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Canadian travellers get a fast lane at U.S. airports

The Nexus system will now apply to Canadians flying between U.S. airports such as Chicago and New York.

Associated Press

Frequent Canadian travellers won't have to wait quite so long at some U.S. airport security checkpoints, doing the dance of taking off their belts, holding up their pants and putting their laptop through the X-ray.

Canadians who have a Nexus card for frequent travellers will be able to jump the queue at 27 U.S. airports participating in the express border-crossing program, when taking domestic flights within the United States.

So Canadians flying from, say, Chicago's O'Hare airport to New York's LaGuardia will be able to use an express line to get through airport security faster. The Nexus program is available by signing up through the Canada Border Services Agency (at .

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Passengers in the express queue won't have to remove their shoes and can keep their laptops in their cases and airplane-safe liquids in their carry-ons. They can also keep their belts on.

Nexus users can get into the faster lane by showing their boarding passes at the security checkpoint. The bordering pass contains information in the bar code that allows them to go ahead.

"Especially for frequent business travellers – most Nexus members are frequent travellers between Canada and the United States – it is a huge improvement for the passenger experience going through airports in the U.S.," said Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council.

However, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) noted that this only applies to those participating 27 U.S. airports (listed at ).

Still, U.S. and Canadian officials were highlighting the greater cross-border access. "This will mean smarter and faster air travel for Canadian Nexus members travelling within the U.S., while maintaining a high level of aviation security," Canadian Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher said in a statement.

The comment is remarkably similar to one made by Transportation Minister Denis Lebel in February: "This change will make air travel from Canada to the United States more convenient, while maintaining a high level of aviation security." That was at an earlier stage of the program, announcing the introduction of Nexus lanes at Canadian airports for flights to the U.S.

U.S. airports have been gradually following suit. The number of participating U.S. airports is scheduled to rise to 35 by the end of the year, a TSA spokesperson said.

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And although some have characterized the U.S. system as possibly lagging the access to faster lanes in Canada, Mr. Gooch at the Canadian Airports Council noted that Canadian and American associations have been in close cooperation with the two governments.

"It's very much in lockstep," he said.

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