Brussels attack: What Canadian travellers need to know
Please note: This post has been updated with new information about operations at Brussels Airport.
The federal government says no Canadians have been killed or injured in the attacks in Brussels Tuesday morning.
Two bombs went off at Zaventem Airport, followed by a third blast at a subway station in the Belgian capital. At least 31* people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the three explosions.
At least 517 Canadians have registered as being in the country, according to Global Affairs, but the department cautions registration is voluntary and not all Canadian visitors register with government’s Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
For Canadians still in Belgium, the federal government encourages registration whether you’re a visitor or residing abroad. You can register here.
LIVE COVERAGE: Brussels on lock down after explosions rock airport, subway
Any Canadian in need of emergency assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Brussels at 32 (2) 741-0611 or call Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre collect at +1 613 996 8885 or at +1 800 387 3124.
An email can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone wishing to let family and friends know their whereabouts can use Facebook’s Safety Check feature to notify followers. Google, however, did not activate its Person Finder tool, which has previously been used in the wake of natural disasters such as the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Canadian telecom companies like Telus and WindMobile are lifting fees to call and text loved ones in Brussels, until April 5. Three U.S. telecom companies are doing the same.
A Rogers spokesperson confirmed to Global News the company would extend the same courtesy to its customers. The catch is customers will need to contact the company to have those charges waived.
Brussels Airport was shut down following the blasts and is now expected to remain closed to inbound and outbound passenger traffic through Friday. The airport has advised people whose plans may be affected to contact their airlines. (More details on flight changes and cancellations below)
Although it is not in operation, the government has warned all Canadians in Belgium to avoid the area surrounding the airport.
Getting around Brussels
Belgian officials have asked all members of the public to stay indoors.
The city, home to the European Union headquarters, has been on lockdown throughout the day and transportation has been limited.
The bomb that went off at Maalbeek metro station, where 20 people were killed, prompted closure of the subway system for much of the day. But service began resuming around 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET).
The Twitter account for CrisisCenter Belgium is posting updates about which transit routes are in operation, as well as tweeting other information, in multiple languages, about the evolving situation.
READ MORE: How to call loved ones in Brussels for free
The terror threat alert in Brussels and across Belgium is at 4, the most serious level, which means there is a serious or imminent threat to security — the same level as in the wake of the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, 2015, when Belgian authorities conducted raids and manhunts in the suburbs of Brussels in search of suspects.
Travel to and from Brussels and other cities
The Canadian government is warning travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution” but has not issued a nationwide advisory against travel to or around Belgium.
As far as air travel between Canadian airports and Brussels is concerned, Air Canada will allow all passengers who purchased a ticket for travel to Brussels or via Brussels Airport, between March 22 and 28, to change flights free of charge. The ticket must have been purchased no later than March 22 and the flights must be rebooked for travel before April 30.
U.S.-based Delta, which had to divert two Brussels-bound flights, has offered refunds to travellers whose flights were cancelled or significantly delayed. But the airline is also waiving fees for a one-time ticket change for passengers scheduled to travel through Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris until March 31.
American Airlines will also offer a one-time ticketing fee waiver for tickets that were purchased prior to March 22 for travel scheduled through March 29, provided the passenger was set to travel on American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia Airlines. The changes are allowed for flights originating, destined for, or stopping over in Brussels, Paris (Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports), London, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Amsterdam.
Eurostar, the high-speed rail service linking London with several major centres in western Europe, has limited service to and from Brussels and advised customer not to travel unless it is essential. The company will resume regular service on Wednesday. Passengers whose travel plans were disrupted because of the attacks will be able to rebook without charge or will be eligible for a refund.
Clarification: This death toll from the attacks has been revised to 31
With files from David Shum and Nicole Bogart
© 2016 Shaw Media