Genderless identification just won’t fly, a New Zealand woman learned this week while trying to catch a domestic flight out of Kelowna International Airport.
Sharon Duley is a frequent traveler, and was booked on a flight to Vancouver Sunday when she realized she didn’t have her passport with her — it was in a bag with her husband who had chosen to drive the route.
She did a quick search on the airline website and learned that all needed to fly was valid government issued, photo ID.
“My New Zealand Driver’s Licence is a valid government-issued, photo ID … so I thought it was fine,” Duley said, from New Zealand.
She learned at the gate, and during a subsequently longer read of Canadian aviation regulations, that it wasn’t entirely the case. Information indicating gender is required on one piece of ID, so she was barred from the flight.
“The thing that gets me — and the law is the law — is there’s no way they are going to identify a person, especially in the current climate, by their gender,” she said.
At the airport Duley found out that the same thing happened to an Aussie the week before.
“It’s just not a good way to treat tourists,” she said. “When you come in legally on your passport and you’re flying domestically, it doesn’t say you need a passport.”
A witness to the situation also saw fault in how it was dealt with and detailed it on Facebook this week.
“In this day of gender neutrality….we are at the airport boarding a flight to Vancouver and they removed the bags of a lady from New Zealand and won’t let her on the plane because her Driver’s License doesn’t specify male or female,” said Blake Roberts.
“(They don’t specify there evidently). This poor lady is left crying and stranded alone at the airport in Kelowna. The federal government better get consistent in its law and the fact that the WestJet staff wouldn’t turn a blind eye for her? Poor form WestJet.” “
When flying a domestic flight passports, which have gender on them, aren’t required and licences can be used. But apparently not all of them are consistent and certain things are required.
“Although I cannot speak to this specific situation, in accordance with Transport Canada regulations, WestJet must check identification at the boarding gate for all guests 18 years of age and older,” said Lauren Stewart, a WestJet representative. “The name on the ID must match the name used on the reservation or ticket.”
At the boarding gate, a guest must present:
• Two pieces of valid government-issued non-photo identification with matching names, as long as at least one piece also includes the date of birth and gender; or
• One piece of valid government-issued identification with photo showing the name, date of birth and gender.
Jasmine Patrick, communications staff for the airport, couldn’t say if this sort of situation had occurred before and noted that City of Kelowna policies protect against any kind of discrimination among staff, this case is beyond their jurisdiction and is a question for the federal regulator, Transport Canada.
Transport Canada responded to a query and said that in August 2015, Public Safety Canada created the Secure Air Travel Regulations, which replaced previous regulations.
“In general, the purpose of this section of the Secure Air Travel Regulations is to ensure air carriers confirm the identification presented belongs to the travelling passenger in order to prevent circumvention of the Passenger Protect Program and the Secure Air Travel Act list,” reads the statement.
The Government of Canada is exploring an update of the Secure Air Travel Regulations should amendments to the Secure Air Travel Act be passed as part of Bill C-59.
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