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Flying During Covid – Air Canada

There’s a lot to worry about these days, but getting on an airplane is up there on the stress-0-metre. A Facebook group, Air Passenger Rights (Canada) has dedicated itself to helping people deal with air travel problems during Covid. Here, for the record is my own personal experience.

The night before flying I checked into one of my favourite hotels, The Grand Winnipeg so I could spend the evening sipping wine and watching the planes land and take off. This time – no planes. None. It was like the zombie apocalypse for real. One lonely jack rabbit bounced by several times, as if nature was already reclaiming this airport.

Cancellations and Itinerary Changes

an empty airport – Winnipeg

Flight number 1, a Swoop flight direct from Winnipeg to Victoria, was canceled when Swoop stopped flying the route. They even tried to keep my money. You can read more about that fiasco elsewhere on my blog:

Once I received my refund I booked a reasonable Air Canada flight, but that got changed to unreasonable with an itinerary that put me on a 9 1/2 hour layover in Vancouver. The flight that finally got me here was not exactly on the day I wanted to travel, and not exactly convenient, but good enough. I held my grandson for the first time last night, and that’s all that matters.

The airlines are suffering. It’s not like me to cry over large corporation losses, but as a traveler I have great concerns  about the future of this industry. My flights, and yours too are constantly changing because the airplanes are empty. A comment to the security personnel at Winnipeg International that it was nice not to wait in line, was returned with a scowl and the reply, “the airport can’t function like this much longer.”


Temperature checks prior to boarding

In my opinion it was safer flying yesterday than going to Walmart. Masks are now mandatory for everyone everywhere at the airport, and everyone is complying. Because I was going to visit a new born baby and his parents I wore an N95 mask designed to provide me with a little more safety, but it’s really not required when everyone else is covered too.

Prior to boarding I was asked about my health and travel history twice, once when checking my bag and again at security. Just before boarding I had my temperature checked. You’d have to be a real asshole to get on the plane knowingly sick. Once on board,  Air Canada handed out a little care package that included: mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, a bottle of water and a bag of pretzels. No one sat beside me on either of my two flights, because the planes are so empty. If they could fill those seats, I’m sure they would.

a row to myself

Air Canada Care Package

a rather empty flight


Physical distancing was not a problem in any of the airports I visited yesterday (Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria). They were all mostly empty. Vancouver’s International section was completely closed. Waiting areas had seats marked off so no one sat beside each other. Compliance was the name of the game, we are after all Canadians. Only one cocky teenage boy gave his family grief, wearing a mask around his chin defiantly and pushing past me to debark.The night before leaving my friends and I debated what would be safer, flying or driving for these required family visits. They need to visit a Mom, I needed to visit a baby. Since we’ve driven through Covid, and now I’ve flown through it, I’d have to say – the jury is out. If you get flights like mine, absolutely flying is safer. If air travel picks up and gets busier, I’m not so sure. The air lines simply can not afford to keep this up on purpose. Of all industries suffering from the pandemic right now, I imagine the travel industry is bearing the brunt of it. I made it here, and somehow I’ll make a return flight but I won’t be surprised if there are a few more adjustments along the way.

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