Deep discounts on airfare enticing Canadian travellers

Canadian airlines are offering deep discounts this summer, likely with the hope of reigniting interest in travel.

With much of the population now vaccinated with their first shot, many are ready to climb aboard and head abroad.

Elaine Schacter will be Vancouver-bound in mere-months. By mid-September, she, along with her 96-year-old father, will visit family on the west coast.

“My brother hasn’t seen his granddaughter yet,” says Schacter. “It’s been way too long for us to see family and close friends.”

To fly from Toronto to Vancouver, return, will cost Schacter $231 with Air Canada and for $93, Flair Air will take her from Ottawa to Toronto, return.

“The prices are rock bottom,” says Schacter. “It’s rock bottom.”

The low cost to travel, has more Canadians thinking it’s time to fly once again.

“It’s been crazy the past two months,” says John Ostris, manager at Centrum Travel. “People are booking fall and winter. People have credits from last year, prices are great, seats are going, and we’ve now got an uptick in people travelling this summer in Canada, especially Alberta and B.C. and even business travel overseas to Europe.”

Ostris says the travel agency has rehired staff and has added two more members to maintain demand. He does not expect the business to slow down anytime soon.

Airlines continue to require masks on the plane as well as pre-boarding questionnaires and temperature checks. Anyone arriving internationally is required to stay at a hotel, be tested and quarantine for two weeks.

Federally, there are no restrictions when flying within Canada; however, each province has its own rules.

On Tuesday, Manitoba premier Brian Pallister announced a vaccine passport. Residents can apply for the card two weeks after receiving their second shot and with it, they will not be required to isolate for 14 days when returning from interprovincial travel.

“You will exempt from the self-isolating requirements if you are deemed a close contact by public health,” says Pallister. “If you get call from public health notifying you that you have been in close contact with COVID, because you have this card and because it’s evidence that you have been vaccinated twice, you won’t have to self isolate as a result.”

More provinces will likely begin relaxing regulations soon and Dr. Frederic Dimanche, director with the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University, says now is the time to book because low airline costs are in place to increase demand.

“It’s a strategy to get people to start thinking and talking with their family and friends and say, 'Hey, look at those prices,'” says Dimanche. “But I think it has two objectives; one is to sell tickets actually, but the other objective, probably, is to get people to start thinking about travel again. Airlines want them to feel comfortable, we want them to feel confident about travelling again because we have not been; we have been very leery about travelling and we have been told for months now that it’s unsafe, we shouldn’t travel, to stay at home.”

Dimanche adds that while the prices are rock bottom now, as more Canadians plan their summer and fall vacations, the travel industry will rebound and so will the cost of an airline ticket.