I approached the airport security check at Pearson International last week for the first time since the tragic events of 9/11, expecting to be thoroughly searched. Instead, I inadvertently managed to bring a steak knife on board in my carry-on bag, which had gone through the X-ray machine.
The X-ray picked up my electric wheelchair's battery charger and alerted security that the device was there, but the knife, which was wrapped in a paper towel, went unnoticed.
And this is what we call a state of heightened alert?
I didn't intend to bring the knife aboard; I forgot to remove it before leaving home for the Canadian Electric Wheelchair Hockey Championships in British Columbia.
But I generally do carry one to cut up my food, because my mouth has a very limited range of motion.
Just how did it elude security?
The guard opened my bag, and then, seeing the battery charger inside, promptly closed it. He seemed much more concerned about the tear in my seat cushion than in the bag's contents, for reasons unbeknownst to me.
We were victorious at the weekend tournament, with a shootout win over Calgary in the gold-medal game. I decided to test the security system on my return flight home from Victoria early Monday morning.
Same thing happened again. The battery charger deflected attention from the knife in my carry-on bag.
This time I approached security with a paper bag tucked in behind my back. It contained a chocolate chip muffin I'd just bought in the airport.
It was taken from me and X-rayed. No foreign objects were found inside.
Renee Fairweather, director of communications, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, responds. . .
"I can't comment on the specific situation. But we have hired on contract several hundred more screening officers and put in place additional screening equipment and processes to ensure the system is the most secure that it can be. Unfortunately, this shouldn't have gotten through. In the last month alone we've intercepted more than 97,000 items that are prohibited on board an aircraft. So the system is definitely working."