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Tuesday, November 24th 2020

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YYC." - Chris Myden



2020
9
November
Calgary (YYC) Airport test program allows travellers returning to Canada to shorten quarantine to 2-3 days

YYC Calgary international airport quarantine program

By now you may have heard the news...

Test program at YYC airport allows passengers returning to Canada to shorten their 14-day quarantine down to 2-3 days

How it will work:

- Passengers arriving at YYC's international terminal will submit a rapid COVID-19 test. A negative test result will shorten the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those who have travelled outside Canada, down to 2-3 days, while they wait for their test result.

- Travellers who choose not to participate in the pilot program will have to abide by the normal 14-day quarantine.

- If you test negative, you must commit to a second test, on day six or seven after arrival, at a community pharmacy.

- You must stay within Alberta for 14 days after arrival.

- If the result is positive, the usual 14-day quarantine is still required.

- The test will be FREE (previously, there were rumors of a $150 fee. It turns out that was for a private service that is now available for essential travellers when *departing* YYC. And this private service happened to launch at the exact same time as this Alberta pilot program, causing the confusion)

- The pilot program will start Nov 2nd at Calgary Airport (YYC) and at the Coutt's land border crossing, and potentially be expanded to include other Canadian airports at a later date. It is currently scheduled to last 26 weeks, which would be May 3rd, 2021.

The fine print

- When coming home, you need to be arriving at Calgary's international terminal, which means Calgary is your first point of entry into Canada when flying home. If your flight home connects in Toronto, Vancouver, or another Canadian city it would not qualify for the test program, because you would be arriving at YYC's domestic terminal.

- After you land at YYC, you are allowed to catch connecting flights from YYC to other places within Alberta and still qualify for the program.

- Non-stop flights to/from Calgary (YYC) are pretty few and far between right now.

Here are all the international destinations that are available with a non-stop flight from YYC:

Denver (DEN) - United Airlines
Dallas (DFW) - American Airlines
Palm Springs (PSP) - Westjet
Phoenix (PHX) - Westjet
Los Angeles (LAX) - Westjet
Minneapolis (MSP) - Delta

Cancun, Mexico (CUN) - Westjet
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PVR) - Westjet
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (SJD) - Westjet

Amsterdam (AMS) - KLM

The Westjet flights to Mexico just restarted earlier in October. Delta's flights to Minneapolis just restarted in November. The rest have been operating for a while.

Calgary to Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR) keeps getting cancelled and pushed back (now scheduled for December).

Mexico does not require a negative test result or quarantine on their end.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2nd: The very fine print

As of November 2nd, the government just added a whole bunch of new restrictions to the pilot program, mainly involving where you are not allowed to visit for 2 weeks after returning to Alberta. This includes daycares, schools, long term care facilities, etc.

Pilot participants may also only return to work with the permission of the employer and if the employer has implemented COVID-19 measures in accordance with Alberta’s guidelines.

Pilot participants cannot attend events where there are more than 10 people (including the participant) for 14 days.

For a full list of all the restrictions and details, go to: https://www.alberta.ca/international-border-pilot-project.aspx

Common questions about the pilot program

What if I want to go somewhere else not listed above, but my flight home connects through one of the cities above, and then home to Calgary?

I have confirmed with the pilot program that as long as your first point of entry into Canada is Calgary (YYC), you qualify for the test program.

For example, if your flight home is Somewhere Warm to Denver to Calgary, it would qualify.

But if it's Somewhere Warm to Toronto to Calgary, it would not qualify, since Toronto is your first point of entry into Canada.

Basically, as long as your flight is arriving at YYC's international terminal, you qualify. If it's arriving at YYC's domestic terminal, you don't.

Here is the official reply from the pilot program when I asked them about this:

QUESTION:
Bob's flight: Cancun -> Denver -> Calgary
Jane's flight: Denver -> Calgary
Do Bob and Jane's flights both qualify for the program?
People aren't sure if you can have a connecting flight like Bob's and still qualify.

REPLY FROM PILOT PROGRAM:

Yes: They both have Calgary as their first point of entry into Canada, and they both arrive at YYC's international terminal. Flights to Calgary need to be international (AKA Calgary being the port of entry). Connecting flights from Toronto or Vancouver are domestic (and would not qualify), regardless of the full travel itinerary of the passengers. They entered through other ports of entry and then moved onto further destinations.

Can any airline qualify for the pilot program, or does it have to be with Westjet?

Some people were under the impression that it needed to be a Westjet flight to qualify. This is likely due to the fact that Westjet was instrumental in starting the pilot program at YYC.

I was pretty sure that flights with any airline would qualify, as long as it's an international flight with Calgary as your first point of entry into Canada (see above).

I asked the pilot program about this, just to double check.

QUESTION:
Can airlines other than Westjet have flights that qualify for the program?

ANSWER FROM THE PILOT PROGRAM::
There is no limitation on what airlines participate, however the current limits on what flights are offered from Calgary does hamper the number of airlines currently involved. That will likely change over time.

Do I need to register to be a part of the rapid testing pilot program at YYC?

Eligible travelers arriving at the Coutts land-border crossing or the Calgary International Airport can register to participate in the Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program by first completing the online form.

You can register up to 5 days before you plan to *arrive* at YYC or the Coutts land-border.

Online form link: https://travel.borderpilot.alberta.ca/

Step-by-step guide to participating in Alberta’s International Border Pilot Program

1. Determine your eligibility on the Alberta government's website at https://www.alberta.ca/international-border-pilot-project.aspx

2. Complete the International Border Testing Pilot program registration (this can be done up to 5 days before arriving back home at Calgary YYC).

3. Up to 48 hours before you fly back home to Calgary YYC, download the ArriveCAN app and submit your quarantine plan.

4. Use the CanBorder - eDeclaration mobile app to complete your customs declaration.

U.S. travel

The U.S. does not require a negative test result. Certain U.S. states are asking international travellers to quarantine upon arrival, but Colorado, Texas, California, and Arizona are not among them.

The air border between Canada and the U.S is open for non-essential travel. It's the *land* border that's closed for non-essential travel.

There's a fairly decent percentage of Canadians that think both are closed, mainly due to headlines like 'Canada / U.S. border closure extended' which are referring to the *land* border.

What about insurance?

Between March and June it was nearly impossible to find medical coverage for COVD-19. Most insurance companies were telling people 'due to the current travel advisory in place, coverage for covid is not available.'

But then around July we started to see market forces at work, and a couple of insurance companies started to offer coverage for covid, even while the Canadian government recommendation not to travel was still in place.

That got the ball rolling, and there are now 12 insurance companies offering medical coverage for covid-19.

Certain countries (Dominican Republic), airlines (Air Canada, Westjet, Air Transat, Sunwing, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic), and vacation package operators (Air Canada Vacations, Westjet Vacations, Sunwing Vacations, Transat Vacations) are also starting to include covid-19 insurance with their flights and packages.

Are there any great deals to anywhere that would qualify for this?

Westjet's non-stop flights between Calgary and Phoenix are currently between $213 and $227 CAD roundtrip, on dates between late November and April. Christmas and New Year's dates are available.

Westjet's non-stop flights between Calgary and Los Angeles are currently between $257 CAD roundtrip, on dates between mid November and April. Christmas and New Year's dates are available.

United Airline's non-stop flights between Calgary and Denver are currently between $213 and $227 CAD roundtrip, on dates between November 2020 and September 2021. Christmas and New Year's dates are available.


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Comments from Everyone Else

15 Responses to "Calgary (YYC) Airport test program allows travellers returning to Canada to shorten quarantine to 2-3 days"


    Has My been here?
       My on October 23rd, 2020

    Does anyone know if Canadians are allowed to transit through the US from a different country (not one on the no list though, so for example Mexico) on the way back to Canada?

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on October 23rd, 2020

    Hi My,

    Canadians are allowed to both transit in, and visit, the U.S., by air.

    The air border between Canada and the U.S has always been open for non-essential travel.

    It's the *land* border that's been closed for non-essential travel.

    Flying Canada -> U.S. -> Mexico is fine.

    Flying Mexico -> U.S. -> Canada is also fine.

    Has My been here?
       My on October 24th, 2020

    Thank you!

    Has Ben been here?
       Ben on October 24th, 2020

    My understanding is, it's $150 for the 2 day covid test used when ENTERING countries like Costa Rica where they request the proper paperwork...it's a private service, but for this Alberta pilot, I believe it's free...again, I'm not 100% sure, but nowhere do I see literature where they will charge $150 when entering back into Canada.

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on October 24th, 2020

    Thanks Ben! I'm not 100% sure either. In every article I've seen, they mention the private service for $150 (through DynaLIFE Medical Labs) that is now available for essential travellers when departing YYC. And this private service happened to launch at the exact same time as this Alberta pilot program for those flying into YYC.

    Just to note, Costa Rica is actually dropping their test requirement for entry, as of this Monday.

    Has Chris Myden been here?
       Chris Myden on October 25th, 2020

    I took a look through Westjet's tweet history, and they mention that there will not be a charge for this pilot program.

    Has My been here?
       My on October 27th, 2020

    If DynaLIFE is only available for "essential" travellers is there another way for non-essential travellers to get tested?

    Has Jennifer been here?
       Jennifer on October 27th, 2020

    You could try Ichor Blood Services, although they seem to have some relation to DynaLIFE.

    Has My been here?
       My on October 27th, 2020

    Got it sorted. For anyone interested you can get non-essential stuff done by Ichor, the test/results are the same as with DynaLIFE just takes a little longer to get results back I think.

    Has CC been here?
       CC on October 29th, 2020

    Ichor provides the appointment setup, collection, and notification but the actual test itself is done by DynaLIFE in Edmonton. I just had it done. And it was about 60 hours turn-around, so 2 days and a half. Sample collection on noon monday and got the results wed evening.

    Has RF been here?
       RF on November 5th, 2020

    So does, as a non essential traveler (someone hoping for a vacation) Is the short turn around testing covered by AHC or are private individuals expected to pay for the testing?

    Has Blake  been here?
       Blake on November 12th, 2020

    Hi Chris,

    Thank for all you do with this website. I have 2 quick questions for you about this program.
    1) I’m a Canadian flying home for Christmas and fly Frankfurt to DFW to yyc. Will I qualify for this test program since I’m entering YYC direct from DFW?

    2) Does my life partner, who’s a German citizen, qualify for this test program if she initially flys from Frankfurt or Düsseldorf via Amsterdam direct into Calgary?

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on November 12th, 2020

    Thanks Blake, I hope it helps.

    For question #1 - Yes, since Calgary is your first point of entry into Canada, the flight qualifies for the program. I recently e-mailed the pilot program to confirm this. I'll copy/paste their response below. And since you're a Canadian, you would qualify.

    For question #2 - If you look on the Alberta.ca website for the International Border Testing Pilot Program under 'Eligible travellers' it does state that a person needs to be a 'returning Canadian citizen or permanent resident', or 'a foreign national currently permitted entry into Canada (for example, immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents)' or an 'essential service worker'. So unfortunately it doesn't sound to me like your partner would qualify, unless they meet one of those definitions. The flight itself would qualify, since it's first point of entry into Canada is Calgary (Amsterdam to Calgary on KLM).

    Copy/paste of the response from the pilot program:

    QUESTION: Can my flight connect somewhere and still qualify? Do Bob and Jane's flight both qualify?

    Bob's flight: Cancun - > Denver - > Calgary
    Jane's flight: Denver - > Calgary

    Do Bob and Jane's flights both qualify for the program?

    My understanding is that yes, they both qualify, as they both have Calgary as their first point of entry into Canada, and they both arrive at YYC's international terminal.

    There are a lot of people out there who are under the impression that only Jane's ticket would qualify.

    I think this is due to the wording on certain websites about 'direct flights' being required.

    People aren't sure if you can have a connecting flight like Bob's and still qualify.

    RESPONSE FROM THE PILOT PROGRAM:

    Yes: They both have Calgary as their first point of entry into Canada, and they both arrive at YYC's international terminal.

    Flights to Calgary need to be international (AKA Calgary being the port of entry).

    Connecting flights from Toronto or Vancouver are domestic (and would not qualify), regardless of the full travel itinerary of the passengers.

    They entered through other ports of entry and then moved onto further destinations.

    Has Ben been here?
       Ben on November 15th, 2020

    Looks like WJ has now cancelled most flights leaving to Liberia for December now..wrecking our planned trip.

    Has Chris_Myden been here?
       Chris_Myden on November 16th, 2020

    Sorry to hear that Ben - Westjet and Air Canada have both been doing this, across the country. They're scheduling flights to a variety of destinations, but only resuming the route if they see enough demand. If there isn't enough demand, they push back the restart date by another month.

    Once they *do* actually resume a route they seem to stick with it (such as Westjet's flights from Calgary to Mexico, which have resumed). But up to that point, they're just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

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