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(Larry MacDougal)
(Larry MacDougal)

Strict new rules in place for U.S.-bound air travellers Add to ...

The federal government has ordered Transport Canada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to assume a heightened state of vigilance.

The move came Saturday, a day after passengers foiled an attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight, carrying 278 passengers and 11 crew members from Amsterdam.

Under new rules, passengers on U.S.-bound flights will be limited to one piece of carry-on luggage and must remain seated during the final hour of the flight.

According to a statement on Air Canada's website, the limits on passenger movement stem from regulations imposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Air Canada warns that the restrictions "may adversely impact on-board service. Among other things, during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps."

So far, the new rules do not extend to passengers on domestic flights or those travelling to destinations other than the U.S.

Air Canada also warns that passengers and their carry-on baggage will be subject to two full searches before they're allowed to board a U.S.-bound plane. Once at airport screening points and again at the departure gate.

WestJet also warned travellers that each passenger on its flights to the U.S. will be subject to a physical pat-down search just prior to boarding. The airline said carry-on luggage will also be searched by hand

People travelling to the U.S. have been told to arrive extra early at the airport to allow enough time for the additional searches. Air Canada also cautions that passengers should expect delayed and cancelled flights as well as missed connections due to the tough new security measures.

Some passengers travelling from Canada to the U.S. today also reported via Twitter that they were not allowed to use any electronic devices while on board the plane.

The tough new measures are are expected to be in place at least for several days, Transport Canada said in a statement posted to its website.

In a joint statement, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and Transport Minister John Baird said the federal government is working with Washington to implement the security measures in the wake of the attempted bombing.

Mr. Van Loan said he has spoken with U.S. Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Lute regarding the incident.

"Security threats to the United States are security threats to Canada. The Canadian government remains fully engaged with the Obama administration on efforts to combat terrorist threats."

Transport Canada said the new measures are expected to be in place at least for several days. It also urged travellers to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behaviour to authorities.

Passengers say Nigerian-born man tried to set off bomb on plane from Amsterdam

While full details of Friday's incident have yet to emerge, both Mr. Van Loan and Mr. Baird reiterated the Canadian government's support for using no-fly lists to increase aviation security and protect the public.

"It is clear that Canada is not immune from incidents of terrorism. Canada has disrupted terrorist plots, and has successively tried and convicted terrorists. We will continue to take the appropriate action to protect the safety and security of Canadians," they said.

U.S. law enforcement officials have identified the suspect involved in Friday's incident as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a Nigerian.

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