In compliance with a decision made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the national government, WestJet will be suspending international flights for 30 days. This is due to the fact that Canada will be shutting its borders to non-Canadian citizens, with the exception of permanent residents, immediate family members of Canadian citizens, diplomats, aircrews, and US citizens.
“On Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, we will suspend scheduled commercial operations for all international and transborder flights for a 30 day period. To be clear, this means our final commercially scheduled flights from international and transborder destinations will launch on Sunday night by 11:59 p.m. local time” -WestJet Official Press Release
Suspension of commercial operations
The banning of foreigners and their entry into Canada is effective tomorrow night. However, the announcement gives an additional four days beyond the deadline. This is because Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and other select groups are still allowed entry. Therefore, even though there is a certain level of urgency, the additional four days will allow those groups to return home without feeling the same level of panic as previous announcements by other countries.
After the 22nd of March, WestJet says that it will be operating “rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government”. Tomorrow night, just before the stroke of midnight, the airline will cease to sell international and transborder tickets. This will last until Sunday March 22nd.
“…we are no longer sending Canadians out of the country and can instead focus on bringing them home.” -WestJet
Additional travel details
In a somewhat rare move, the airline says that in its efforts to assist Canadians in returning home on short notice, it is in the process of lowering prices on its remaining seats into Canada in all cabins. This follows reports of travelers have to pay around three to five times more for a flight as travel bans are imposed around the world.
Furthermore, WestJet will be reducing its domestic schedule by approximately 50%. This is perhaps to discourage the virus from being spread within Canadian borders as well as encouraging social distancing.
WestJet, along with many other airlines, has been inundated with shifting travel policies and the onslaught of customer service inquiries and demands that naturally follow.
In fact, we reported last week that the airline’s customer service had a 10-hour wait. Since then we have heard reports that the number has grown. Likely facing even more customer service requests and inquiries, WestJet has since removed the estimated-wait-time from its website in recent days. It now simply has an option to request a callback or chat with a “digital travel assistant”.
The airline’s latest press release and its messaging is clear: its main goal is to bring Canadians home. We hope that they can achieve this goal swiftly in the next few days.
Have you had to deal with WestJet in the last few days? Are you trying to get back to Canada? Let us know in the comments.