CATSA vs. TSA?

Old Nov 14, 10, 3:00 pm
  #1  
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CATSA vs. TSA?

What is like these days to deal with CATSA vs. TSA? Especially CATSA in Toronto & Thunder Bay? Note that this questions pertains only to flights between Canada & Europe or entirely within Canada.

In December I am due to lead an FT DO in Athens, and my wife & I originally had planned to head to Frankfurt & Köln afterwards. Due to a schedule change, I might be able to force the ticket to be canceled & refunded, although I would have a prepaid LH itin on the line for ATH-FRA.

I am considering rebooking it as an award ticket originating in Thunder Bay via Toronto.

Would we be much happier dealing with CATSA than TSA?
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
Would we be much happier dealing with CATSA than TSA?
I don't know if you would be much happier, but in my experience, on average, the Canadians are politer and friendlier.

You also don't have to take off your shoes.

You also do not have to show any ID at all until you get to your departure gate for domestic flights.

They do have NOS at YYZ, but so far I do not think there is any obligation to use it. I don't know about what happens if you opt out.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
What is like these days to deal with CATSA vs. TSA? Especially CATSA in Toronto & Thunder Bay? Note that this questions pertains only to flights between Canada & Europe or entirely within Canada.

In December I am due to lead an FT DO in Athens, and my wife & I originally had planned to head to Frankfurt & Köln afterwards. Due to a schedule change, I might be able to force the ticket to be canceled & refunded, although I would have a prepaid LH itin on the line for ATH-FRA.

I am considering rebooking it as an award ticket originating in Thunder Bay via Toronto.

Would we be much happier dealing with CATSA than TSA?
YYZ is my home airport and most of my travel is domestic or international - I've sworn off US travel. In relative terms ... CATSA is a joy to deal with. No shoe carnival, belts on, and with the odd exception, friendly and polite.

CATSA in US departures is a more polite clone of the TSA ... they kowtow to the TSA regulations, but at least don't bark at you.

Never flown through Thunder Bay, but a domestic flight originating in a small Canadian town is generally the "have a good flight, sir" type of security.

Originally Posted by okazon69 View Post
They do have NOS at YYZ, but so far I do not think there is any obligation to use it. I don't know about what happens if you opt out.
See the Airports with NoS thread ... Friendly Skies has kept it current as far as I know it. (I have no experience with Terminal 3 as I always fly Air Canada).

In T1, my opt out experience has been friendly 3 out of 4 times ... the clerk I had in October was very professional (even if she was following TSA protocol). "I will put on new gloves now", "I will feel inside your belt area now", "I need to pat down your back now" ... with the appropriate pause for me to interject before she actually acted. She allowed me to move to where I could see my bags, and she stopped the moat dragon from moving them any further.

That being said ... it's also the place where I had my full-grope opt-out experience ...

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Nov 14, 10 at 10:23 pm Reason: merge consecutive posts
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:12 pm
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i fly out of ywg instead of msp, such a big difference in attitude, no barking , no tough guy act, please and thank you instead. when i really have to fly in the usa i get into the system at gfk much more pleasant than msp
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:15 pm
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For non-USA flights NoS scanners are only used as an option to resolve alarms from the WTMD.

Laptops out, Kippy bag out, shoes & belts stay on.

Overall CATSA is "better" then the TSA. Even for US bound travel when I was selected to for NoS everyone was annoyed that I opted out but remained very professional.

Also - the new TSA "standard" genital grope pat-down does not exist in Canada.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by okazon69 View Post
They do have NOS at YYZ, but so far I do not think there is any obligation to use it. I don't know about what happens if you opt out.
I should add ... the selection for NoS is done by "randomizer" (fancy word) ... step on the mat, get the lucky arrow, or not. Left Arrow - you've been selected, right arrow - old fashioned security. (automatic NoS if you've been SSSS'd). But at least it's not a person trying to be random (by selecting Women and teenagers) - CATSA has tried to take that out of the equation.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:18 pm
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In my experience there are fewer "cop wannabes" contracted to provide services for CATSA than there are employed by the TSA. Regardless, both entities get my blood boiling.

Originally Posted by okazon69 View Post
They do have NOS at YYZ, but so far I do not think there is any obligation to use it. I don't know about what happens if you opt out.
I got directed to the nude-o-scope on a recent domestic flight ex-YYZ (at "random"). The other option was a pat-down.

Originally Posted by fly-yul View Post
For non-USA flights NoS scanners are only used as an option to resolve alarms from the WTMD.
That's not been my experience.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Nov 14, 10 at 10:24 pm Reason: merge consecutive posts
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:21 pm
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The way things work in Canadian airports, (YOW, YYZ and perhaps YVR) is that lane assignments (eg NoS or NoS-less lanes) are determined by lot. All passengers (except Nexus and other trusted traveler programs) go through the same pre-inspection maze. At the front of the maze, you step on a scale-like mat and by apparent randomness, assigns you a direction and/or a specific screening lane that you must follow.


W/r/t the NoS in YYZ, they have them in the domestic checkpoints and I have seen them in operation. I wasn't assigned to a lane that included the NoS, so I would not know personally the options available to me on a first-hand basis. I did get my first opt-out experience at the transborder checkpoint and was told I had two options, NoS or sweeping-action frisk (this was before the "enhanced" gobbledygook was instituted).
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by fly-yul View Post
For non-USA flights NoS scanners are only used as an option to resolve alarms from the WTMD.
I got "randomized" at YVR - the lucky left arrow ... but I don't know what percentage of people they are randomizing for NoS for domestic travel. Even then, opt-out pat down was a breeze in comparison.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:25 pm
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Originally Posted by yyzvoyageur View Post
That's not been my experience.
Ok - I stand corrected.

Can you confirm that the pat down was the normal one and the new TSA version?

Originally Posted by FAIPDXFlyer View Post
The way things work in Canadian airports, (YOW, YYZ and perhaps YVR) is that lane assignments (eg NoS or NoS-less lanes) are determined by lot. All passengers (except Nexus and other trusted traveler programs) go through the same pre-inspection maze. At the front of the maze, you step on a scale-like mat and by apparent randomness, assigns you a direction and/or a specific screening lane that you must follow.


W/r/t the NoS in YYZ, they have them in the domestic checkpoints and I have seen them in operation. I wasn't assigned to a lane that included the NoS, so I would not know personally the options available to me on a first-hand basis. I did get my first opt-out experience at the transborder checkpoint and was told I had two options, NoS or sweeping-action frisk (this was before the "enhanced" gobbledygook was instituted).
Is this the case for domestic travel? It could be that I never noticed this as at YUL they have a special lane for people using mobile boarding pass bar codes and I have NEXUS as well.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Nov 14, 10 at 10:25 pm Reason: merge consecutive posts
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by fly-yul View Post
Ok - I stand corrected.

Can you confirm that the pat down was the normal one and the new TSA version?
I can't; I opted for the nude-o-scope.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:32 pm
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Originally Posted by fly-yul View Post
Can you confirm that the pat down was the normal one and the new TSA version?
3 of 4 US departures (from YYZ) pat-downs have been standard TSA ones, but more polite. The 1 of 4 was brutal, which brought me to FT - much like the other stories you hear here. No predictable timing though, because 1st was fine, 2nd was brutal, 3rd and 4th were fine -it probably coincided with the TSA "test period".

Opt-out pat down on my YVR-YYZ flight was pat-down-lite, and clearly done only because I had opted out and they had to do something. A brief frisk that I don't think even covered most of my body - hands barely touched me.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:33 pm
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Originally Posted by yyzvoyageur View Post
I can't; I opted for the nude-o-scope.
A personal choice.

But for others reading I opted out at YUL on NOV 4 heading to the USA (for SMDO2) and received a typical pat-down and not the new enhanced one.
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by fly-yul View Post
Is this the case for domestic travel? It could be that I never noticed this as at YUL they have a special lane for people using mobile boarding pass bar codes and I have NEXUS as well.
NEXUS security line at YYZ T1 domestic departures now avoids the NoS except for alarm resolution. (and they let you try, try again before NoS)
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Old Nov 14, 10, 3:36 pm
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Originally Posted by lostinthewash View Post
3 of 4 US departures (from YYZ) pat-downs have been standard TSA ones, but more polite. The 1 of 4 was brutal, which brought me to FT - much like the other stories you hear here. No predictable timing though, because 1st was fine, 2nd was brutal, 3rd and 4th were fine -it probably coincided with the TSA "test period".

Opt-out pat down on my YVR-YYZ flight was pat-down-lite, and clearly done only because I had opted out and they had to do something. A brief frisk that I don't think even covered most of my body - hands barely touched me.
1) Welcome to FT! At least some good came from your pat-down!

2) By brutal do you mean annoying etc or that they ran their hand up your leg and made contact with your genitals? I made a production of my recent opt out heading to the US at YUL. If they had the ability to offer a more enhanced version of the pat-down they would have.
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