Here’s the setup: You live in the US and you want to fly to Frankfurt, Germany.
In order to fly to Frankfurt, the airline takes your information, including your passport data, SSN, date of birth, address, phone numbers, contact numbers, credit card information and itinerary. Then it compares your data to a list of known Bad Guys, the No-Fly List.
Other data is obtained, including your flight history over the past years, seat selection, meal selection, previous duty-free purchases and all the frequent flyer data the airline has on you, which usually includes domestic flights, hotel stays, car rentals and so on. This wad of data is sent to Germany, who looks the data over and decides if you are OK to come to their country.
This, of course, happens after you buy the ticket and before you show up at the airport. The day of the flight to Frankfurt, you show up, with your bags, four hours before your flight.
The airline counter person says that you have been chosen as a selectee. They don’t tell you why. Why is because your name, Jerimiah Dingobaby, is close to Jim M. Dingleby, who is a known Bad Guy. Germany isn’t too keen on letting a known Bad Guy into their country and the airline isn’t keen on flying a known Bad Guy.
You get poked, prodded and squeezed like a melon by the TSA. The TSA and airline says you are now OK to fly. Germany grudgingly goes along, but is now scouring your data with a jaundiced eye. Expect to get the melon treatment at Frankfurt from the German Customs.
After all, you visited Columbus Ohio last February and Columbus is a known hotbed of anti-German sentiment, as well as Chicago, Charlotte and Cincinnati, all places you went to in the last five years, according to your Frequent Flyer account. Any city that starts with the letter C is not looked upon favorably by the German Customs, even if it is domestic business travel, in the US, by a US citizen and has nothing to do with Germany whatsoever.
If some of the data about you is wrong, misguided, opinionated, or not about you at all, your recourse is to sit down and shut up. If you don’t like it and complain, then there’s always more room on the No-Fly lists in Germany and the US.
That’s more or less how the system works today. There’s no problem with Germany not wanting Known Bad Guys in their country: They’re a sovereign country and they can decide who they choose to admit.
If the rules are nobody left-handed can come in, then so be it. The airline is acting sensibly by checking for left-handed passengers before the Frankfurt flight leaves, after all, the rules at the destination apply. The US airline has to go along, in order to land at Frankfurt.
The change that is currently under discussion is this: The US owned aircraft, with US citizens as passengers, going to Frankfurt, Germany, has to fly over Canada to get there. Canada has a 200-mile border limit, like most countries, so taking a flight that starts in Boston, Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit or Seattle, is technically within Canadian airspace. Chicago and Minneapolis are close.
Canada is now demanding that the full wad of data from the US sources must be given to the Canadian government and security folks before the aircraft leaves. The Canadians are going to scour the data and apply their rules. They don’t want anyone with the potential of being a Bad Guy, in their airspace and conceptually at least, ‘in’ their country.
Never mind that they’re talking about US citizens, on a US flight, that has nothing to do with Canada, has no intention of landing in Canada and has nothing whatsoever to do with Canadian immigration, Customs, security or laws. The Canadians demand the data and the implied threat is that the airline will not be allowed to overfly Canada to get to Frankfurt.
This will add several hours to the flight, as the aircraft will have to fly due East to get over the Atlantic ocean, then go North to get to the International airways.
Now, as a US Citizen, on a US flight, how do you feel about Canada having the full panoply of data on you? Do you trust Canada to treat the data securely and not accumulate more and more data on you? Will Canada use the data for its declared purpose, keeping Bad Guys out, or are they just fishing for data on US Citizens on US flights because they can?
I’d be grumpy about it, after all, who the hell died and made them Grace Kelly? When did Canada become the arbiter of who is allowed to fly or not fly, if the flight doesn’t land there?
Now, reverse the situation, exactly 180 degrees. The US Department of Homeland Paranoia and the TSA are proposing a change to overfly rules.
Any flight that enters US airspace must submit all passenger information to the TSA in advance. The TSA and Homeland Paranoia will determine the suitability of any passengers to overfly US airspace, regardless of the destination of the flight. That’s the real change. I made up the Canadian stuff.
Therefore any flight in Canada, going to Mexico, or the Caribbean is subject to US rules, as the aircraft has to fly over the US. Any Canadian flight going to Tokyo will most likely fly over Alaska, which is US airspace and the US rules will apply. Same with flights from the Pacific, most take the polar route, over Alaska, therefore the US rules would apply.
Even if the flight is only landing in Canada, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic, from India, Korea or Japan, the US rules would apply. Doesn’t matter if Korea Air or JAL has vetted all the passengers with Canadian, Mexican or Dominican Republic entry rules, as they should, the US rules also apply. If the US don’t like the passengers on that flight, the airline is potentially denied overflight rights.
Who died and made the TSA and Homeland Paranoia, Grace Kelly? When did the US become the sole arbiter of who is allowed to fly, or not fly, if the flight doesn’t land there?
Technically, many of Canada’s major airports are within the 200 mile international boundary with the US. Does that mean all our domestic flights are going to be subject to US security rules? Our standards have been higher and more thorough for more than twenty years, since the Air India bombing, so we have to lower our standards?
What happens with all that data about Canadian citizens on a Canadian aircraft, flying from one Canadian destination to another on a purely domestic flight? Why does the TSA need the credit card, frequent flyer, name and address data of a Canadian not going to the US?
Who says the TSA is responsible enough to even look at, let alone literate enough to read that level of data collection?
The US would never put up with that kind of crap from anyone else, so why are the trying it on the rest of the world? Because they think they can get away with it is why. The TSA and Homeland Paranoia want as much data as they can get on anyone, anywhere, regardless of where they live, work or go. All of this under the guise of "Security". Naturally, if you’re not for it, then you’re an Enemy and an Evildoer of the Axis of Evildoers Evil Axis.
My proposed rule in return? If the TSA and Homeland Paranoia change the rule, which they can, arbitrarily at their whim, then the Canadian and Mexican governments immediately impose the same rules in return, using the internationally agreed upon 200 mile limit boundaries.
In the interests of our sovereign "security", we’ll want US flights to be subject to our rules, in the event they might have to land in Canada or Mexico.
Check your personal GPS. I did, and found the proposed TSA rule at the coordinates of "WTF?" and "Bite Me!" at an elevation of "Kiss my pink, puckered, rear orifice!"