Canadians dreaming of a winter tropical vacation to Hawaii will be excited about WestJet’s new announcement to offer pre-flight COVID-19 tests for its passengers departing Calgary International Airport (YYC).
The news is an important step towards reopening normal travel between Canada and Hawaii as it means that Canadians will no longer be required to self-isolate for two weeks on arrival in the U.S. state, as has been the case up until now.
Previously, in order to avoid the quarantine period Hawaiian authorities required all visitors to have a negative test from an approved laboratory, which were limited to locations on the U.S. mainland and in Japan. WestJet flights from YYC airport will be the first in Canada to offer COVID-19 testing which is recognised by the Hawaiian state government.
Testing Process Needed To Avoid Quarantine
In order to travel to Hawaii directly from Canada without having to quarantine, Canadian travellers must follow strict testing instructions issued by WestJet and the Hawaiian government. Most importantly, passengers must display a negative test result obtained within 72 hours before travel from the WestJet laboratory partner DynaLIFE. The test costs CAD$150 per person.
All Canadians are eligible to for the testing program, but at present it is only possible to obtain a test in Alberta for WestJet flights from YYC. Canadian travellers who do not take the test or follow these instructions will still have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival in Hawaii.
To avoid the 14 day quarantine period when travelling to Hawaii, travellers must:
- Set up a Safe Travels Hawaii account for each travelling adult at hawaii.gov.
- Take a test at a DynaLIFE participating pharmacy location within 72-hours of their flight departing to Hawaii.
- Complete the Travel Health Questionnaire on Safe Travels within 24 hours of their flight departure to receive a personalized QR code.
- Display the Safe Travels QR code and negative test result from DynaLIFE during boarding.
- Complete the final screening process upon arrival into Hawaii by showing the personalized QR code, negative test results, government ID, and be prepared to demonstrate their method of communication for the daily health check-in (i.e. cell phone).
Testing Offers Relief To Canadian Travellers
The roll-out of the COVID-19 testing program from YYC will come as a huge relief to travellers in Canada, effectively opening up the country’s first international safe-travel corridor since the pandemic began. The news comes as Canadian’s hopes for Christmas travel have been dampened by increasing implementation of partial lockdown measures across the country to control the spread of the virus, including non-essential travel bans.
Now at least Canadian travellers may begin to look forward to potential winter sun vacations in Hawaii, which is a popular tourist destination due to its excellent year-round weather, stunning scenery and strong flight connections to North America.
WestJet will begin its winter flight schedule to Hawaii in December which includes twice-weekly non-stop flights from YYC to Maui and weekly flights to Honolulu. With travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine for travellers in place in other popular tourist locations, Hawaii could be a top destination for Canadian sun-seekers this winter season.
Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer, said “WestJet's teams are working hard to rebuild confidence in air travel through important partnerships like this one with Hawaii's Trusted Travel Partner program and DynaLIFE. With pre-departure and arrivals testing now available through the collaborative efforts of the Governments of Canada, the Government of Alberta and the YYC Calgary International Airport, our guests have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy safe and enjoyable travel without the rigorous quarantine requirements.”
YYC Pioneering COVID-19 Testing Programs
Calgary International Airport is establishing itself as a pioneer of new systems to manage international travel during the pandemic. Before announcing the Hawaii testing program, YYC had already been piloting a program which would allow international travellers to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival at the airport and be released from quarantine in just 48 hours instead of after two weeks, providing the test result is negative. This program has been ongoing since November 2 and, if successful, will be rolled out to other airports in the country in coming weeks and months.
The potential reduction in quarantine times from for international arrivals in Canada from 14 days to 48 hours could have a transformative effect on travellers, making it much easier for Canadians to vacation abroad.
Combined with WestJet’s Hawaii testing program, it offers hope that Canadians can begin to look forward to international vacations without having to worry about lengthy quarantine period at either end of their trip.
Editors Note: Since publishing this news story on November 20th, Air Canada has also announced their partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart to offer pre-covid testing for Hawaii for travelers flying out of Calgary (YYC) and Vancouver (YVR)
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories
Article originally published November 20 with updates