YVR holiday crowds expected to be half of pre-pandemic levels

A sign directing travellers to COVID-19 testing stations is seen at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 13, 2021

RICHMOND, B.C. – In 2019, between 90,000 and 100,00 travellers passed through Vancouver International Airport per day during the peak holiday season.

It’s expected around 45,000 passengers will travel on those same days this year, with an ever-changing set of COVID-19 rules likely keeping many from attempting air travel.

“So we still have a long way to go to build back,” said Morgan Bell with WestJet.

The company’s advice for those who are travelling his holiday season? “We can’t stress enough for people to plan and arrive early, and for people to understand that the travel environment has changed,” Bell said.

All domestic and international air travellers aged 12 and older need to be vaccinated to board a flight in Canada. And many destinations require pre-departure testing.

“One of the most important things you can do is find out what the requirements and regulations are of the place you are going to. Many different places have different requirements, whether it’s a test or vaccine you need to be ready to produce,” said YVR vice president Robyn McVicker.

The United States requires a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure. There are several pre-flight testing sites at the airport.

“We are set up here at YVR from 5:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. that captures all of the departing flights, the morning rush for United and Delta and Westjet flights heading down, and then the afternoon flights as well,” said Graham Williamson with CVM Medical, which has a testing location in U.S. departures.

When British Columbians fly back to YVR from the U.S., they may be subject to random COVID-19 testing at the airport. It’s now mandatory for returning travellers from all other international destinations. They have to quarantine until they get their results, typically within 48 hours.

The ArriveCan app is also required to return to the country.

“We understand that travel is complex and a little bit more confusing for Canadian travellers,” said Bell, adding everyone is out of travel practice.

“Have patience with your screening offices, have patience with your border agents, have patience with each other, because we are all coming back into this.”

Source: CTV News