs checks said Peter Gordon, an 
assistant inspections director with the U.S. Immigration and 
Naturalization Service.

That exemption was suspended a short time after Sept.11, he said.

Hammond, who was convicted of possession of hash oil for the purpose 
of trafficking when he was 20, was sent back to Canada.

He lost his $2,100 ticket and must now pay for another trip, via a 
new route, to travel home for Christmas.

The Vancouver resident said he knew his record renders him 
inadmissible to the U.S. and has never tried to go there.  But he'd 
taken the same Air Canada flight through Hawaii many times with no 

He wasn't the only one caught in the new security sweep.  Another 
passenger on his flight with a drug record was sent back and lost his 
ticket and prepaid diving holiday.

"It cost me a lot.  But it cost him five or six times what it cost 
me," Hammond said.  He said he wished his travel agent at Flight 
Centre had notified him of the security change.

Lori Meeks, manager of Flight Centre on Pender Street, said it is the 
passenger's responsibility to do the research before booking a flight.

For security reasons, both Canada and the United Sstates have also 
stopped allowing passengers to preclear customs and immigration 
before reaching their final destinations.
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