So we’re in Calgary and it’s wonderful. Visiting my in-laws is always a blast and we are fully enjoying the beautiful weather, company and scenery the city has to offer. Unfortunately, our trip got off to a rocky start when we arrived at Pearson airport yesterday morning.
We were in excellent spirits. It was our first flight as a family of five, and were excited to take our Baby on her first trip to Calgary. We were directed by the Air Canada agent to retrieve our boarding passes at the self-serve kiosks. After this didn’t work, we lined up to check in with a real person. The agent behind the desk asked for our ID’s, and proceeded to type our info into the computer.
Suddenly, as she typed in my confirmation number, her hand went to her chest and she exclaimed "Oh My God!". She looked at me suspiciously, and asked me – only me not my husband or any of my kids – for my passport. I said I didn’t have it and reiterated that I had my driver’s licence and other forms of ID that a domestic flight check-in required.
"Oh." she replied. She then grabbed the phone and started whispering furtively while I watched. I heard her muttering my birthday and it clicked! Once again, for the fourth time, I was the victim of racial profiling while traveling because I’m a Muslim! I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, and I exclaimed "Oh – did my name turn up on SOME LIST BECAUSE OF MY ETHNICITY!" At this point, I am shouting and very emotional (please note that 3 weeks after 9/11 I was removed from an Air Canada flight because I was "suspicious" and then in September 2005, I missed a friend’s wedding because once again, I triggered a high-alert security check).
After some more whispering and secretive typing, the agent in question grudgingly gave me a boarding pass. Before she handed it to me she said, "You should calm down. I don’t know why you’re angry with me – be angry with Air Canada." Listen, woman, right now you are the face of Air Canada and the voice of their offensive policies. I hope you read this.
The icing on the cake was when we reached the gate and I realised they had no seat for me. My husband and kids were all seated together, and I, horrifying threat to society that I am, was seated in the very back, shoved against a wall with my infant.