OTTAWA (Reuters) - Air travelers in Canada who make comments about bombs and guns will from now on only be arrested if it is clear they are making a serious threat, officials said on Wednesday.
The Canadian Air Transport Safety Authority, trying to clamp down on screeners who alert police every time they hear alarming words, has issued a bulletin urging staff to show more discretion.
A person who announces “You better look through my suitcase carefully, because there’s a bomb in there”, “I am going to set fire to this airplane with this blowtorch” or “The man in seat 32F has a machine gun” will still be arrested.
But someone who remarks “Your hockey team is going to get bombed (badly beaten) tonight”, “Hi Jack!” or “You don’t need to frisk me, I’m not carrying a weapon” will first be warned about their behavior.
Brigitte Caron, a spokeswoman for the authority, compared the new system to handing out yellow warning cards in soccer. A player can receive one yellow card and still stay in the game.
“Sometimes it’s just a joke and the person will say ‘I’m sorry, I was upset’,” she said. In recent years more than 100 passengers have been arrested for making threatening remarks in Canadian airports, she added.