Pre-travel Testing – what’s it all about?

Last week, WestJet was proud to be part of the announcement with the Governments of Alberta and Canada on the arrival of government-approved COVID-19 testing at our home and largest hub, Calgary International Airport. As the only Canadian airline currently flying between Calgary and international destinations like Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, this pilot is a game changer for Canadians looking to safely reduce their quarantine time upon arrival back to Canada.

While you may have heard quite a bit about this Alberta-arrivals testing, you may not have heard as much about the secondary announcement – a new fee-for-service testing program that will be offered to travellers leaving the province so they can get a COVID-19 test and results within 72-hours before travelling. The tests, which will cost $150, will be provided by Dynalife Medical Labs. Details on the testing can be found on westjet.com.

If we already have inbound testing, why is outbound travel testing important?

First off, outbound testing enables Albertans to get where they need to go safely and minimizes the risk of anyone leaving Alberta transmitting COVID-19 to others. This is an important step in stopping the spread of COVID-19, while getting you to the places you need to be. As we head into November and towards the holiday travel season, you may be looking for reassurance that you aren’t an asymptomatic COVID-positive traveller when heading home to visit family or friends; pre-travel testing, where results are delivered prior to departure, helps provide that comfort before travel. On another note, WestJet is also working on a pre-travel testing trial with the Vancouver Airport Authority, which is expected to launch in November. Some details on this upcoming trial are available here.

Second, as governments around the world look at ways of safely attracting visitors for business or leisure reasons, wider availability of broad-spectrum COVID testing, along with post-travel testing, will be a way of ensuring the safety of citizens, while helping bolster economies that have been hard hit by the drop in tourism. Many nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Middle East and Asia require a negative test certificate within 72 hours of arrival in order to be deemed admissible to the country.

As we continue to adjust our international scheduling, we are prioritizing the health and safety of our guests and crews, while also balancing the needs of our guests. While this winter travel season may look quite different from years past, we are pleased there are now convenient, valid and quick testing options available for Albertans, whether you are looking to visit Vancouver Island or are hoping to head somewhere more exotic over the long Canadian winter season.

And as always, make sure you are aware of the travel requirements for your destination. As they have since March, travel restrictions continue to change rapidly. Details can be found here.

For information on WestJet’s Safety Above All hygiene program, visit westjet.com