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Woman battles to remove name from no-fly list

U.S. travel 'dicey,' Courtenay senior says

Glenda Hutton, 66, of Courtenay has never been arrested, doesn't have a criminal record and over a long career as a school secretary never caused anyone trouble.

So it's perplexing just how her name turned up on a U.S. no-fly list, but there it is. Hutton has been wrangling with U.S. and Canadian government bureaucracy for over a year trying to clear her name and regain her freedom to travel to the U.S. and beyond.

She first learned something was wrong in October 2007 when she was delayed at the Air Canada check-in counter at Comox from boarding a flight to Calgary.

"They said my name was on a list and they had to confirm with Transport Canada whether I was allowed on the flight," said Hutton.

She was dumbfounded while her husband Ken thought it was a joke. She was allowed on the aircraft but a month later she was flagged when trying to board a Japan Airlines flight to Thailand. "They said they could get me out of Canada but feared for my safety once I got to Bangkok, Thailand," Hutton said. The couple decided to stay home and sort the mess out. Japan Airlines refunded their tickets.

"I'm angry, I'm frustrated and I'm disappointed," said Hutton. She's OK to fly within Canada but doesn't want to take the chance of flying abroad. She did take a day-trip to the U.S. in the couple's motorhome and didn't have any problem.

Hutton was on a Canadian no-fly list but her name has been removed. She's convinced that her name remains on a U.S. list. "Air Canada told me that there was someone else in the world with my name who is a very, very bad person," Hutton said.

The U.S. Homeland Security office told Hutton that they won't get involved until she encounters a problem on U.S. soil. "They have suggested I buy a ticket, go to the airport and see if they let me on the plane. That's pretty dicey. ... What if I get to Fort Lauderdale and end up in a secondary screening room and in the meantime my cruise has left?

"Then I have to buy another ticket to come back."

The RCMP and Transport Canada have given Hutton documents to assure her re-entry into Canada and to confirm her identity.

The first step to solving such problems is determining which list a person's name is on, said Maryse Durrette of Transport Canada.

"Airlines have their own lists," said Durrette. "There's a Canadian list called the 'specified persons' list but when they are on the 'no fly' list in the U.S., they need to contact Homeland Security."

Amy Kudwa of Homeland Security said people can face problems if they have similar names to those who are on the U.S. no-fly list. To clear up problems, people can provide Homeland Security with documents proving they're someone other than an individual who may be on the no-fly list.

A U.S. security branch, dubbed the Transit Security Administration, is taking over the checking of names. "That will start in early 2009 ... and we think that will stop misidentifications in large part," said Kudwa.

More biographical information will be collected, including gender and date of birth. "As it stands now, with airlines checking all they have is the name."

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