It is possible this practice has stopped with eTA but previously whenever I boarded a plane to Canada there were people with laptops checking the paperwork of people in the queue. Who were these people? Was this just security or some sort of pre-filtering for immigration?

  • I just flew from La Guardia to Toronto and saw no such people. I've seen similar people checking documents for flights to New York, however. – phoog Jul 25 '16 at 11:13
  • How long ago was this ? Any airport specifically ? How do you know they were checking paperwork ? – blackbird Jul 25 '16 at 13:39
  • LHR and CDG both, 2012-2015 at least. – chx Jul 25 '16 at 15:40
  • Were you questioned ? I'm pretty sure you can request to see credentials from anyone who claims to be authority – blackbird Jul 25 '16 at 17:03

Both airlines and airports can add extra levels of security to departures. These are often in response to changes in threat levels (which may or may not have been made public).

In some places these extra security checks are preformed by contracted security firms, sometimes by airport security, sometimes by government security.

I have had flights were I encountered pre-check-in security doing Q&A (who, where, why) followed by pre-boarding security doing bag inspections.

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