Important information for residents returning to Fort McMurray

It’s been four weeks since the horrific fires in the Wood Buffalo region drove the residents of Fort McMurray out, leaving a city partially in ruins. Together we watched in disbelief as the largest natural disaster in Canadian history destroyed an important city in Canada’s natural resource sector.

As we have already posted here on the blog, WestJet participated, with many others, in the evacuation of the city. In the face of this tragedy, there have been many uplifting stories of the triumph of the human spirit that has eased somewhat the sting of this disaster.

With emergency officials having now made the city safe for some residents to return, we will resume operations and begin the reverse process – getting the evacuees home to Fort McMurray. The airport is scheduled to reopen to commercial air service on June 10 and, provided it is safe to do so, we plan to operate flights into Fort McMurray as of that date.

To make the transition home as smooth and efficient as possible we will be implementing temporary changes to some of our guidelines for guests flying to Fort McMurray. Here is a summary.

Schedule
Due to airspace restrictions at Fort McMurray International Airport, WestJet will operate a reduced schedule from June 10 through June 14, 2016, with two flights from Calgary and two flights from Edmonton each day. All guests travelling to or from Fort McMurray are encouraged to check the status of their flights prior to leaving for the airport.

Fares and promo code
Flights to and from Fort McMurray are available for purchase on our website now. In addition to lowering fares, we are offering an additional 25 per cent discount on all available seats to and from Fort McMurray, as well as to Edmonton and Calgary, for reservations made prior to June 15 for travel until June 30. Please see westjet.com/discount for discount code details and to book flights.

Changing existing reservations
Our rebooking policy remains in place for guests who purchased a WestJet ticket on or before May 20, 2016, for travel through July 31, 2016. Guests can make changes at no charge by calling 1-888-937-8538 (1-888-WESTJET). WestJet Vacations guests who wish to make alternate travel arrangements should contact WestJet Vacations at 1-877-737-7001.

Identification requirements
Transport Canada has waived the requirement to present government-issued ID for guests affected by the evacuation who are returning to Fort McMurray. However, guests are advised to arrive at the airport early and be prepared for possible longer wait times at security screening.

Baggage
Checked baggage fees will be waived up until July 31, 2016, for Fort McMurray residents returning home. However, existing limits for overweight, oversized and excess baggage apply. Please see our checked baggage information page for more details.

Pets
For guests travelling in or out of Fort McMurray, fees will be waived for pets until July 31, 2016. For the safety of guests and their pets, all pets travelling in the cabin of the aircraft must be in kennels that meet the size requirements as outlined on our website. In addition, there are limits in place for the number of kennels – both in cabin and checked – that are allowed on WestJet aircraft. Guests travelling with pets must make arrangements by contacting 1-888-937-8538 (1-888-WESTJET).

As well, we will, through our community investment program, continue to offer flights to Red Cross officials in order for their people to provide recovery services in the area.

This will be a long road ahead and just as this community of Fort McMurray has supported us in the past, we will in turn support the community in the future. We look forward to helping our guests and their families get back to normal as soon as possible.