Most travel restrictions on vaccines in Canada ended Monday after a chaotic weekend of cancellations and delays for some travellers.
This comes as travel demand increases ahead of the busy summer season.
“I was vaccinated specifically to be free to travel, so I’m glad to see it’s lifted,” said Jennifer Walter, a resident of Comox, British Columbia.
Walter and her husband recently traveled to Winnipeg for work before flying to Toronto. They have traveled extensively over the spring and are no strangers to the frustration felt by passengers on planes and airports across the country.
“I find most of the flights I’ve been on have been delayed, which is interesting,” Walter said.
The federal government has lifted its requirements for proof of vaccination for people boarding planes and trains in Canada. It maintains 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 move is welcomed by some travellers, experts said the measure alone is unlikely to make much difference when it comes to delays and cancellations.
“A few people have to take the little piece of paper out of their backpacks to show it at the check-in counter, but usually that hasn’t been the big deal,” travel expert Jim Byers told CTV News. “The big problem has been the security queues. The big problem was going through customs on the US side when you leave Canada and the biggest problem is when you arrive and it does nothing to solve that problem.
WestJet said in an email to CTV News Winnipeg that one of its flights this weekend from Toronto to Winnipeg was canceled for maintenance and that a cancellation from New York to Toronto was crew-related.
“The cancellations seen across our network on Sunday were the result of several factors, including ground operations at Toronto Pearson, limited crew availability and unscheduled maintenance that significantly disrupted our operations,” the airline continued.
WestJet said crews are working to get travelers on alternate flights. However, the company said these options were limited and in some cases not available within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Air Canada said a flight from Regina to Toronto was canceled due to high winds in Toronto. He said in other cases, operations have been disrupted by customs and security, baggage system issues and air traffic control issues.
“It’s important to understand that airlines rely on a number of third-party providers to keep their operations running smoothly,” Air Canada said. “When one (or more) link(s) in this chain is not working efficiently or encounters problems, the impact can be immediately felt across the entire air transport ecosystem.”
But it’s not just Canada, thousands of flights were canceled or delayed in the United States over the weekend.
Walter hopes things will improve, but knows it might take time.
“Just stay tuned and watch what’s going on with your flight,” she said.
Air Canada said factors such as extreme weather only add to the challenges airlines face.
The company said that when disruptions occur, they can disrupt work schedules and, in some cases, push aircrew beyond regulated duty days, rendering them unavailable for work.
For its part, WestJet said that if the cause of a delay of more than three hours or a cancellation is beyond its control, a new flight will be provided at no additional cost.
You may be eligible for compensation if the cause is found to be within WestJet’s control.