Some airports look pretty different now that international travellers are back!👇
Canada's travel rules have changed a lot over the past year and there are several things the country's major airports want you to know before you take to the skies once again.
In addition to longer wait times, capacity limits and COVID-19 public health requirements, travellers should expect delays both on and off the plane.
Before you book your ticket and pack your bags, consider these tips from Toronto Pearson, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Vancouver International Airport, and others, so that you're not surprised when you arrive to check in.
Be aware of capacity limits
A statement from Toronto Pearson sent to Narcity says that capacity limits are currently in place in the airport, which means some passengers may be required to wait on their flight after it has landed.
"If too many planes arrive at the same time or arrive unexpectedly (sometimes flights arrive early, are delayed or are diverted from other airports), this may require the pilot to hold at the gate with passengers on board so that there are not too many people in the customs hall at the same time," the statement explains.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of travellers currently allowed in custom halls is "significantly lower." In some cases, travellers may be asked to wait at departure gates or in arrivals corridors until their turn in the customs hall.
Prepare for increased public health measures
Airports like Winnipeg International have warned that wait times may be longer than before due to additional COVID-19 health measures.
A notice reads, "Give yourself plenty of time at the airport before your flight as some health measures may take longer to carry out." This may include processes like verifying COVID-19 test results, checking travellers' vaccination status and cleaning busy spaces.
It's a message backed up by Vancouver International Airport, which says it's "asking you to be patient as you travel through the airport as the experience here at YVR will be different."
Winnipeg Airport told visitors that it "may look and feel a little different since you last visited" but said it's prioritizing "the health and safety of travellers, visitors and staff above all else."
As of September 7, fully vaccinated international travellers are permitted to enter Canada for non-essential purposes.
This means airports may be busier and delays are more likely to occur.
Air Canada suggests arriving an hour and a half before your flight if you're taking a domestic trip and two hours before your flight if you're heading to the United States.
Toronto Pearson urges those flying abroad to arrive at least three hours in advance in anticipation of longer lines and unexpected holdups.
Luggage buildup is possible
Because customs processing times are currently longer than usual, Toronto Pearson warns that a buildup of unclaimed luggage is possible.
This means a passenger's luggage can be taken off the carousels and moved elsewhere so that other baggage can be unloaded.
"When this happens, the bags are removed from the carousels and organized proactively so that when passenger[s] complete the customs process, they are able to collect their bags while other flights are unloaded onto the carousel," a statement from the airport explains.
Wear a mask
Vancouver International Airport is reminding Canadians that face coverings continue to be mandatory both inside the airport and on the flight itself. While masks can be removed to eat or drink in designated areas, they must otherwise be worn at all times.
Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport provides a detailed explanation of what kind of face covering is accepted.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.