CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) has compiled a list of ten things that Ontarians should be aware of if they are considering travelling this summer – both inside and outside the country.
"Those who are considering booking a trip should make sure they understand the scope of what travel looks like at the moment," said Nadia Matos, manager external communications, CAA SCO. "The checklist for planning a trip has changed and we want to help people navigate this new environment.
"Airports are experiencing delays with varying degrees of impact, and Ontarians should be prepared."
Through consultation with its top travel agents, CAA SCO has identified ten key considerations that potential travellers may not be aware of.
Of course, nobody knows these tips better than travel advisors and CAA's list isn't limited to people living in Ontario.
All Canadians can benefit from the following expert tips, which agents everywhere are welcome to share with their travel-ready clients as the summer travel season ramps up.
Here's what the pros at CAA South Central Ontario are recommending to their clients:
1. Expect itinerary changes
CAA SCO travel agents say our members are experiencing schedule changes for flights. Subscribe to the airline's text message service to be immediately notified of any changes, and book connecting flights with more time in between than you normally would if available.
A travel agent is also a valuable resource if this happens.
2. Consider packing a carryon instead of checking luggage
Potential baggage delays mean that your luggage may not arrive with you or take extra time to be unloaded off the plane.
If you bring a carryon, make sure it fits the size requirements for all the airlines you are flying on, and with any tour operators. When using a carryon to travel, you still need to follow the 3-1-1 rule: three ounces of liquid, gel, aerosol, cream or paste that fit in one quart-sized resealable bag.
If you are checking luggage, make sure your carryon has your hygiene essentials, any medications, and a change of clothing.
3. Expect longer wait times at the airport
The old standby of being at the airport one hour before takeoff for domestic flights and two hours before international flights no longer apply.
CAA currently recommends arriving at the airport a minimum of two hours before domestic flight departures and at least three hours for international flights.
4. Make sure all your documentation is in order before you book.
Your passport should still be valid six months after your travel date, as this is required in several countries.
Passports themselves are taking longer than usual to renew, so it should be done several months before you travel.
Each destination has varying documentation requirements, so make sure you fully understand what information you need to have ready and in what format.
5. Buy travel insurance and understand what is covered
Make sure you have $5 million in coverage for emergency medical situations and that illness related to COVID-19 is included.
Understand your entitlements for situations like denied boarding in the event of a positive test, trip cancellation or delays, what luggage is covered and what isn't.
6. Car rentals need to be booked months in advance
High demand as well as a shortage of vehicles means a shortage of rental cars.
Some rental agencies, particularly on the east and west coasts, are not allowing vehicles to be rented in one city and left in another. A travel agent can help you navigate this.
7. COVID-19 is still a major consideration
Confirm the COVID-19 situation at destination prior to booking. Understand the risk level associated with travel to a particular destination by checking the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories website. Individual travel advisories remain on a country-by-country basis. It is important that Ontarians understand the ongoing uncertainty associated with international travel, whether that be related to the continued community transmission of COVID-19, or state of health care systems in destinations hit hard by the pandemic.
8. Stay connected
It is important to have access to trusted, up-to-date information while travelling so you can monitor changing conditions and requirements and adapt accordingly.
Bookmark the Global Affairs Canada website prior to departure and check it regularly while abroad. It is also a good idea to sign up for Registration of Canadians Abroad and stay in touch with a family or friend that has knowledge of your travel plans.
Find these and more information at http://www.caasco.com/travel.
9. Confirm change & cancellation flexibility with your travel service provider
Many airlines and hotels have been providing more flexibility when it comes to refunds and changes to bookings.
Make sure you understand any key dates related to cancellation and changes and whether you are entitled to a refund or a future travel voucher or credit at the time of booking.
10. Be patient, be kind
Around the globe, airlines are dealing with staff shortages and luggage handling back-ups. Keep in mind that the staff at the airports are there to help you, and that things may take longer than usual.