I was not to be disappointed.
Arriving at 7:30AM for a 9:20AM flight, we assumed that we'd be in the clear. Alas, it was not to be.
I punched in our reservation code into the ATM-like machine that prints out boarding passes and was met with a long series of questions.
"Where are you staying?" asked the machine.
Typing on these keyboards is never an easy task. Next time, I'll skip this supposed time-saving maneuver and let the agent ask the questions!
With boarding passes in hand, we joined the surprisingly long line to process our bags.
This new automated terminal doesn't look so automated. Half an hour later, the Air Canada agent who scans our boarding passes, tells us politely that the baggage system is down. Arghh!
Notwithstanding, we are told to pick up our bags and proceed to the next queue, the one where our luggage is to be passed through a scanner and then sent on a mini-elevator ride to the basement for loading onto the airplane.
We proceed posthaste, but the agent's warning proves quite true, the line is not moving. Ah, technology!
After ten minutes of shuffling our feet, an airport employee points to a sign that says "OVERSIZE LUGGAGE." He winks and I the cotton to the message rather quickly. We drift out of the queue and make our way to the oversized baggage room as unobtrusively as possible. There's absolutely no lineup and the scanner is humming. The bored and uninterested employee that is manning the front end of the machine takes no notice that our bags are not particularly oversized.
Hooray for higher intelligence!
She scans our boarding passes and then puts the bags through the machine. Another agent removes them on the other side and sends them onward, downstairs. Before we egress, another agent scans our boarding passes...that's the fourth time!
Pleased with our good fortune, we join the next queue and happily, it is of reasonable length. After about ten minutes we accede to the security station where we are both to be personally scanned. What fun!
But before entering the hall, our tickets, of course, are scanned again, it's getting annoying!
"Take off your shoes , please!" shouts an agent as we approach.
This the first time I have ever been in a Canadian airport where everyone, as a matter of course, is required to remove their shoes.
It seems that this new terminal is run by American rules.
Come to think of it, the majority of the security and baggage agents are speaking Spanish amongst themselves. Perhaps this is the 'Twilight Zone' and we have already been magically transported to America! Strange thoughts occupy an idle and bored mind.
We get scanned, quickly pick up on footwear and attempt to make good our getaway, only to be thwarted by another agent who informs us that my wife has been randomly selected for a further security check. RATS!
She is steered over to the side and given as thorough a frisk as can be done in public. The agent searches every inch of her belongings, opening and closing every zipper including her wallet.. Bah!!!
"You won't find many terrorists that way, my friend! Middle-aged couples travelling together are on the lowest rung of the profile" I think to myself, careful to keep the thought private, lest I run afoul of authorities for mentioning the dreaded "T" word.
We make our way onto the US Customs hall, foolishly believing that all this foolishness is behind us, but as we pass through the portal, we are thrown for quite another shock.
The hall is filled to over-capacity. "Shit!"
I do a rough head count and realize that there are about 300-400 people ahead of us with only ten agents to process all of us. Worse still, the line is not moving, the agents are twiddling their thumbs.
"What's going on?" I ask someone ahead of us in the line.
"Dunno. System is down or something. Nobody is telling us anything."
I look at my watch and the sickening realization that we aren't going to make our flight comes over me. Frustration and anger can best describe my state of mind.
'We're are stuck in the lineup, like cows on a death march in a slaughterhouse," I ruminate. "There is no way out of the queue, no "Oversize Baggage" escape route here!"
We wait, we wait and we wait. Nobody tells us anything. People with Blackberries are saying that some flights are being delayed for half an hour.
There are no overhead electronic signs, no airline or airport agents to question, only Montreal city cops who look mildly amused at our predicament.
The line, starts to move, the agents begin processing passengers. "Hooray!"
Unfortunately, it takes another hour for us to get through. It's now 10.25 and our plane was scheduled to depart at 9:20. AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
We shuffle off to the gate to embrace our fate, dishearteningly, but upon arrival are astonished to see that our airplane has not left, it is still parked, awaiting latecomers!
It occurs to me that the airport authority has no doubt frozen the US departures in an attempt to alleviate the ongoing fiasco and perhaps salvage their reputation.
In my entire career of flying, I've never seen a airplane wait for over an hour for latecomers.
Our tickets are scanned for the sixth or seventh time and we show our passports to the gate agent, who mercifully represents the very last barrier to freedom.
We gleefully skip down the ramp towards the airplane door.
"STOP!!!!" shouts another security agent hovering in the gangway.
"You've been selected for a random security search!"
"WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!! WTFFFF!!!! .....Are you insane!!!!"
Once again a physical frisk and once again the agent opens everything we have, every zipper, every bag.
Time ticks onward.
Three hours to board a plane for an hour and a half trip. Aargh!...
Thank you, Trudeau Airport for allowing Homeland Security to dictate security procedures in our airport.
Our new terminal is now as indistinguishable as any of the nightmare facilities in the USA. Bah!!!
I have a question. Why the hell did we need a new terminal?
The old one worked just fine, as any regular flier to the USA can attest.
The truth is that air traffic between Canada and the USA is going down, not up.
Don't tell us that you're planning for a future full of millions of new passengers. We've heard that before... it's called M-I-R-A-B-E-L. Spare us, please!!!!
The Trudeau Airport authority is out of control and on a spending spree that makes little sense.
Excessive landing fees for airlines and additional fees, tacked onto passenger tickets, are needed to pay for all this foolishness. Delux airport installations and ridiculous and over the top security controls are as stupid as they are unnecessarily expensive.
The new US terminal represents a giant step backward. Enjoy!