Summer is officially underway in Canada, and many are looking forward to enjoying it on trips here at home or abroad.
COVID-19 rules are easing in Canada, potentially making travel more attractive for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020. However, the rush to travel has led to severe delays at airports and passport offices across the country. world.
Ottawa is working with the travel industry to correct these delays, which were also felt at airports in other countries amid labor shortages. But in the meantime, here are some tips to keep in mind when traveling this summer.
Peak summer travel season approaching
After the federal government announced it was pausing vaccine travel mandates on June 14, searches for domestic flights in Canada increased 34% for travel starting June 20 compared with the previous week, according to data from the agency. Kayak travel online.
Canadians’ general travel interest over the past two weeks has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and Kayak is seeing a 108% increase in searches for domestic flights compared to 2019. We will.
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The peak summer travel season is upon us, said Richard Vanderlubbe, president of tripcentral.ca.
Typically, the summer travel season in Canada heats up in late June and goes through Labor Day before it starts to fall, he said.
“There was a period when nobody was booking anything. The restrictions relaxed and suddenly everyone came out of the woodwork,” Vanderlubbe said.
“We are dealing with the transition from a stop, or a trickle, to a lot of leisure demand (travel).”
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High demand and labor shortages have combined to serious delays at airports and passport offices in Canada as its travel industry begins to restart after a two-year hibernation due to the pandemic.
Among the steps Ottawa is taking to help alleviate the problem are hiring more screening officers to help alleviate demand at airports, and increasing the number of employees in Service Canada offices to speed up passport processing.
It also paused random COVID-19 testing at airports until June 30 and will move them off-site starting on Canada Day. Service Canada has created a new renewal process for adult passports issued within the last 15 years to reduce waiting times.
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Canada’s four largest airports, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, are gearing up for a 50% increase in passenger numbers ahead of peak travel season.
As of June 1, these hubs were processing an average of 56,000 passengers arriving from overseas each day, with more than half of them in Toronto Pearson, where scenes of frustration from travelers took place throughout the spring. The number will hit 80,000 within weeks, according to the Canadian Airports Council.
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The government says that waiting times at airports are starting to decrease, saying on monday that about 91% of Pearson’s passengers were examined within 15 minutes. At Vancouver International Airport, 84% of passengers were screened within that time frame.
During the week of May 9-15, an average of 23% of departing travelers waited more than 15 minutes to be processed at Pearson, while 26% waited to be approved at Vancouver International Airport, the government said June 15.
As officials work to alleviate these delays, Canadians need to keep a few things in mind during the summer travel season, experts say.
What to consider when planning your trip
“Calm your patience,” said Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
The first thing Canadians should do when planning their travels is see when their passports expire, she said. If it’s coming, they should start the renewal process soon to avoid getting caught up in a last-minute rush.
Second, Canadians should familiarize themselves with other nations’ entry requirements if they are traveling abroad, especially as COVID-19 rules are still in effect in some nations, Vanderlubbe said.
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Travelers should also look into insurance options should their flight be cancelled, Potter said, adding that if that happens, they should contact their air carrier as soon as possible to try to arrange a different flight or alternative route of travel.
“In this day and age, when so many different things can affect your trip, having a good travel insurance policy is a good idea,” Potter said.
In this current situation, travelers need to be well prepared, Vanderlubbe said.
“If you go in with that mindset, with enough time prepared, it’s not as bad as an experience, like if you go in short on time, under stress and starting to have bad results, like missing your flight or what have you,” he says. said.
“Unfortunately, that’s how it is now.”
How to deal with airport delays
Scenes of travelers waiting in long lines at Canadian airports have been happening across the country since the spring.
To avoid this, it’s essential to arrive more than a few hours before departure time armed with knowledge of what you need to check in, Vanderlubbe said.
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Canadians should know what the baggage restrictions are to avoid delays, how to understand weight limits and what can’t go in carry-on baggage.
“But since people haven’t traveled for a long time, they forget a lot about it or don’t know if they don’t travel often. So we’re seeing big delays in security,” he said.
“It’s no longer just two hours before (arriving at the airport), it’s three hours or more with the correct paperwork and a lot of patience to go through the process.”
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the federal government have a list of resources to guide travelers through the process, including what you need to know before heading to the airport, as well as safety and security once you are there.
For example, containers for liquids, aerosols or gels in carry-on bags must be 100 milliliters or less. All containers must fit in a transparent, closed plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 liter.
While airport delays are occurring in Canada, it is a problem to be seen in other parts of the world.
Long lines have plagued airports in Europe due to manpower shortages. To help with the problem, Dublin and Heathrow airports are recruiting monitors, while Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is raising staff salaries.
Spanish authorities announced earlier this month that they had hired an additional 500 police officers to check passports at busy airports and tourist destinations, including Madrid.
In Portugal, where passengers waited more than three hours on arrival at Libson airport on June 12, the government plans to hire 238 new border control agents at the country’s six airports by July 4, bringing the total number to 529.
“When you’re in the security line, know that you need to take out your computer and any other electronic devices… Make sure you understand all the rules so you can get through this process as quickly as possible,” Potter said.
“We’re all challenged right now with a labor shortage, and we’re all trying to get up to speed again. The people who showed up at work today are the ones who are here, so please treat them kindly and we will all get through this together.”
— with files from Canadian Press and Reuters
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