Our family’s experience with travel during these changing times has generally been positive. Have you been travelling in the last month? I am not referring to vacation travel, but travel across Canada to get home, and travel to essential work.
Sharing the Travel Details:
We booked a flight with Flair Airlines, a Canadian discount airline for our son to travel one way from Calgary to Toronto. This flight was booked mid-March for a late -March flight – for $119 plus baggage. The airline provided a fee-waiver for travel changes, which applied from March to May. At the time the airlines were reducing and consolidating flights, so the flight was originally direct, but added a short stopover in Winnipeg. It appeared that Flair merged the three daily flights into one – which was fair enough. Our son knew from his roommate (who had traveled home to Winnipeg a few days before) to expect multiple flight changes.
The passengers were seated with each middle seat empty. The plane landed for a quick stopover in Winnipeg and all passengers were asked to get off, while the plane was sanitized. According to Flair, the following procedures have been implemented:
“• Deep cleaning and disinfecting of all hard touch areas of the aircraft with the use of Boeing approved chemicals now occurs at each station stop
• Installation of HEPA Filters
• Increased the availability of hand sanitizers and wipes
• Establishing heightened boarding protocols“
Face masks were not required at that time, although our son wore one, but very few passengers did. On April 20th, the following was announced:
“As an important additional health measure to protect Canadians, Transport Canada has required that all air travellers must have a removable non-medical mask, face covering, N95 or surgical mask large enough to cover their nose and mouth during their travel through Canadian airports and in-flight.”
Flair appears to still be offering flights, but on a much reduced schedule. Where there were previously 1-3 flights per day, there seem to currently be only 2 flights per week. We also normally check for flights from some of the other smaller Ontario airports. We often find better prices for flights to and from Hamilton, Waterloo and London airports to destinations across Canada. While we could find no better ticket prices, Swoop and Westjet appear to still be running some flights out of Hamilton airport. London airport is offering only commuter flights to Toronto, and Westjet is offering just 2 flights a week between Calgary and Waterloo. These airports though are still hubs for domestic cargo.
According the Hamilton Airport: “While facing the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a drastic decline in passenger travel experienced globally, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport remains Canada’s largest domestic express cargo airport. As a gateway for facilitating goods movements across Canada and around the globe, the Airport offers safe and secure facilities for its 24/7 operation while partnering with key cargo companies such as Cargojet, DHL, UPS, Amazon, Canada Post and Purolator.”
Our daughter flew to Westjet Toronto to Vancouver yesterday to begin working for a deemed essential service. She had been booked to travel to British Columbia a few weeks earlier, but had cancelled her flight, when the airline had re-booked her on a different flight. Her work season had been delayed for a few weeks while Covid-19 isolation procedures were worked out. The airline did not charge for the cancellation, but also would only put the refund in her Westjet travel bank. She was able to use this for the re-book, but the flight was $100 or so more expensive. With there being fewer flights to pick from, things are a little more expensive.
The airport was ghostly empty, she and her travelling companion were masked and gloved up, but felt under-dressed when they encountered groups of travellers in white jumpsuits. These were full coveralls with hoods in paper or light cotton fabric. We were confused because some of these same people pushed ahead of her going through the doorway, and pushed too close in the baggage check area. If these travellers knew enough to acquire protective suits, how did they not understand social distancing?
The passengers were again seated, every other seat. Security was fast, as there were very few travellers – and the bar was open inside security for a beverage. On the plane, there was no food service, but a water bottle and packaged snack were deposited on each seat.
It seems that travel is still possible in these times, and is quite civilized. The airline and airport personnel are doing their best to sanitize and enable social distancing and travel changes.