Essential tips for essential travel

Airplane seats waiting and ready for boarding

Not everyone is ready to get back in the air, but many people still have trips they need to take. Travel is slowly increasing with essential travel leading the way. If you’re in that boat (or plane, actually) there are some things you should know before you go, i.e. essential tips for essential travel.

Most importantly, you should know that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has instituted several measures to ensure your security screening experience is as safe and secure as possible.

Wear A Face Covering

People travelling by plane from and within Canada need to bring their face covering. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth, be made of at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric (such as cotton or linen) and secured to the head. (Check out Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines, including instructions on how to make your mask.)

Use Hand Sanitizer When Out and About

At major airports, hand sanitizing units have been placed by the checkpoints to be used by the public. You can also have one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 355 mL in your carry-on – that is in addition to the 100 mL bottles that fall under the usual liquids’ restrictions. Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.

Screening Checkpoint at Security

Temperature screening at an airport in Canada

If you’re flying out of one of Canada’s 15 busiest airports, you’ll have your temperature checked when you arrive at the screening checkpoint. You will not be permitted to proceed through screening if your temperature, after two separate tests, is at or above 38⁰C. Note that if you exhibit symptoms of illness such as a cough or difficulty breathing, you will be required to leave the checkpoint.

While in the queue and the screening checkpoint, you must keep two metres between yourself and other passengers. Hold on to your own electronic or printed boarding pass or other documents of entitlement while they are scanned.

Travel Safely

Travel myths abound but the facts are the facts. Aviation is an essential service, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to go, and CATSA has taken every step possible to ensure this happens safely. You can go to their website for more information, or you can download their app for Android or iOS.

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8 common travel myths that are wrong

A man with a backpack ready to travel
Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

In 2020, the COVID-19 virus became a part of our reality that we must contend with. False information about the coronavirus is spreading even faster than the virus itself. Every day, new myths are born and spread online in the blink of an eye – amongst them you will find plenty of common travel myths. With the right precaution measures, life must continue, as well as economic growth, so join us as we debunk some of these urban legends.

Time to move forward with our lives and our habits

The travel industry, much like every other industry, will persevere, though it too will need to adapt. With this article of 8 common travel myths, we will help you recognize false information about the virus. We’ll give you the knowledge you need to feel comfortable traveling again, safely, both for business and pleasure. 

Myth #1: If you’re traveling during this pandemic, you’re almost guaranteed to “catch” the virus

Fact: As long as you’re acting responsibly, taking the necessary precautions, and following the official instructions of the place(s) you’re in – your chances of catching the virus are minimal. The risk will of course always be there, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce the chances greatly.

Myth #2: All tourist attractions are closed due to the pandemic

Fact: In many cases, quite the opposite is true. With many people choosing to avoid traveling altogether, some of the places which are typically packed are now inviting visitors to explore them free from the usual crowd and noise. Neat discounts can be found too.

Myth #3: When traveling, wear a mask only indoors

Fact: You should wear your mask outdoors if you are visiting crowded places, parks, and public gatherings. You will protect others that way in case that you unknowingly have the virus, and vice-versa.

Hands holding a mask on a globe
Travel safely – wear your face mask to protect yourself and others

Myth #4: The COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates or extremely cold climates

Fact: There is no scientific evidence yet to support that claim. While some viruses (like the flu) have their “seasons” depending on the climate, many others are not so easily affected by external temperature. What we do know so far is that Covid-19 has spread to nearly all countries in the world, regardless of their environment. Don’t count on the weather keeping you safe – keep yourself safe instead. 

Myth #5: Airports and airplanes are dangerous, and the risk of infection there is high

This is among the most common travel myths, yet also happens to be among the least true. Every airline company and every airport in the world is constantly working on improving safety measures to protect their employees as well as every single passenger.

Fact 1: Due to the circulation and advanced air filtration systems on airplanes, the risk for virus transmission is very low. Did you know there is a complete changeover of air every two to three minutes in an airplane? Of course, you still must take care of hand hygiene and respect all protocols.  

An airport waiting area
All airports are employing physical distancing measures

Fact 2: Airports have UV cleaning technology, enhanced sanitization, physical distancing measures, and many contactless solutions for all needed procedures. Airport staff will take your temperature and hand sanitizers will be available everywhere around you. Onboard announcements will remind you of the necessary protocols.

Myth #6: Travel insurance will not cover medical expenses in case you get infected in a foreign country. It will cost you a lot,  better not to travel at all.

Fact: Most major insurance companies are updating their travel insurance policies to cover a part or all of the costs if you get infected abroad. Ask your insurance provider to explain your rights and responsibilities regarding travel insurance during this time. The most important thing (now more than ever) is to keep yourself healthy, physically as well as mentallyDon’t neglect your physical shape – exercise, and spend time outside in fresh air.

Myth #7: When traveling, restaurants and street food should be avoided – you should prepare your own food

Fact: Hygiene measures are always important wherever and however you choose to eat. If you enjoy preparing your own food even while traveling – go for it! But if you’re only doing it to avoid restaurants out of fear, think again. Restaurants and fast food joints have tons of rules and protocols they need to follow, especially now – they’d be out of business otherwise. Common logic still applies, so before ordering a meal or grabbing some street food, make sure the place looks clean and maintained and that all precautions are taken.

Myth #8: Travel will never be the same, coronavirus will destroy tourism industries

Fact: Freedom to travel is a crucial part and a key driver in the international post-pandemic recovery. Tourism will survive. Firstly, for economic reasons and secondly because of the unique joy of travel itself. There are numerous innovations and automation in travel procedures which are making travel easier, safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable.

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is enormous, but every possible step is taken so that you can travel again while staying safe and protected.

Airline companies are now giving more affordable rates and more flexible fares than ever, to encourage people to travel again. They will offer you more flight change possibilities than before (even for free). Along with that, they offer refund possibilities if your plans change due to the impact of the virus, as well as vouchers for next travels. Even bus and train tickets are now offered with many flexible solutions – so don’t hesitate to explore the conditions, and do not be afraid to ask for your rights before buying them.

After debunking common travel myths- pack your bags and go, the world awaits you 

With all this in mind, traveling now may feel safer than going to your local food store or partaking in any other daily activity. The air in a plane is probably cleaner than the one circulating in your office. Airplanes are usually cleaner than our own living space, as they are constantly and thoroughly cleaned with enhanced solutions – even before COVID-19.

If you’re still wondering whether it is the right time to travel again, remember this: the desire to travel is in our DNA and that can never change! Tourism can’t be stopped. Travel can’t be stopped. You, dear reader – can’t be stopped.

Signpost on the road
Traveling will help you relax and reduce stress

As the world opens for you again, you will also be more open to the world! Traveling will help you relax, reduce stress, make unforgettable memories, have fun, see and do something new, strengthen relationships, learn more, grow, and eventually improve your life. So don’t be afraid to get out there!

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World

This Post Was Originally Published on the Plus Travel Group Blog on August 4, 2020 by Mark Crone

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World is different. Nothing seems normal in a pandemic and travel is no exception. As the economy reopens and we all move forward, it’s time to travel again. Business needs to travel for a variety of reasons including company growth, customer visits, internal company meetings, etc. I flew with Air Canada from Toronto to Montreal on July 16, 2020. Here is what a business trip looks like right now:

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World – Toronto Pearson Airport

Boarding the plane in a Covid -19 world

There are more people travelling than you might think. On the day I flew, there were 15,000 passengers moving through Toronto Pearson. Airport parking was busy with 2 floors full and several other floors with minimal space. As you walk into the terminal, you will need your mask on. You’ll also be stopped by security to confirm that you are a traveller (only travellers are allowed into the airport). The terminal does not look busy, but travel activity is growing week by week. Toronto Pearson has initiated a “Healthy Airport” program in response to COVID-19. This includes anti-bacterial fogging, UV cleaning technology, enhanced sanitization, and physical distancing measures. As you make your way to check-in, you will notice these measures throughout the terminal.

Check-in and Security

Air Canada Touch Free Check-In Kiosk

Advanced check-in is now more important than ever. If your flight is busy (70% or more), and you prefer to travel on a different flight, you will have an option to change to another flight operating within three days or to the next available flight without additional fees. Touch-free check-in at select airports includes seamless TouchFree Bag Check service. During mobile check-in, select the number of checked bags, print your bag tags from dedicated kiosks, and then drop off your bags at the TouchFree Bag Drop.

You’ll see physical distancing measures in place as you line up for security, with decals every two metres on the floor. As you walk up to security, your temperature will be taken by airport personnel. You now scan your own boarding pass at security and proceed through inspection. Hand sanitization stations are available at security screening and throughout the airport.

Airport Lounges and Pre-Flight

Social Distancing  seats near a gate at Toronto Pearson Airport

If you have access to an Air Canada airport lounge, you’ll be happy to know that they have re-opened. Seating has been readjusted to provide social distancing. Food comes in a snack box and drinks are handed to you by an attendant. There are also washroom attendants. As you make your way to your departure gate, some restaurants are open and seating at the gate has been adjusted with social distancing. There are more people travelling than you would expect but there is still plenty of room for physical distancing throughout the terminal.

Boarding and On the Plane

Selfie of the Author wearing a mask while flying on the plane

The number of boarding zones has increased (8 for my flight). There are fewer travellers in each zone with boarding by window then aisle and from back to front of the plane. At boarding, you’ll show your ID and boarding pass. But you’ll be asked to pull back your mask so that the agent can see your face vs. the picture on your ID. As you board the plane, you’ll be handed the Clean Care Kit (if you are flying Air Canada). The Kit includes a mask, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, a headset, and a snack. Seating is spaced out as much as possible. Given current travel activity, it would be odd to have someone beside you. Announcements on board will always remind you of COVID protocols including wearing your mask over your mouth and nose (unless eating or drinking).

Air Canada Clean Care Kit

At Montreal Airport

There are 3 security entrance points at Montreal Airport. As you enter, you will be required to sanitize your hands and have your temperature taken by infrared thermometer. Virtually every airport, including Montreal, follows updated COVID specific health and safety protocols. You are encouraged to use mobile check-in; you must wear a face mask; physical distancing measures are in place; and enhanced sanitization processes are ongoing.

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World – Summary

With the many biosafety protocols and procedures in place for travel, it quite frankly feels safer to travel than to buy groceries. It felt great to travel again as it seemed to for everyone else on the plane. The travel industry has spent considerable time and effort in developing new procedures to build trust and confidence- and it works! It really is time to travel. And business travel needs to happen to facilitate economic growth. Updated travel guidelines and procedures are the new norm and we are all ready for takeoff!

Flying on an airplane

Feel free to reach out for more information and to inquire about an updated travel program with Plus Travel Group. 

Check out my previous post for more information – Is it the right time to travel again?