Most of Canada’s vaccine travel restrictions ended Monday following a chaotic weekend of cancellations and delays for some travelers.
It comes as the demand for travel surges ahead of the busy summer season.
“I was specially vaccinated so that I would be free to travel so I’m happy to see it lifted,” said Jennifer Walter, a resident of Comox, BC
Walter and her husband recently flew to Winnipeg for work before boarding a plane to Toronto. They’ve traveled a lot over the spring and are no strangers to some of the frustration being felt by people on planes and at airports across the country.
“I do find most of the flights I have been on have been delayed which is interesting,” Walter said.
The federal government has lifted its proof of vaccination requirements for people boarding planes and trains within Canada. It’s keeping vaccine requirements for foreign nationals entering the country and quarantines and testing will still be required for unvaccinated Canadians returning home from international travel.
While the experts move is welcomed by some travelers, said the measure alone is unlikely to make much of a difference when it comes to delays and cancellations.
“A few people have to get the little piece of paper out of their knapsack to show at the check-in counter but generally this has not been the big issue,” Jim Byers, a travel expert, told CTV News. “The big issue has been security lineups. The big issue has been going through customs on the US side when you’re departing Canada and the biggest problem is when you’re arriving and this doesn’t do anything to do address that.”
WestJet said in an email to CTV News Winnipeg one of its flights this weekend from Toronto to Winnipeg was canceled for maintenance and a cancellation from New York to Toronto was related to the crew.
“The cancellations seen across our network on Sunday were as a result of multiple factors including ground operations at Toronto Pearson, limited crew availability and unscheduled maintenance which significantly disrupted our operations,” the airline went on to say.
WestJet said teams worked to get travelers on other flights. However, the company said those options were limited and in some cases weren’t available within 24 hours.
Air Canada, meanwhile, said a flight from Regina to Toronto was canceled due to high winds in Toronto. It said in other cases operations have been disrupted by customs and security, baggage system issues and air traffic control challenges.
“It is important to understand that airlines rely on a number of third-party providers to ensure the smooth running of their operations,” Air Canada said. “When one (or more) links in this chain is not working efficiently or encounters issues, the impact can be immediately felt throughout the entire air transport ecosystem.”
But it’s not only Canada, thousands of flights were canceled or delayed across the US this weekend.
Walter is hopeful things will improve but knows it could take time.
“Just keep tuned in is the main thing and watch what’s going on with your flight,” she said.
Air Canada said factors such as severe weather are only adding to the challenges airlines are facing.
The company said when disruptions occur it can throw off work schedules and in some cases push aircrew beyond regulated duty days making them unavailable for work.
For its part, WestJet said if the cause of a delay of more than three hours or a cancellation is outside of its control a new flight will be provided at no additional charge.
You may be eligible for compensation if the cause is supposed to be in WestJet’s control.