Got a flight and heard of long delays? Here’s what you need to know

Let’s face it. Air travel has been an exercise in patience for most of the past two decades.

And now, with many COVID-19 related restrictions lifted after two years of very little domestic or international travel, some of Canada’s major airports – including Vancouver International and Toronto Pearson – have seen an increase in travelers and, therefore, longer than normal. waiting time to go through security.

Part of the problem is a shortage of security guards, according to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the agency responsible for screening passengers and their baggage.

“Screening resources are scheduled based on air traffic. Prior to the pandemic, resources could be used more efficiently between cross-border and domestic and international checkpoints due to staggered passenger peaks,” said Suzanne Perseo, gatekeeper. word of CATSA, by e-mail. .

“As air travel resumes, we are seeing simultaneous spikes, which can result in more than one security checkpoint being flooded by passengers at once, making it more difficult to redistribute resources to cope. to these passenger volumes.”

The union representing CATSA workers told CBC News the agency is struggling to retain its employees. “It’s low pay and tough working conditions,” said Dave Flowers, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 140.

The Minister of Transport says the government is providing resources to increase staff, but the lines are going to be long for a while.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to resolve this immediately,” Omar Alghabra said on Monday. “We’re directing resources as quickly as possible. It’s going to take a while to ramp up.”

Here are some tips to make your air travel easier:

How early must I be at the airport ?

At present, travelers are advised to arrive at the airport at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before international flights.

CATSA provides current wait times for airports in 14 Canadian cities on its website.

Cindy Horton, an independent travel agent with The Travel Group in Vancouver who has worked in the industry for 40 years, says it’s hard to pinpoint a single factor behind the delays.

“I actually think it’s a combination of things,” she said. “Normally you just go to the check-in counter, you’ll be directed to security and you’re off. But now because things are slow, they’re redirecting people, the signage is confusing, people are getting the wrong line, wasting more time there, missing flights, so there are a number of different factors.

His advice: be early and be prepared.

“Make sure you have your check-in procedure done and your boarding pass in hand,” she said. “Anything that can be done in advance will only get things done. Where [travellers] getting in trouble is when people haven’t, and so somebody comes in and they don’t have the papers and then everybody kind of gets pushed back from there.”

What can you do in advance?

Update your ArriveCAN app. It was amended on April 25 to reflect the updated rules.

Upload your required information to the app before arriving at the airport, within 72 hours of your trip. If you don’t have a smartphone, print your ArriveCAN receipt and bring it with you.

Check in online if you can and have your boarding pass ready on your phone or printed out and in hand.

Travel agent Cindy Horton advises people to come prepared, arrive at the airport with boarding pass in hand and proof of vaccination uploaded to the government app. (Colleen Wood)

What are the current COVID-19 requirements?

Whether traveling within Canada or internationally, all travelers 12 years of age and older must present proof of vaccination to board an aircraft in Canada.

“Vaccinated” is defined as having at least two injections of a licensed vaccineand have received your second dose at least 14 days before your trip.

The government provides a brief checklist to know if you are ready to fly. In addition to the vaccination requirement above, you must:

  • Be prepared at all times during your trip to show your official proof of vaccination. If you don’t know what constitutes official proof, you can find out here. Each province and territory has its own proof of vaccination.
  • Have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Follow public health advice, such as wearing a mask.

Even if you are traveling from or to a small airport, you may need to present proof that you have been vaccinated. If you are unsure, the government provides a list of airports where you will need to present proof of vaccination.

WATCH | Minister of Transport on these long airport lines:

Airport delays will last ‘weeks’: transport minister

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said it could be several weeks before long security lines start to loosen at some of Canada’s busiest airports. 4:39

How about traveling to Canada?

Whether you are coming to Canada as a visitor or returning home by air (or land or sea, for that matter), you will need to provide your proof of vaccination using the ArriveCAN app or by online registration within 72 hours of your arrival in Canada.

If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test.

As of April 25, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children under 12 are also no longer required to provide a valid COVID-19 test result prior to entry, as long as they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.

Travelers arrive at Trudeau Airport in Montreal on April 20. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

“I know it’s frustrating,” Alghabra said. “The travel measures we had in place over the past two years to protect their health and safety have reduced travel. Now people understandably want to travel again.”

Horton says it’s about managing his customers’ expectations.

“Let them know that it’s not going to go smoothly, that there’s a chance they’ll miss their flight, and [walking] throughout the process so that they are truly prepared. And then if they decide to book the trip, they’re usually fine with that.”

WATCH | Left stranded by long queues:

Vancouver airport security checks leave travelers facing long lines

Passengers on flights departing from Vancouver International Airport are urged to arrive hours before their scheduled flight as security checks have caused delays. 2:16

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