Travel Disruptions: Your Questions Answered
1) Is it safe for me to travel through airports, given advice from the government is to avoid going to places where there are large crowds?
The government is advising against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, but there are currently very few countries that have formally closed their borders to travellers.
Although there is a risk of a virus being transmitted in any environment, airports and airlines across the globe are taking extraordinary measures to ensure their facilities are sterile.
If the risk of travelling was escalated, these facilities would be shut down until further notice.
We suggest travellers continue to monitor the government’s advisories concerning their intended destinations at these links:
2) Could I get quarantined at an airport even if I do not display signs of sickness?
There are countries that will quarantine unaffected passengers if they are arriving from countries who have recorded a significantly high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases such as (but not limited to) China, the Republic of Korea, Iran and certain countries in the European Union.
There is also a chance of being quarantined if you arrive on a flight with a sick person on-board.
Of course, local authorities reserve the right to implement procedures to protect all travellers on arrival, but the chance of being quarantined outside these parameters is currently minimal.
3) What happens if the border closes?
Individual governments would provide information on the procedures to be followed in the event their borders are closed depending on the scale of any outbreak.
4) What will happen to me if an airline decides to cancel my return flight to Canada?
If an airline cancels their flight they are required to offer an alternative option to facilitate your return, however those options will be limited to the availability and frequency of different routes and airlines in the region. This may delay your return, and entail long/overnight layovers in other cities.
Should you decide not to accept the airline’s option, you would have to arrange an alternative passage at your own cost.
5) Is it safe to go on a cruise?
The Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) update on March 9th indicated their priority is to protect all guests, cruise line crews and the communities where cruise lines sail. This includes more stringent boarding procedures, adding additional onboard medical resources and temperature screenings at embarkation.
Because viruses can spread quickly between passengers who are in close contact, the government has an advisory in place that recommends avoiding all travel cruise ships if possible.
6) What support can I get when I fall sick outside of Canada?
We cannot stress the importance of purchasing comprehensive travel insurance enough.
Most medical travel insurance plans will cover you if you get sick and some include emergency medical and repatriation, but as the COVID-19 virus is fairly new we strongly urge travellers to check their coverage with their providers before embarking on any trip.
7) My partner is afraid of increasing their risk of exposure by traveling on airlines and buses.
All major airlines are taking extra measures to reduce any risks. Local bus companies are also implementing similar procedures, but the extent of such measures will vary region to region.
Our advice is to follow the protection guidelines issued by government health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce risk in any environment.
8) If I cancel my flight or there is a travel ban placed on a country I wish to travel to,
will I get my money back?
Every airline has its own policy with regard to cancellation of flights which are destination specific.
Generally, with regard to cancelled flight and travel bans affected by COVID-19, major airlines usually offer to waive any refund and/or date change penalties.
These policies are being updated constantly as airlines react to the ongoing situation, so it’s best to check with your ticketing agency or airline if there is a policy in place and whether the policy allows a full refund.
Also, airlines have started offering a free date change and/or flexible cancellation options on new bookings. Ask your travel agent about these offers for your next trip.
9) What destinations are currently safe to travel to and would you recommend traveling to those places given the current situation?
Large parts of Africa still have no confirmed reports of COVID-19, and many Caribbean Islands and South American countries have reported cases in the single digits.
Other than China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, the US and some European countries, the number of fatalities from COVID-19 is relatively low or nil in the rest of the World.
There is a global effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, and all countries are issuing travel advisories to help travellers make informed decisions.
10) Are Gala Travel agents available 24/7 to assist when I am stuck at a destination, or need help with cancellation & changes?
We have always proactively supported all our customers throughout their booking process and journey 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
This level of commitment will be no different for our customers who need to change their travel plans or are facing challenges due to COVID-19.
Please Note: Information provided in this post was correct at the time of publishing on 16th March 2020.
If you have any further questions related to your travel plans, please do not hesitate to contact our agents at Gala Travels on: 905.940.4646 or 888.299.3252