MONTREAL — Being famous has its perks, even in these days of heightened airport security.
Just ask Halle Berry.
A uniformed Montreal police officer helped whisk the Hollywood star and her boyfriend past an airport security queue while other passengers languished in long lines at the city’s Trudeau airport this week.
It was a particularly frantic holiday season as frustrated air travellers fretted about missing flights in the chaotic wake of a suspected terrorist attempt on Christmas Day.
Embarrassed Montreal police now say allowing Berry to breeze past other passengers was a mistake. The force issued a directive to its officers Friday, urging them to avoid a repeat of the episode.
Last Monday, a constable at the airport decided to let the photogenic couple through after a spur-of-the-moment request by Gabriel Aubry, a Quebec model who is Berry’s boyfriend and father of her 22-month-old daughter Nahla.
“The (boyfriend) of Ms. Berry asked if they could go faster through the line because they were late and they had the baby,” said Insp. Jimmy Cacchione, who heads the 36-member unit that patrols the Montreal airport.
“The officer took the personal initiative to allow them to go through the line faster, but that’s not something the Montreal police supports.”
Cacchione said police will escort certain celebrity passengers sometimes when security warrants to avoid a mob scene or autograph seekers.
They will also provide the same service sometimes to people with reduced mobility, or those travelling with children.
“Its usually a joint decision with the other partners involved — like the carriers and U.S. Customs,” Cacchione said.
But that wasn’t the case last Monday.
“It was decision made in good faith, but it’s not something we support and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Cacchione said.
The officer involved will not be reprimanded and the police airport unit will institute stricter rules for the future, Cacchione added.
Journalist Marieve Paradis says she spotted Berry, Aubry and their infant daughter bypassing a lengthy security lineup while other passengers waited for hours to get to U.S. Customs.
That was in addition to lengthy waits to check luggage and multiple security screenings.
“It shocked me that we were waiting in line and there were other babies and other children,” Paradis said in an interview from Los Angeles.
“Monday was chaotic at the airport, people were anxious and people were nervous and everyone was scared to miss their flights.”
Paradis, who spotted Berry again seated in the front row of the same Los Angeles-bound flight she was on, questioned in her blog Friday why a police escort would have been necessary for the power couple, who own a home north of Montreal.
“The thing that bothers me a lot was it was a police officer in uniform,” said Paradis.
“I’m not sure people from Montreal are very happy to learn that their money from their taxes is used for escorting celebrities.”
Paradis barely made the 8 a.m. flight herself.
She and her husband were scolded by Air Canada representatives for being late after being caught in long lineups despite arriving at the airport just before 5:30 a.m.
“If it would have been any other celebrity, I would have asked the same questions,” Paradis said. “Should we as a society accept that those favourable treatments are accepted?”
Security has been tight at airports across the globe since a foiled terror attack on Christmas Day.
Paradis is a freelance journalist from Montreal who now lives in L.A. and writes a column for the French version of the website msn.ca.
“I need to make one thing clear… I have absolutely nothing against Halle Berry, or movie stars,” Paradis wrote in her blog Friday.
But she questioned why they’d be allowed to cut in line in that situation. Others with children were also forced to wait.