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Kelowna airport urges travellers to consult rules as vaccination policy comes into effect

Click to play video: 'Kelowna passengers react to proof of vaccination requirement for air travel' Kelowna passengers react to proof of vaccination requirement for air travel
WATCH: As of Tuesday, air travellers across Canada are required to have proof of full vaccination, with limited exceptions. Reporter Megan Turcato visited YLW to find out how Kelowna passengers are reacting to the new requirement and what those planning to travel this holiday season should know. – Nov 30, 2021

As of Tuesday, air travellers 12 and over across Canada are required to have proof of full vaccination, with limited exceptions.

In light of that, Kelowna International Airport is encouraging travellers to read up on what’s required.

“Most people that are travelling are well aware of the vaccine mandate. We do see from time to time some people still showing up that don’t really understand what is required to travel,” said Phillip Elchitz, senior manager of airport operations.

Read more: Canada Post employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate disrupts small town parcel service

“We really encourage people to go to the Kelowna airport website to get the latest information on what they need to travel or to check with their airline.”

Over the past month, the federal government phased in the vaccine requirement for travellers. People who weren’t fully vaccinated could still fly with a recent negative test, but as of Tuesday, official proof of vaccination is now required for most.

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“Right now for travel, the airlines and Transport Canada are still accepting the provincial vaccine card but that will be changing pretty quickly, so we really encourage people to go out and get the pan-Canadian one or to speak to their airline to make sure that they are fully aware of what the airline will accept for travel,” said Elchitz.

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In B.C., that federal proof of vaccination document can be accessed online.

The vaccine requirement is coming into effect just ahead of the busy holiday season.

But travel crowds at Kelowna International Airport aren’t expected to be the same as pre-pandemic.

“Pre-COVID, around Christmas time we were seeing 7,000 to 8,000 passengers in a day. That was our largest day. This year we are expecting 5,000 to 6,000 so still significantly below pre-COVID levels for the holidays,” Elchitz.

Read more: Kelowna transit service hit by labour shortages

Travellers are still encouraged to show up early (90 minutes for domestic flights and two hours for international) and educate themselves on what pandemic travel requirements are now in place.

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