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Air travel from Manitoba to the U.S. may be legal, but experts say there may be complications

Travel experts: Manitobans should consider extra steps before making plans
From insurance to health restrictions to suitable destinations, there are several extra things people need to consider before booking tickets to a destination this year. Global's Amber McGuckin has the story.
After months of isolation, if you’ve been wanting to visit friends or family in the United States, you can now do that, even though the Canada/U.S. land border remains closed.
Air Canada has begun promoting flights for leisure or business, using a loophole in federal regulations, and causing no small amount of controversy.

Travel writer Barry Choi said he sees it as a smart move for Air Canada, although it’s causing confusion for many Canadians.

“There’s still a lot of confusion out there,” Choi told 680 CJOB. “People don’t realize that even though the land borders are closed, you can still travel to the U.S. by air.

“I think Air Canada is smart because they’re offering discounts for future travel — obviously, once you book it, Air Canada has your money. I think it’s a smart move. Basically, they’re offering a discount when you pre-pay.”

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An Air Canada ticketing station THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
An Air Canada ticketing station THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Choi said he doesn’t think this means there will be a rush of travellers to the U.S. anytime soon, but that the airline has come up with a novel way of bringing in revenue during a period that is fraught with worry.

“Domestic is the easiest way to travel right now,” he said. “Right now it’s a good time to visit local.

“If you haven’t explored Manitoba, maybe do a little road trip. You have Alberta not too far, Saskatchewan… maybe come to Ontario.

“Myself, as a Canadian, I haven’t visited much of Canada, but I’ve booked more day trips than I have in my life, so I’m excited.”

Read more: Air Canada promoting ‘leisure’ travel to U.S. despite advisories warning against non-essential trips

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Choi said even domestic travellers should make sure they learn and respect local quarantine laws at their destinations, and that travelling within your own province or region is a great way to help out the local economy.

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“Why wouldn’t you want to support local — especially within your own province? You know that a lot of local restaurants and stores have been hurting.”

An infectious disease expert said Canadians need to be aware of the potential downsides of travelling to the U.S. — which doesn’t only include a greater possibility of picking up the coronavirus on your trip.

Read more: Travel Manitoba targeting locals and some neighbours with latest ad campaign

“I think this is a tough line,” said Dr. Craig Janne, associate professor of immunology, microbiology, and infectious diseases at the University of Alberta.

“I think Air Canada is within their rights to advertise legal travel, but they need to be upfront and say there’s an increased risk of infection in many U.S. destinations,” Janne told 680 CJOB.

“More importantly, anybody travelling to the U.S. then would have to formerly quarantine for 14 days upon return.

“There might be a great ticket sale to Vegas for the weekend, but then you must commit two full weeks of essentially locking up in your own home — no work, no groceries, no travel, no anything.”

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Winnipeg’s airport says it’s ready for COVID-19 travel restrictions to lift
Winnipeg’s airport says it’s ready for COVID-19 travel restrictions to lift

The Winnipeg Airport Authority’s Tyler McAfee said that travelling to other countries means a bit more pre-trip research these days.

“Every country is a little bit different,” McAfee told 680 CJOB.

“The European Union has opened up some areas, prioritized different countries… so it’s constantly changing those destinations where you can go.

“Anyone who’s thinking about travelling should really take some time to look at that and see which countries are open, where those safe places to go are.”

McAfee said many would-be travellers are concerned about the details of a COVID-era flight and how different it may look from the type of air travel they’re familiar with. To answer those questions, the airport has put together an online resource for passengers.

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One major difference is that whether you’re a passenger or picking up/dropping off someone at the airport, all visitors to the terminal at James Richardson International Airport are required to wear masks.

“Anyone who was traveling before was going have that with them — they were going to need that to get through secuirity and board an aircraft,” said McAfee.

“The change now is they’re going to have to put that on when they enter the terminal.

“We haven’t had any real negative feedback. I think people understand that the reason behind it is to protect not only the people who are travelling, but also the people who work at the airport, so we’ve had support for it.”

Masks now mandatory at Winnipeg airport
Masks now mandatory at Winnipeg airport

 

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