Wednesday 13 October 2021

Flying Domestically in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last week, I flew domestically to and from Calgary, Alberta. The flight barely exceeds an hour of flight time from Vancouver, British Columbia, so I could hardly take advantage of inflight entertainment. Not that there have been many movies released since the onset of the pandemic. Since returning, I have been fielding questions about what it was like to fly during the pandemic? 

Normal travel has resumed for domestic flights in Canada. I am a Canadian citizen and did not face any hurdles as one. I booked my tickets normally through the airline carrier's website. There is a small blurb on the website advising guests that are experiencing any flu-like symptoms to refrain from flying. Flying domestically within Canada does not require a negative COVID-19 test. I checked in remotely 24 hours in advance. Since I was not checking any luggage in, so after arriving at YVR airport, I proceeded directly to security. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. Did the normal security screening process at YVR airport after which strolled around the terminal until it was time to report to the gate for boarding. 

THREE COVID-19 related changes implemented by both Air Canada (YVR Airport) and WestJet (YYC Airport): 

1. Proof of Vaccination | at the gate during boarding, all passengers must present their proof of vaccination along with their boarding passes and IDs. 

2. Sanitization | Air Canada gave each guest a small package that contained a fresh mask and 3x sanitizing wipes and a swanky note from Air Canada's "Chief Medical Officer". West Jet was less fancy and basically, when you step onboard the airplane, the greeting air hostess was holding a can of Lysol wipes that each guest could pull a wipe from and use to clean their seat area. 

3. Face Masks | All passengers must wear their face mask that covers both the nose and mouth during the entirety of the flight even while you are seated. The only exception being when eating or drinking. 

I have so many questions for the person that decided that proof of vaccination should be checked the moment before boarding the airplane. Why is proof of vaccination not being verified at check-in or at security? This would give the passengers time to get their documents ready because if a passenger does not have their proof of vaccination, they are denied boarding. Literally so dumb because not every passenger understands that proof of vaccination is mandatory. A friend of mine had all FOUR of their international flights delayed because passengers did not have their proof of vaccination. Apparently, some passengers left it in their checked luggage so their pieces of luggage had to be located and removed from the airplane and brought up to the passengers at the gate. Honestly, in my mind, once I have gone through security, I am basically good to go! 

Also, proof of vaccination can be easily faked and the staff checking barely even glanced at it. If they are going to put these limitations in place then check it properly. The only place that actually scanned and checked my BC vaccine pass was a family farm in Langley BC! This is hilarious because you are outdoors with acres of land to spread out on! 

In terms of the sanitization wipes, great idea, but do airlines not sanitize the seats and tray tables between each flight? Does this mean pre-pandemic planes were never being cleaned? Terrifying and might be the ugly truth. Or perhaps an extremely smart executive realized that sanitization responsibilities can now be passed onto the passengers. That executive deserves a raise because they just saved the airline millions in cleaning costs. 

I completely agree with the mouth and nose needing to be covered by a mask at all times on the airplane. Countless studies have proven that proper wear of face masks reduces the spread of the infectious Corona Virus. Unfortunately, there will always be difficult people that will refuse to don a mask resulting in delayed flights and distressing the staff. 

My need to be on an airplane outweighed my fear of germs and contracting the terrifying virus that has sent the entire world into a tailspin. In fact, many have asked me why did I pick Calgary and the honest answer is: I wanted to go on an airplane and Calgary was the cheapest flight from Vancouver! 

I strongly believe the chances of contracting COVID-19 from a flight or your local grocer are equal. Take the necessary precautions and make smart decisions. Now that I have flown once during the pandemic, I will most certainly be flying again in the future. 


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