Summer air travel: What to expect as pandemic restrictions loosen
Here are 3 things you can expect for summer air travel as pandemic restrictions loosen.
Vaccinated American travelers will get the green light to cross Canada’s borders on Monday, but the process won’t be as simple as it was before the pandemic.
The country has implemented new health measures to keep the coronavirus at bay, such as asking visitors to provide additional documentation – including proof of vaccination and a coronavirus test – before crossing the land border. Air travelers also need to submit information, including coronavirus test results, before boarding a plane to Canada. Falsifying information could result in hefty fines.
Travelers can also expect longer wait times, thanks to the new public health measures.
Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents will be permitted to enter Canada for nonessential travel starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. ETD. White House officials have yet to say when the U.S. will reciprocate and ease its own travel restrictions against its Canadian neighbors.
For Americans planning to take a trip up north soon, here are 11 things to know.
Canada border crossing requirements: Travelers will need to be fully vaccinated
American travelers wanting to visit Canada by land, air or water must complete a COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days before entry. The government of Canada accepts the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines.
Cruises are not permitted to enter Canadian waters, but the country’s ban on cruise ships with more than 100 passengers is set to end Nov. 1.
Everyone needs to get a negative coronavirus test
All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, will need to show proof of a coronavirus molecular test – such as a PCR test – to enter. Fully vaccinated travelers will not need to take a post-arrival test unless they are randomly selected to do so.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website has a list of community-based testing sites for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests travelers contact their health care provider or visit their local health department’s website to find the latest information on testing since the type of COVID-19 tests offered can differ by location.
Bring COVID-19 vaccine card, documentation
Travelers must show proof of vaccination in either English, French or a certified translation.
Airlines will verify passengers’ vaccination status through the ArriveCAN app or website before passengers board their flights. Those driving across the border must use ArriveCAN before departing. Information must be submitted within 72 hours before arrival.
Travelers are advised to carry their vaccine documentation to show officials at border entry points and should keep their test results and a list of close contacts and locations visited on hand.
Travelers without documentation will be denied boarding, and those who try to cross land borders without the proper documents will be sent back to the United States.
Travelers who try to falsify their documentation could be fined or denied entry to the country at a future date, according to Denis Vinette, vice president of the CBSA travelers branch. Two travelers who tried to enter Canada last month were fined nearly $20,000 Canadian dollars, or nearly $16,000, after providing false information related to proof of vaccination.
“We’ve seen quite a few instances with individuals who’ve attempted to make use of fraudulent documents,” Vinette said. “It’s just not worth it.
►Canada border reopens: Canada border opens to vaccinated US citizens Aug. 9: Everything you need to know
Check for any COVID-19 symptoms, and be prepared to quarantine
Fully vaccinated travelers won’t need to quarantine upon arrival, but visitors with COVID-19 symptoms will need to self-isolate. All visitors must provide a quarantine plan.
You can expect longer wait times
The CBSA is expecting increased processing times for border crossings come Monday due to enhanced public health measures.
“The CBSA will not compromise the health and safety of Canadians for the sake of border wait times,” spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy told USA TODAY via email Tuesday.
Vinetteof the CBSA said the agency expects a 10% to 25% increase in vehicles trying to cross the border once restrictions ease Monday, which would be just 20% or so of pre-pandemic levels.
“We asked travelers to be patient but also to arrive prepared and knowledgeable of the requirements at the border,” Vinette told USA TODAY. “It’ll help increase passage and throughput and make the experience much more positive.”
The agency’s website offers estimated border wait times at select land ports.
Dan Weingarten, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, added that the department will work to process traffic “as expeditiously as possible” through the state’s toll plazas and border bridges.
“We anticipate any delays would be at the U.S. or Canadian customs checkpoints, which are not under our control,” Weingarten said.
While a CBSA employee strike threatened to further increase wait times for travelers crossing the border, strike actions were called off late Friday after labor unions reached a tentative agreement with the CBSA.
Children, others who are exempted can enter Canada
Children under the age of 12 and unvaccinated dependent children will be allowed to enter the country with a fully vaccinated parent, stepparent, tutor or guardian who is eligible to enter Canada.
People with health conditions that prevent them from becoming fully vaccinated can qualify for eased quarantine and testing requirements but must follow a modified quarantine.
You may run into other COVID-19 travel restrictions
Travelers will be required to follow public health measures, including monitoring for signs of COVID-19 and keeping a copy of vaccine documentation and test results 14 days after entry.
Travelers entering by air will need to wear a mask in Canadian airports and on flights to and from the country, regardless of vaccination status.
Some provinces impose other restrictions. Newfoundland and Labrador require a travel form to enter. Ontario has capacity limits on organized public events, retail spaces, museums, casinos, theaters and more.
The country’s national parks are open and welcome visitors, but access to facilities and services may be limited.
►Mask rules, open venues and more: What you need to know about summer travel in Europe
Airlines add flights to Canada
Airlines are adding flights to Canada to accommodate the anticipated uptick of air travel demand.
Air Canada announced a summer trans-border schedule with up to 220 daily flights between the USA and Canada starting Monday. The initial schedule will include 55 routes and 34 U.S. destinations, but the airline plans to restore service to all 57 U.S. destinations previously served “as conditions allow,” according to the airline.
United, which flies to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, said it would add flights to Toronto and Vancouver in September.
American Airlines services four airports in Canada – Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver – and is set to resume operations in Halifax, Quebec and Ottawa in the spring of 2022, according to a statement in June.
Pricing from flight search tool Skyscanner on Fridayshowed airfares for August trips from the USA to Canada start at $329 for Vancouver, $359 for Toronto and $356 for Calgary.
Effective Monday, international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at nine Canadian airports:
- Montréal-Trudeau International Airport
- Toronto Pearson International Airport
- Calgary International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport
- Halifax Stanfield International Airport
- Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
- Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
- Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
- Edmonton International Airport
►Or there’s Hawaii: 4 tips to make the most of your Maui vacation as more travelers head to Hawaii
Canada hotel room rates are low – but prices are rising
In June, the average daily room rate – or ADR – across Canada’s hotels was $125.05 in Canadian dollars (U.S. $99.61), down 31% compared with 2019, according to hotel analytics company STR.
Hotel room prices should rebound when border restrictions ease; STR expects ADR to hit $116.22 by the end of September, according to a June statement. The firm expects smaller cities and resorts to lead the recovery.
“International demand plays an incredibly important role in the recovery process, and we expect a jump in hotel leisure and corporate demand once the U.S./Canada land border reopens,” the news release read.
The majority of eligible Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19
Canada’s vaccine rollout had a slower start, but the country has surpassed U.S. vaccination rates.
More than 71% of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 60% were fully vaccinated as of July 31. In the U.S., 58% of the population was partially vaccinated and 50% was fully vaccinated as of Friday.
US extends Canada border closure
The United States extended border restrictions on nonessential travel last month, keeping its borders with Canada and Mexico closed through at least Aug. 21. The restrictions to entry affect land and ferry travel.
The move is meant to help the country decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the highly contagious delta variant.
International travelers who plan to return to the U.S. by air will need to get tested no more than three days before travel and show a negative test result or documentation of recovery to the airline before boarding, according to the CDC. This policy does not apply to land border crossings.
►COVID-19 travel: The delta variant is spreading. Should travelers be concerned?
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.