Airlines have begun suspending service to international travellers in response to Canada’s COVID-19 travel ban.
As of Monday, Canada instructed all airlines to screen oncoming passengers and refuse service to anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Transport Canada has issued an interim order stating that if onboarding passengers display a fever of over 38°C, coughing and breathing difficulties they may not be allowed to board unless they have a medical certificate that says the symptoms are not a result of COVID-19.
Passengers must also be asked if they have been denied travel within the past 14 days due to COVID-19 symptoms. If the answer is “yes” then they may not board without a medical certificate. The penalty for individuals who are found to be non-compliant with this regulation is $5,000.
Airlines are also supposed to deny boarding to all passengers who are not exempt from the new restrictions. Exemptions include Canadian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, among others. Fines for corporations that do not comply with the new measures are set at $25,000.
The travel ban will be in place until June 30, according to today’s order of council.
Airlines are also implementing their own COVID-19 containment measures. Though domestic flights are still allowed within Canada, some airlines have decided to either limit or stop service altogether for the time being.
Sunwing began suspending all southbound flights on Tuesday, March 17. The measure will be in effect until April 9. Northbound flights continue to operate.
They are also offering travel credits to those who booked flights and vacation packaged between March 17 and April 30. The credit will have the value of the amount paid, and be redeemable for future travel for up to 24 months after the original departure date.
Travel credits can be requested online.
Porter will be temporarily suspending service starting at the end of the operating day tomorrow, March 20, and resume on June 1.
Emails will be sent to customers and travel agents who had bookings during the suspension period with specific instructions pertaining to their specific reservation.
All flight change and cancellation fees have been waived. Customers can use the online portal to make changes.
Air Canada has already started suspending services, some for the entire summer season.
Most routes are scheduled for a temporary suspension until April 30. Suspension start dates depend on the route.
Air Canada is waiving change fees on existing bookings for those who purchased their tickets between March 4 and April 30. Customers are allowed to make a one-time change to flights without incurring a change fee, as long as the change is made up to two hours before the scheduled flight.
Changes can be made online, through a travel agent or by calling Air Canada.
Refund eligibility options are available in passengers’ booking information.
Westjet is suspending commercial operations for all transborder and international flights starting Sunday, March 22. All affected flights will need to launch by 11:59 p.m. local time on Sunday. The suspension will last 30 days.
Ticket sales for departures have been suspended as of March 18. Westjet says the measure is intended to focus their capacity on bringing Canadians home.
Domestic travel will be limited by 50 per cent over the next 30 days.
Westjet has implemented a flexible change policy so customers can adjust travel plans as needed. Changes can be made online.
Westjet is also lowering prices on remaining seats to Canada, their webpage says.
Air Transat is gradually suspending flights until April 30.
Sales for departures have been suspended between Canada and Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico as well as the U.S. until April 30. Flights are continuing for a few more days in order to bring people back to their home countries.
Air Transat did not release a date for when they would fully stop their services.
Information regarding rerouting flights will be published on the Air Transat webpage. Passengers whose flights have been cancelled will not see a price difference for rebooking, and there will be no additional booking fee.
If the cancellation of the flight means customers were unable to travel, they will receive a credit for future travel to be used within 24 months of their original travel dates.
All airlines report a high volume of calls during this exceptional period of change. Many have made customer assistance available on their webpages.
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