Security Breach Shuts Vancouver International Terminal

A passenger bound for South Korea exposed a glaring security flaw yesterday when he cleared security, then returned to the public area before proceeding to his gate by walking past security.

The incident prompted the airport to shut down the international terminal for more than three hours and forced the rescreening of 3,000 passengers.

Anna-Karina Tabunar, a spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, said the male passenger had already cleared security. But a security official noticed that the man had more liquid than is allowed.

"He went to be screened, himself and his carry-on bags, and all that was fine. Except he had some liquids with him that exceeded the allowable amount."

Passengers are now allowed to bring on board containers up to 100 millilitres, unless it's milk or juice for children 2 and younger, she said.

The man was given two options: He could check the excess liquid in his carry-on luggage or give the liquids to somebody who might take them on a subsequent flight.

"He opted for the second option and he turned around and went back into the public area, handed his liquids over to a family member, and then he should have come back in line to be rescreened," she said.

The man, however, walked through a door and headed to his departure gate instead of being rescreened.

"He thought he was clear to go so he just walked straight in. He opened up the gate."

Tabunar said the security personnel noticed him "and that's when this whole chain of events began."

The man somehow made it to his departure gate before he was located.

"They are talking with him and it will be a joint effort with the airport, the RCMP and screening officers. There is also some videotape that we'll be looking (at) to try to identify how this happened," said Tabunar, adding the incident would be scrutinized "to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Airport spokesperson Ralph Eastman said the incident occurred about 11: 20 a.m. PST and CATSA notified the airport. As a precaution, all departing international flights were held, but Eastman said domestic and incoming flights were not affected. The airport decided to remove all the passengers waiting for international flights from the terminal and rescreen them.

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