Tuesday, April 7th 2020

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from airports that start with Y."

2020
24
March
COVID-19: Attempting to give the latest facts about cancelling & changing travel plans, and getting home to Canada

COVID-19 Attempting to give the latest facts about cancelling and changing travel plans

Reminder: If you've been traveling outside the country (anywhere) you should be self-isolating yourself for 14 days when you return. Our government is taking steps to help us protect ourselves, but things are about a week behind where they should be. And what we do this week will define the next 6. From what I'm hearing from travelers, our airports are not yet up to par in terms of screening, or giving out info. We'll be far better off if we do the right thing ourselves *before* things become mandatory.



topics:

canceling March/April flights
canceling May, June, or later flights
canceling Air Canada, Air Canada Vacations, Westjet, Westjet Vacations: useful links

The airline is trying to give me a credit voucher, I want a real refund!

I had a Westjet Vacations package booked for March or April, what's the deal?

I can't get a hold of the airline

I am away from Canada, should I be coming home?
      Will I be quarantined when I get to my connection city in Canada?

I am a Canadian stranded in [country] and trying to get home (read first)
      I am stranded in Central America
           I am stranded in Costa Rica
           I am stranded in Honduras
      I am stranded in Cuba
      I am stranded in Ecuador
      I am stranded in India
      I am stranded in Jamaica
      I am stranded in Mexico
      I am stranded in Morocco
      I am stranded in Peru
      I am stranded in the Philippines
      I am stranded in the United States

      Sunwing offering free flights home to all Canadians

I am a foreign national, trying to get to Canada

I'm trying to cancel with: Disney - Expedia - Airbnb - Expedia - Expedia for TD - RBC Rewards - VRBO

List of flights in and out of [city] that are confirmed to have had a COVID-19 infected passenger on board: Calgary · Edmonton · Halifax · Kelowna · Regina · Saskatoon Toronto · Vancouver · Winnipeg

Just some personal opinions

I have a trip planned for March / April - should I be cancelling?

- The Government of Canada has stated that if you're returning from outside the country, you should self-isolate yourself from society for 14 days. At this point, this isn't a legal requirement, and nobody is being forced into ' mandatory quarantine'. But it's your moral obligation to help stop the spread to those who are vulnerable. That's also 14 days without going back to work, etc. (Update Mar 25 - As of midnight tonight, it is now a mandatory quarantine, with potential legal ramifications for those who disobey).

- François-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Minister of Foreign affairs has stated that Canadians abroad are encouraged to come home now. "We recommend that Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available." Twitter: @FP_Champagne. There is *speculation* that this is a preliminary step towards reducing the number of Canadian airports that will accept flights from other countries.

March 16th - morning

Prime Minister Trudeau has announced that 'international' flights into Canada will be rerouted to 4 primary airports for dedicated enhanced screening: Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Toronto (YYZ), and Montreal (YUL). However, this re-routing does not apply to flights from the U.S., the Caribbean, or Mexico.

That last sentence is pretty important. The vast majority of our international flights outside of the 4 major airports we've selected for enhanced screening are coming from the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico. You're really only affecting routes in the following way, from West to East across our country:

Victoria (YYJ), Kelowna (YLW): Not changing anything. All international flights are coming from the Caribbean, Mexico or the U.S.

Edmonton (YEG): Flights from Amsterdam on KLM would be re-routed. All other international flights coming in right *now* are from the Caribbean, Mexico, or the U.S. Seasonal flights to Reykjavik (Icelandair) and Frankfurt (Condor) are scheduled to start in late May / June.

Saskatoon (YXE), Regina (YQR), Winnipeg (YWG), Ottawa (YOW), Thunder Bay (YQT): Not changing anything. All international flights are coming from the Caribbean, Mexico or the U.S.

Halifax (YHZ): Seasonal flights from Dublin, Glasgow and London, UK on Westjet would be re-routed, and those aren't scheduled to start until late April. All international flights coming in right *now* are from the Caribbean, Mexico, or the U.S. More seasonal flights to Munich, Frankfurt (Condor) and Manchester (Westjet) are scheduled to start in June.

St. John's (YYT): Not changing anything. All international flights are coming from the Caribbean, Mexico or the U.S.

As far as I can tell, a whopping three additional international routes across Canada would now be re-routed through an airport with enhanced screening . The one between Edmonton and Amsterdam with KLM, and a few with Westjet between Halifax and Europe.

March 16th - evening

Westjet has cancelled *all* international flights (including the U.S.) for 30 days. The final flights will be on Sunday at midnight. After that, the only inbound flights into Canada with passengers will be rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government. Westjet: options for guests affected by this. Sunwing is taking similar measures.

- Insurance is now highly unlikely to cover you while you are away. If you do end up getting sick while you're away, it could be very costly.

- It's anyone's guess as to which countries may suspend travel to/from other countries in the coming weeks. The U.S. has suspended flights from 26 countries in Europe for the next month.

March 17th - evening

- The United States and Canada are preparing to issue a joint statement that could suspend non-essential travel between the two countries in the next few days. "Part of the discussions involve what types of vehicles and individuals would still be allowed to travel between the two borders and for what purpose, the official said. The restrictions will likely allow for significant flexibility."

March 18th - afternoon

- Air Canada is going to gradually suspend the majority of it's international flights (including U.S.) by March 31st.

They will continue to operate a limited number of international 'air bridges' between one or more Canadian cities and the following cities, throughout the month of April:

London, UK
Paris, France
Frankfurt, Germany
Delhi, India
Tokyo, Japan
Hong Kong

To the U.S., the number of cities Air Canada serves is going to drop from 53 airports, down to 13, for the month of April...

New York (LGA and EWR)
Washington, DC (IAD and DCA)
Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Air Canada intends to continue to serve all provinces and territories of Canada, reducing its domestic network from 62 airports to 40 through a reduced network during the period April 1 to 30, subject to further reductions based on demand or government edict.

March 18th - afternoon

- Air Transat is going to gradually suspend the majority of it's international flights.

There will be flights operating between Lisbon and Paris to Toronto & Montreal, to help bring Canadians home, for the next few weeks.

Flights between Canada and the Caribbean, and Mexico, will operate for a few more days, to help bring Canadians home.

March 23 - morning

Air Canada has updated what their international flight schedule (other than U.S. cities) will look like for the month of April:

Montreal – Frankfurt 7 weekly 787-8
Montreal – London Heathrow 3 weekly 787-8
Montreal – Paris CDG 7 weekly A330-300
Toronto – Bridgetown 2 weekly A319
Toronto – Cancun 2 weekly 767-300ER (Air Canada rouge)
Toronto – Delhi 7 weekly 787-9 (5 weekly 20APR20 – 29APR20)
Toronto – Frankfurt 7 weekly 787-9
Toronto – London Heathrow 7 weekly 787-9
Toronto – Mexico City 4 weekly A319 (Air Canada rouge)
Vancouver – Delhi 6 weekly 787-9 (4 weekly 20APR20 – 29APR20)
Vancouver – Hong Kong 3 weekly 787-8
Vancouver – London Heathrow 4 weekly 787-9
Vancouver – Tokyo Narita 3 weekly 787-9

This does not include special repatriation flights (aka rescue flights) from various other cities.

March 26 - Canada's quarantine rules become more strict

From the CBC:

"The federal government is imposing strict, mandatory quarantine rules on travellers returning to Canada and is promising heavy fines and jail time for those who ignore the warning."

Chris's notes:

- There seems to be a bit of confusion from people about whether or not they can still connect to other flights within Canada..

This confusion on the Internet is due to Health Minister Patty Hajdu stating: "Travellers who are arriving at one of the four international airports and connecting "will be asked to quarantine in place in those cities for 14 days and we will provide the accommodation and meals for those situations."

A health official later clarified that only people with symptoms will be quarantined in the city of arrival and that travellers without symptoms can continue on and self-quarantine at their homes.

Summary:

- So if you aren't showing symptoms, you can proceed to connect to your flight within Canada, and then self-quarantine when you get home.

- If you are showing symptoms, the government will provide accomodations and meals in your connection city.

I have a trip planned for May, June, July or later - should I be cancelling my flights?

Right now, most airlines are offering full credit refunds on flights that are due to depart in March or April.

For flights that are due to depart in May or later, they are being more flexible than usual with date changes and reduced, or zero, change fees. But if you cancel now, you likely would not be compensated fully like you would be if your flights were in the 'full credit refund window' of March or April.

As time goes on, and if we're in the same situation we are now, the airlines may move the date range of the 'full credit refund window' to cover flights departing in May, June, etc. So if you wait to cancel, you may do better than if you cancel now.

A pessimist might argue that airlines may not be able to afford to keep offering full credit refunds forever. We are in unprecedented times, and it can't really be predicted one way or the other.

I can't get a hold of [airline] to cancel / change my flight

Nobody else can either. Hold times of 6+ hours plus are typical right now. The airlines are dealing with an unprecedented number of calls, although it is still probably your best option. Most of the airline's websites are not set up to properly deal with the refund / credit conditions that the airlines are offering, so it's usually best to speak to a live agent. If they offer to put you in a callback queue, do it.

If your flight isn't in the next 3 days or so, you are better off waiting to call at a later date. Help free those phone lines up for your fellow passengers that were supposed to be leaving in the next 3 days. The airlines won't be changing their flexible refund / credit policies any time soon, and it should be easier to get through down the road. Also keep in mind that it may be more beneficial to wait until closer to your day of travel to cancel. In many cases, the airlines have only been offering to rebook when your travel dates are further out, but offering full refunds when it's closer to your date of travel.

You can also try your airline's Twitter account, or Facebook messenger, which should be roughly the same as talking to agent, in terms of what they can do for you.

Some people have had success with going directly to the airport and dealing with an agent directly, although the airlines are trying to discourage this.

The airlines (and many travel websites) are currently giving customer support priority to those who have flights scheduled for departure in the next 3 days or so. If your flight isn't for a while, you're likely better off waiting to call.

Westjet cancellation

"We’ve updated our online change/cancel tool and it no longer charges a fee for eligible bookings. Cancel or change your flight online here."

Westjet has added some new links to help with cancelling your flight and vacation packages:

Westjet: If you were unable to reach us before your flight, but decided not to fly, you may be eligible for a credit

Westjet: cancellation request for situations where using Manage Trips did not work

Westjet Vacations: cancellation request for trips before April 30

Air Canada cancellation

Air Canada has a new link to help with cancelling your flights: Air Canada COVID-19 cancellation forms

If Air Canada has officially cancelled your flight, they will provide you with a credit. I've noticed that if you go to the link above, and click on 'My flight has been cancelled. What should I do?', you'll see a link to a form you can submit to have your credit refunded to your credit card.

When get to that page, click on "Refund Request", and select "Unused Ticket" as the issue and then you'll be directed to a form at conduent.com.

I'd post the link to the form here directly, but to give people peace of mind that it really is the legitimate form, I'd rather you start at the Air Canada link above. Air Canada seems to use a third party (Conduent) to process refund requests.

Mar 17th: Air Canada Vacations

Air Canada has announced that all Air Canada Vacations packages scheduled to depart in March and April have been cancelled. Affected customers will receive a full credit for future travel, valid for 24 months.

Customers do not need to contact Air Canada Vacations, or their travel agent, as these credits will be processed automatically and sent to you by email.

Tip: If you've received a credit from Air Canada for a flight that was cancelled, be sure to hang on to the 13 digit ticket number (starts with 014) they issued for your booking. This is in addition to the 6 character 'booking code' (mix of letters and numbers). It's a good idea to save both of these numbers/codes somewhere before you initiate the cancellation, I've seen some people mention they had trouble finding them after cancellation.

You should be able to find these numbers and codes in the e-mail from your original booking, and in any cancellation confirmation e-mail that Air Canada sends.

I've seen Air Canada mention that the ticket number will be required when you go to use your credit 1 or 2 years from now.

Send it to yourself in Gmail or put it somewhere you'll actually be able to easily find it, potentially many months from now.

The airline is trying to give me a credit voucher, I want a real refund!

By now you've probably heard or read about the airlines trying to get people to take a credit voucher instead of a cash refund.

The airlines are in a tough spot. They know if they issue cash refunds to everyone, they'll use up their cash reserves very quickly, and have to start taking bailout money from the government. At which point, we'll *all* be chipping in to keep them going.

People are in a tough spot. They're uncertain about their economic future in general, not just travel plans, and just want their money back.

Everyone is in a tough spot.

Right now, your best chance for a real cash refund is if the airline is the one initiating the cancellation of your flight.

If the airline is trying to give you a credit voucher when you call, you could try quoting your legal rights and insist on a full refund.

The Canadian Transport Authority just released a statement (March 26th) that makes it sound like they are definitely on board with the idea of 24 month credit vouchers being reasonable compensation. Although the CTA's opinion doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your legal rights.

If you don't get anywhere with the airline on the phone, you could try reaching out on Twitter and see if you have better luck.

If that fails, you can try initiating a chargeback with your credit card company.

If you do decide to try the chargeback route, you probably shouldn't accept the voucher credit first (although I have heard of people accepting the credit, and then getting their credit card company to issue a refund for the remainder).

Personally I feel like instead of issuing vouchers, the airlines should at least consider issuing a gift card with the full value of the flight they booked, and perhaps even a little more, as an incentive..

The gift card is something most airlines already issue, unlike vouchers, which are likely to be a bit of a headache for both sides, as the airline's websites aren't even set up to handle redeeming voucher credits yet.

Gift cards would be transferrable to others. They don't expire. You could combine them with other payment methods. They're already setup to be redeemable online. It would make people at least a bit happier, I think.

Or, with voucher credits, they could stipulate that if you keep your origin and destination the same, in addition to no change fees, you also would not have to pay a higher price when you go to rebook.

The tough part about offering that is in regards to dates, demand, and prices all being interwined when it comes to airfares.

I had a Westjet Vacations package booked for March or April, what's the deal?

Here is what I can tell you about Westjet Vacations current policy. For anyone reading this, this has nothing to do with a Westjet *Flight* cancellation and their current policies.

You should consider them to be completely separate travel products, with separate policies. The same goes for Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations. Or Sunwing and Sunwing Vacations. Or Air Transat and Transat Vacations.

Packages and Flights have different policies.

I imagine many people are getting confused, due to all the different policies of different travel products right now, and the fact that your date of travel also affects these policies.

Currently, I see people confusing the policy of Westjet flight cancellations with the Westjet Vacations cancellation policies. And confusing the policy of Air Canada flights with the policy of Air Canada Vacations, etc, etc.

If you have a vacation package that was due to depart in March or April, you should be able to get a full credit in the form of Westjet Dollars, valid for use up to 24 months.

Link: Current Westjet policies for different travel products:

^^ click on 'more information' in the 5th column

When you do that, you'll see:

For vacation packages booked prior to March 3rd for travel in March or April 2020:

- $0 one-time fee waiver for changes or cancellations
- Value of cancelled vacations will be returned in the form of WestJet Dollars

- Changes or cancellations more than 24 hours from purchase, will be returned as WestJet dollars, valid for 24 months from date of issue. We are not processing refunds to original form of payment at this time. We will update this information when it is available.

- Policy does not apply to Group bookings.

- Policy cannot be applied to packages with the following hotels: Disney, Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts, Grand Pineapple Resorts and Playa Resorts.

There is a specific form that Westjet Vacations is asking people to use to submit cancellation requests.

Do the Westjet Dollars need to be used all at once on a single trip?

Chris: This is my personal take. Not published policy, so take it for what it's worth.

Just based on how Westjet Dollars work, the fact that you can buy Westjet Dollars, and earn Westjet Dollars from other sources such as buying flights and using Westjet credit cards, etc.

And the fact that in normal times you can spend them on either flights or packages, no matter how you earned them, I would think it's *likely* you'd be able to use them for multiple trips, and use them for whatever you want (buying flights, etc).

I find it unlikely they would say 'these Westjet Dollars are considered separate from the other Westjet Dollars in your account, and can only be used to buy a Westjet Vacations package, and only one package."

But if I hear anything different I'll post it!

I am currently away from Canada, should I be changing my plans to come home?

- François-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Minister of Foreign affairs has stated that Canadians abroad are encouraged to come home now. "We recommend that Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available." Twitter: @FP_Champagne There is *speculation* that this is a preliminary step towards reducing the number of Canadian airports that will accept flights from other countries.

March 16th (morning)

Prime Minister Trudeau has announced that international flights into Canada will be rerouted to 4 primary airports for dedicated enhanced screening: Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC), Toronto (YYZ), and Montreal (YUL).

March 16th - evening

Westjet has cancelled *all* international flights (including the U.S.) for 30 days. The final flights will be on Sunday at midnight. After that, the only inbound flights into Canada with passengers will be rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government. Sunwing is taking similar measures.

March 17th - evening

- The United States and Canada are preparing to issue a joint statement that could suspend non-essential travel between the two countries in the next few days. "Part of the discussions involve what types of vehicles and individuals would still be allowed to travel between the two borders and for what purpose, the official said. The restrictions will likely allow for significant flexibility." (Personal opinion: It's highly likely that Canadians driving home and crossing the border will be considered essential travel)

- If you're currently outside North America, and trying to find a one way flight back to Canada, and finding them very expensive, one thing to keep in mind is that booking a roundtrip flight may actually be cheaper in some cases.

I am stranded in [country] and trying to get home to Canada

- The Canadian government has said they currently have no plans to repatriate people from other countries, and travelers should rely on whatever flights they can find on their own to make their way home.

(I'd speculate it's likely our government will eventually be coordinating with airlines to bring people home using unscheduled flights, but that's going to take time to organize).

- To help Canadians abroad return home, the Government of Canada is creating a special financial assistance program, the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program, which will provide an "emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return."

- Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email [email protected]

- The Government of Canada encourages all Canadians abroad to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to get the latest updates on the situation at their destination. (Chris's note: I know that so far, the updates have been frustrating and useless, but if something does come up that's useful, at least you'll be notified. And registering helps our government with the logistics of organizing flights home. Also, to book one of the rescue flights home, you may need to be registered with the Government of Canada).

- Transport Minister Marc Garneau has instructed all airlines to deny permission to board to anyone, including Canadian citizens, with COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever, cough or other respiratory issues. Those travellers will be asked to seek medical attention in the countries where they are.

- If you're currently outside North America, and trying to find a one way flight back to Canada, one thing to keep in mind is that *sometimes* booking a roundtrip flight may actually be cheaper.

- You can try searching Facebook or WhatsApp for groups with other people that are in the same situation in your country. Try searching for 'Canadians stuck in [country]' - Here are some I've seen. Canadians stuck in ... Australia · Ecuador · Ecuador (group 2) · Ecuador (FB page) · India · Morocco · Peru ·

Sunwing offering free flights home for all Canadians

Canadians looking to return home on a Sunwing flight should check the most up to date flight times here.

You do not need to have a current Sunwing flight booked to get the free flight.

If a northbound flight is operating from their destination, they should make their way to the departure airport and present themselves to the Sunwing Airlines check in counter.

If space remains prior to departure at the closure of check in, any available seats will be offered to Canadians or Canadian permanent residents free of charge.

Chris's opinion: Even if the Sunwing flight isn't to your home city in Canada, you should probably consider it. Borders are closing fast everywhere, and finding flights home to Canada is becoming very difficult, as they are being reduced drastically after this weekend, by all airlines. Once back in Canada, there are still plenty of flights operating within the country to get you home. Sunwing plans to operate international flights until March 23rd.

Sunwing operates flights to Canada from the following locations:

Antigua

Aruba

Bahamas: Nassau, Grand Bahama Island

Bonaire

Costa Rica: Liberia

Cuba: Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cayo Santa Maria, Holguin, Varadero

Dominican Republic: Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana

Grand Cayman

Honduras: Roatan

Jamaica: Montego Bay

Mexico: Cancun, Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta

Panama: Rio Hato (just west of Panama City)

St. Maarten

Trinidad and Tabago: Tobago

United States: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami, St. Petersburg/Tampa

I am stranded in Ecuador and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some advice I've seen from other Canadians in the same situation:

Update March 21

From the Facebook Page: Canadians Stuck in Ecuador

"Some good news! It looks like the government / consulate is considering sending a rescue flight to Ecuador."

Instructions:

Step 1: If you have not already registered your family member on the Registration of Canadians abroad tool, PLEASE DO SO ASAP!

The link can be found here: https://www.voyage2.gc.ca/minroca/mobile/main-en.htm

Step 2: Fill out your information in this link for each traveller! https://bit.ly/2U7OwxV

It looks like they are trying to create a list of all the travellers stuck in Ecuador! Please update as soon as you can!

Facebook Page: Canadians Stuck in Ecuador

"I am having problems completing my registration for Can. Citizens Abroad. Is anybody else?"

"Yes. It wouldn't allow me to enter the year of my birth."

Update Mar 23

Air Canada announces there will be a a repatriation flight from Quito, Ecuador to Toronto on March 25 on a wide-body Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767 with 281 seats.

Canadians abroad must register with Global Affairs Canada to obtain a seat on one of these special flights. Travellers are also strongly encouraged to contact the local Canadian Embassy or [email protected] if urgent assistance is required.


Update Mar 24

Air Canada announces two more repatriation flights from Quito, Ecuador.

These flights are currently scheduled to be operated by Air Canada Rouge on March 29 and 31 from Quito to Toronto with a 282-seat wide-body aircraft. The flights are in addition to a special flight operating from Quito to Toronto on March 25.

Canadians abroad must register with Global Affairs Canada to obtain a seat on one of these special flights. Travellers are also strongly encouraged to contact the local Canadian Embassy or [email protected] if urgent assistance is required.

I am stranded in India and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some advice I've seen from other Canadians in the same situation:

"This was shared by our local MP hope it helps:"



"There will be no flights leaving India after March 21st until March 31st."

"I have a very similar situation. It sounds like airports will be closing in India for a week (as of now). Air Canada is offering flights from April 1st, things may change so much between now and the 1st so it's a scary situation."

" I know AC is sending out at least two 777s to New Delhi. They've just flown an empty plane there to pick up Canadians. Try DM them on Twitter, but they are pretty busy with everyone contacting them with change of flights etc. I’d say if you aren’t travelling in the next two weeks or so, try contact AC later and let people who need to come home get in hold with AC first."

note from Chris: I do know that Air Canada has officially announced plans to cut down the number of international airports they serve around the world in April down to just 6 cities (not counting the U.S. cities), in co-operation with the Canadian government. Delhi, India (DEL) is one of those six airports.



I am stranded in Central America and trying to get home to Canada

This is definitely a tough one. In terms of non-stop flights from Central America to Canada, I believe this is the complete list:

-- Roatan, Honduras (RTB) to
Toronto, Montreal (Air Transat & Sunwing)

-- Belize (BZE) to
Calgary (Westjet),
Toronto (Air Canada, Westjet)

-- Costa Rica (LIR) to
Vancouver (Air Transat)
Calgary (Westjet)
Toronto,Montreal (Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing)
Toronto (Westjet)
Edmonton (Sunwing)
Regina (Sunwing)

-- Costa Rica (SJO) to
Toronto, Montreal (Air Canada)
Toronto (Westjet)
Montreal (Air Transat)

-- Panama (PTY) to
Toronto (Air Canada, COPA)
Montreal (COPA)

It may seem like a lot of options, but a lot of these flights are also just a certain number of days per week, and Westjet is stopping their international flights on Saturday at midnight. At that point, they'll be coordinating with the Canadian government to get people home, which could take time to organize. And a lot of the remaining flights will be full of people trying to get back.

Sunwing is taking similar action, only allowing northbound flights as of March 17th..

If I could choose to be trying to get home from anywhere in Central America, it would be Costa Rica, as you can see from the list above, with so many Canadian airlines serving it (normally). And if I had to bet, I would say they will have the most options in the weeks to come.

The other option would be trying to get to the U.S., and then getting home by land options. Most flights from Central America route through Houston.

Google Flights search of one way flights from San Jose, Costa Rica to the U.S. on March 21st. Change the origin city to one of the cities listed above.

Update Mar 25

Air Transat has announced a few repatriation flights from El Salvador and Guatemala.

San Salvador to Montreal on Friday, March 27, aboard a Boeing 737-800.

Guatemala City to Montreal on Friday, March 27, aboard an Airbus A321-200.

Canadians who would like to book seats on these flights should contact Global Affairs Canada by calling 613-996-8885 or by emailing [email protected]

Update Mar 27

Air Transat has announced a few more repatriation flights from El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as one from Roatan, Honduras.

Guatemala City to Montreal on Sunday, March 29, aboard an Airbus A330-200.

San Salvador to Montreal on Monday, March 30, aboard an Airbus A321-200.

Roatan to Montreal on Monday, March 30, aboard an Airbus A321-200.

Canadians who would like to book seats on these flights should contact Global Affairs Canada by calling 613-996-8885 or by emailing [email protected]

I am stranded in Cuba and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some info:

Update Mar 23

Westjet has announced a few rescue flights, from the following cities in Cuba :

23 Mar 2691 Varadero, Cuba Toronto Pearson 14:30 18:02
23 Mar 2625 Holguin, Cuba Toronto Pearson 14:40 18:39

Westjet: "We encourage guests to make reservations through westjet.com before contacting the contact centre for assistance. Canadians abroad are also encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada online at travel.gc.ca. "

source: https://blog.westjet.com/bringing-canadians-home-an-update-from-westjet/

I am stranded in Morocco and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some advice I've seen from other Canadians in the same situation:

Join the Facebook Group: Canadians in Morocco (most of the posts currently seem to be from stranded Europeans)

"There's a WhatsApp chat group called 'Leaving Morocco' that’s very useful.

- I'm hearing that there may be flights being provided from Casablanca to the UK, and then travelers need to find a way home from there.

- "Don’t go to the embassy. It’s useless. Family was there this morning and they’re not letting anyone in or helping.
Check with Easy Jet and Ryan Air. They’re rescuing Brits from Marrakech. We bought flights this morning for family from Marrakech to Stansted UK with RyanAir. Then separate flights to Heathrow to Toronto. It’s an hour away, can take the train or just cab it. Keep checking!! They’re releasing many flights for tomorrow. Get them out, I think after March 19th they will not be allowed to fly out."

Update March 20th

Nell Stewart, the Ambassador of Canada to Morocco has tweeted:

"Canadians in Marrakech: There are seats available for you on US repatriation flights. Please present to the US check-in table before 5:30pm, look for staff in bright green vests. Transit to Canada.

These flights from Marrakech to London for transit to Canada are continuing and timing of last flight tonight has been pushed; arrive at check-in table by 6:45. With [heart] to our U.S. friends."

https://twitter.com/NellStewart



Update March 20th

Air Canada announced today that the airline, in collaboration with the Government of Canada, will operate a special flight March 21 from Morocco to bring Canadians home.

Air Canada will operate a wide body aircraft, with 450 seats, from, Casablanca, Morocco to Montreal.

Global Affairs Canada is coordinating local arrangements for Canadians wishing to return home.

It is important for those travelling to be reminded that only Canadian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family holding a valid travel document will be permitted to board these flights to Canada. All passengers will undergo a health screening before boarding the aircraft.



Update March 22

Two additional flights are now scheduled to operate on March 23 and 25 from Casablanca to Montreal with a 450-seat wide-body aircraft.

Travellers must contact Global Affairs Canada to book seats.

I am stranded in Peru and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), there is also a Facebook group for Canadian travellers stuck in Peru right now.

Update Mar 21

"Hi there. I am in Peru right now. The rescue efforts are on the way. They are working on the logistics. We are finally getting some reliable information. There is no exact time or date at this hour. However, just got an email from the embassy that the flights are go for sure. The deal has been reached and they are organizing ground transport for all of us to get to the airport."

"I received an email from the embassy. They are scheduling rescues from remote areas to get all to Lima and then fly us to canada. They said to wait for the next communication."

Update Mar 22

Adrian Brijbassi, of Vacay.ca, has put up a blog post titled "Canadians in Peru Rejoice - ‘We’re Coming Home!’ about his experience being stranded in Peru, and how things are going.

Update Mar 23

@CanadaPeru (Canadian Embassy account for Peru) has tweeted the following:

"While we continue to finalise flight details, we can confirm that despite rumours there will be NO flight departing from Lima on Monday.

We have secured authorizations to operate three flights this week.

Canadians in Puerto Maldonado have also arrived in Cusco. And the trip included a boat ride for some."



Update Mar 23

Air Canada announces that they will operate three flights between Toronto and Lima, Peru. The first departure from Canada scheduled for March 24 will also take back Peruvians who wish to return home. Two other special flights from Lima to Toronto are currently scheduled for March 26 and 27. The flights will be operated by a wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft with 400 seats.

Canadians abroad must register with Global Affairs Canada to obtain a seat on one of these special flights. Travellers are also strongly encouraged to contact the local Canadian Embassy or [email protected] if urgent assistance is required.

Update Mar 28

Air Canada announces another repatriation flight: April 1st from Lima, Peru to Toronto on a 400-seat wide-body aircraft.

Canadians abroad must register with Global Affairs Canada to book their seat. For any emergency help, travelers can also contact [email protected]

I am stranded in the Philippines and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some advice I've seen from other Canadians in the same situation:

- Here is a link to a screenshot of an e-mail that was sent out by Global Affairs Canada on March 19th, mentioning that the Government of the Philippines has lifted the ban on outgoing international flights.

screenshot link

- Nonstop flights from Manila to Vancouver and Toronto are still operating on Philippine Airlines. These are the only nonstop flights from the Philippines to Canada.


I am stranded in Costa Rica and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), Global Affairs Canada has issued the following statement:

Dear Canadian,

GLOBAL TRAVEL ADVISORY

On March 13th, 2020, the Government of Canada has issued a Global Travel Advisory advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. If you are currently outside of Canada:

- Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada. Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.
- Westjet will continue operations to Liberia and Juan Santamaria (San Jose) until March 22, 2020. Operations suspended effective March 23, 2020*
- Air Transat will operate until March 22 to Liberia and Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airports. Additional flights for Air Transat only clients scheduled for March 25 and March 28, 2020*
- Air Canada will operate to Liberia and San Jose as scheduled until the following dates*:

o Toronto-San Jose-Toronto April 3rd
o Montreal-San Jose-Montreal March 23rd
o Toronto-Liberia-Toronto March 25th
o Montreal-Liberia-Montreal March 25th

- The Canadian government is in discussion with main Canadian carriers to facilitate the return of international travellers. As soon as we have news or developments, we will share in our ROCA messages https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration and on official Embassy social media.

- Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.

*Please note flight schedules are subject to change.

This advisory overrides all other risk levels, with the exception of areas for which we advise to avoid all travel (including regional advisories). The avoid all travel advisories remain valid.

COSTA RICA ADVISORY

On March 16, the Costa Rican government announced that as of 11:59 P.M. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and continuing until April 12, only Costa Rican citizens, residents, and foreign diplomats will be able to enter Costa Rica.

We are aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to leave the country as a result as airlines are reducing or canceling flights during this 25-day period. Although some airlines have already suspended or reduced flights to and from Costa Rica, commercial flights are still available. We encourage you to make every effort possible to return home while commercial flights are still available

Chris's note: Sunwing normally has flights out of Liberia (LIR) to Canada. They are currently offering free flights home to Canada for all Canadians, regardless of whether or not you booked a flight with them.

Update Mar 23

Westjet has announced a few rescue flights, from the following cities in Costa Rica :

23 Mar 2643 Liberia, Costa Rica Toronto Pearson 13:40 21:00
24 Mar 2599 San José, Costa Rica Toronto Pearson 13:30 20:57
25 Mar 2643 Liberia, Costa Rica Toronto Pearson 13:40 21:00

Westjet: "We encourage guests to make reservations through westjet.com before contacting the contact centre for assistance. Canadians abroad are also encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada online at travel.gc.ca. "

source: https://blog.westjet.com/bringing-canadians-home-an-update-from-westjet/

I am stranded in Honduras and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), I've seen the following advice from people in a similar situation:

"Hey bro Salvadorean Canadian here, my aunt landed last night and had the same issue. You're gonna have to go to Nicaragua and fly to Miami then Toronto then come here. That's your last chance before Sunday. All other countries in Central America are closing or have closed their borders for an uncertain amount of time."

From the Government of Canada:



"Martial law is coming into effect today, without special travel papers we can't leave where we are staying now."

"There are confirmed flights from Roatan but currently no way to get from mainland to here. They are working on getting flights to come get Canadians and Americans but are waiting for confirmation from airlines."



I am stranded in Jamaica and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some info:

Update Mar 23

Swoop has announced a rescue flight, along with the price, from Montego Bay, Jamaica

Wednesday, March 25, 7:00 PM, Montego Bay (MBJ) to Hamilton (YHM),$199.00,WO 4023

To book this flight, travelers are encouraged to register with the Canadian government (see general advice above).

Update Mar 23

Westjet has announced a few rescue flights, from the following cities in Jamaica :

23 Mar 2601 Kingston, Jamaica Toronto Pearson 14:00 19:25
23 Mar 2661 Montego Bay, Jamaica Toronto Pearson 18:00 23:12

Westjet: "We encourage guests to make reservations through westjet.com before contacting the contact centre for assistance. Canadians abroad are also encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada online at travel.gc.ca. "

source: https://blog.westjet.com/bringing-canadians-home-an-update-from-westjet/

I am stranded in Mexico and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some info:

Update Mar 23

Swoop has announced a rescue flight, along with the price, from Cancun, Mexico

Tuesday, March 24, 10:30 AM, Cancun (CUN) to (YHM), $174.22,WO4013

To book this flight, travelers are encouraged to register with the Canadian government (see general advice above).

source: https://www.flyswoop.com/repatriation-flights/

Update Mar 23

Westjet has announced a few rescue flights, from the following cities in Mexico :

23 Mar 2425 Cancun, Mexico Toronto Pearson 12:15 17:15
23 Mar 2289 San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Calgary 14:10 19:40
23 Mar 2153 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Vancouver 15:25 19:38
23 Mar 2383 Ixtapa, Mexico Calgary 15:35 21:08
23 Mar 2247 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Calgary 16:25 21:22
24 Mar 2793 Mérida, Mexico Toronto Pearson 13:35 19:38
24 Mar 2379 Huatulco, Mexico Calgary 15:25 20:31
24 Mar 4119 Mazatlan, Mexico Calgary 15:40 21:15
24 Mar 4117 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Calgary 17:25 22:22

Westjet: "We encourage guests to make reservations through westjet.com before contacting the contact centre for assistance. Canadians abroad are also encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada online at travel.gc.ca. "

source: https://blog.westjet.com/bringing-canadians-home-an-update-from-westjet/

I am stranded in the United States and trying to get home to Canada

In addition to the general advice listed in this article under I'm stranded in [country] (which you should read first), here is some info:

Update Mar 23

Swoop has announced a few rescue flights, along with their prices, from the following U.S. cities :

Monday, March 23, 8:50 PM, Tampa (TPA) to Hamilton (YHM), $138.23, WO 4003
Wednesday, March 25, 12:30 PM, Orlando (MCO) to Hamilton (YHM), $153.67, WO 4021

To book one of these flights, travelers are encouraged to register with the Canadian government (see general advice above).

Swoop also expects the following flights to have limited availability for sale, capped at a maximum price of $199:

Monday, March 23 at 11:15 local time, Flight WO 4005 from Mesa (AZA) to Edmonton (YEG)

See https://www.flyswoop.com/repatriation-flights/ for more info.

Update Mar 23

Westjet has announced a few rescue flights, from the following U.S. cities :

23 Mar 1875 Lihue, Kauai Vancouver 22:40 7:20
23 Mar 1883 Kona, Hawaii Vancouver 22:50 7:35
23 Mar 1853 Maui, Kahului Vancouver 22:55 7:30

23 Mar 1175 Fort Myers Toronto Pearson 14:00 17:05
23 Mar 1221 Fort Lauderdale Toronto Pearson 14:20 17:34
23 Mar 1465 Phoenix Edmonton 16:00 20:20

Westjet: "We encourage guests to make reservations through westjet.com before contacting the contact centre for assistance. Canadians abroad are also encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada online at travel.gc.ca. "

source: https://blog.westjet.com/bringing-canadians-home-an-update-from-westjet/

I am a foreign national, trying to get to Canada

The following info is a summary from Rashid Ali, who wrote this for people who may be having trouble getting through to IRCC's hotline:

- The Canadian travel ban is now in effect as of March 18th @ 12 pm. For anyone that is flying and left before 12pm, there should not be any issue.

- With the ban in effect, all foreign nationals on flights to Canada are not eligible to enter. The only exception is spouses, common law partners and dependent children of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. So if an international student or a foreign worker is outside of Canada right now, they will not be allowed to come back.

- If you are eligible under the current policy, get to Canada, and do not leave. Things are changing by the hour.

- If you are already in the USA, and have been there for 14 days prior to entry as of today, you would be eligible regardless of nationality.

- Prime Minister Trudeau has said there would be no tourism between Canada and USA. "Essential services" are still not confirmed.

- The ban does not apply to citizens or permanent residents turning back to Canada, unless they show symptoms, in which case they won't be allowed on the plane.

- If you are in Canada and applied for an extension, implied status has not changed.

- If applying and required to provide docs, government extended biometrics are now 90 days instead of 30.

- All citizenship oaths are cancelled. Landing interviews. cancelled. If you are already scheduled to land, it will be done by telephone.

- It's reasonable to work from home on a work permit.

- Students are still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (even if classes are online).

- Extensions of Temporary Resident status are going to be delayed.

- The Visa office overseas doesn't want to see anybody except for staff. There are going to be delays.

- LMIAs are extended from a 6 month to 9 month validity.

- Applications are still being processed. Visa processed has not stopped.

- People trying to enter via a land border have to show proof that they will self quarantine for 14 days, and need a plan and place to stay.

Rashid has also set up a Facebook group to give the latest updates on COVID-19's impact on immigration, Canadian visas, citizenship, etc.

Airbnb cancellation

How do I cancel my Airbnb booking?

Go to this page on the Airbnb website.

From what I can tell, if your plans involve Italy, South Korea, China, or the United States, you should be able to automatically cancel and get a full refund through the Airbnb system without any extra work.

If it's not one of those countries, and your cancellation reason has something to do with COVID-19, you can cancel your booking, and then submit extra documentation (within 14 days) for a full refund.

Update Mar 14

Airbnb just announced you can now cancel your booking anywhere in the world, with no charge or penalty, if your check-in dates are between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020.

Update Mar 30

- Airbnb announces you can now cancel your trips starting on or before May 31st, and receive a full refund.

There seems to be a bit of confusion though, as to what a 'full refund' is, and how to actually get it.

Here's what I've learned from looking at my own Airbnb reservations for May:

1. While logged into your account, if you go to the Airbnb COVID-19 policy page: https://www.airbnb.ca/help/article/2701/extenuating-circumstances-policy-and-the-coronavirus-covid19

... and scroll to the bottom, you should see your reservations under 'Your upcoming reservations' with a 'change or cancel' button below each reservation.

2. If you click on the 'change or cancel' button and then 'cancel (next' you'll be taken to the "Why do you need to cancel?" page.

3. Now, at this point, if you have a reservation with a flexible cancellation policy, no matter what reason you select, it appears you get a full cash refund minus the service fee.

However, if you have a reservation with a more strict cancellation policy, things change depending on the reason you select...

a. If you select 'My travel plans have changed due to COVID-19', you are given a choice between taking a 50% refund in cash, minus the service fee.

OR, taking a 100% refund, with no service fee lost, *but* it is in the form of an Airbnb credit.

b. However, if you select the reason: 'I have a documented extenuating circumstance' it seems like you can get a 100% refund, in cash.

I haven't gone past the 3b. step myself - but I have heard of people submitting canceled flights, or a screenshot from Canada's travel advisories, due to COVID-19 as their documentation, and receiving a full refund.

An Airbnb article that is somewhat useful: What options do I have for cancelling a reservation for a place to stay due to coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Disney cancellation

I can't get a hold of Disney, and I'm wondering about my park passes

"We have a 5 day pass for Disney World for April. We e-mailed them and this was their response:"

Mar 23, 8:30 PM EDT

Greetings,

Thank you for contacting Walt Disney World® Ticketing.

As you may know, Walt Disney World® Resort will be closed through the end of the month. We are working closely with local, state, national, and international public health authorities, and will continue to make adjustments to our operations as appropriate. We look forward to welcoming Guests back as soon as it is advisable. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Please note that your 5-Day and 6-Day Base Canadian Resident tickets have been modified to expire on December 15th, 2020, which may be seen in your My Disney Experience account.

If you are unable to utilize your tickets prior to their new expiration, we may be able to apply the price paid for a completely unused ticket towards a new Disney Theme Park Ticket in the future, subject to restrictions.

If you are interested in using the value of your unused ticket purchased online or with our agent via phone, towards a new Walt Disney World ticket, we need to confirm billing information for your initial purchase.

We invite the purchaser to contact Walt Disney World Ticketing directly by calling 407-566-4985 option 4.

Our office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET, seven (7) days a week. Please have your order confirmation and original form of payment ready that we may discuss your options with you.

Sincerely,
Lola
Ticketing Guest Services

Walt Disney World® Resort

"We have hotel/park tickets booked for May, and on their website, they are doing a full refund up to the end of June."

Expedia cancellation

I can't get a hold of Expedia to cancel / change my flight

People are reporting that Expedia has been nearly impossible to get a hold of. In some cases, people with flights booked through Expedia are reporting success with contacting the airline directly.

Update: Expedia has added a form for dealing with cancellation and refund requests.
expedia.ca (Canadian site) refund request form
expedia.com (U.S. site) refund request form

If you can't find the original e-mail from Expedia with your itinerary number, you can try this link to have them re-send it.

Update Mar 22

Expedia has announced that they will refund hotel guests during the COVID-19 outbreak regardless of existing booking policy.

The Expedia Group (which owns Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago, CheapTickets and eBookers, among others) created the Global Cancellation Waiver Program - a mechanism that will see every property in its portfolio automatically enrolled so that a guest's cancellation and refund can be issued if they wish to cancel a booking.

Hoteliers had until midnight PST on Friday, March 20, to opt out of the program.

Expedia has said that due to the "global force majeure circumstances, we intend to enroll all partners with outstanding non-refundable prepaid bookings made prior to March 19th for stays between March 20 and April 30, 2020 into the Global Cancellation Waiver Program."

For hotels that opt out, the Expedia Group will give those hotels' travelers a one-year travel voucher if they cancel non-refundable reservations at a property within the dates March 20 to April 30, unless issuance of a voucher is not technically possible.

Expedia Group's move came at the end of a week when it emerged that Booking.com had put in place a similar refund policy but not in consultation with hoteliers.

I can't get a hold of 'Expedia for TD' to cancel / change my flight

Update March 21:

"I booked with Expedia for TD and I was able to cancel online myself today and get a full credit with Air Canada. This option wasn’t available a few days ago, but I expect they’re updating things regularly including their systems so people can self serve. "



RBC Rewards cancellation

I can't get a hold of RBC Rewards

Try the suggestions on this page. There is some information about how to e-mail for a refund.

VRBO cancellation

How do I get a refund from a booking I made through VRBO?

I've heard from owners who rent properties using VRBO. They're disappointed that so far VRBO has been radio silent. With the way VRBO works, prior to check-in, VRBO holds the funds. So far they have not given property owners using VRBO a way to be flexible with cancellations.

Just some personal opinions

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the non-stop information about COVID-19 and the impact it is having on all of us, emotionally and financially.

Choose your sources of information wisely, and keep in mind that even news organizations you may not traditionally think of as being the 'click-baity' type are not immune to sensationalist stories during this period of time (I'm looking at you National Post).

For your own emotional well-being, try to limit the number of times per day that you read news about the pandemic. Stick to sources that have a great reputation for being based in scientific fact without sensationalism.

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus

Washington Post: Simulations of the infection/recovery curves for different levels of social distancing

Science Magazine: Does closing schools slow the spread of coronavirus? Past outbreaks provide clues








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