Air Canada rigorously follows the relevant guidance of all health authorities and follows best demonstrated practices in the prevention and handling of communicable diseases in the air travel industry. In the last year, we entered a partnership with BlueDot, a third-party company that monitors infectious diseases all over the world and provides us with the most updated information to ensure we are equipped to make the best decisions in real time.
We have built on the recommendations of ICAO and other global organizations that a multi-layered strategy to COVID-19 safety is most effective. The Air Canada CleanCare+ program takes measures that overlap at all stages of the journey, in the airport, at the gate and onboard, to provide effective protections. Air Canada is continually evaluating new processes and technologies as they become available to further enhance safety.
Here are the answers to your questions:
Are pre-flight customer temperature checks mandatory for all passengers?
Customers (including children) on Air Canada flights are subject to an infrared temperature check. This non-contact procedure will be performed in the context of the existing government-mandated health questionnaire currently completed by travellers. Temperature checks are an additional layer of safety screening health authorities have advised fever is a common COVID-19 symptom.
If customers are found to have an elevated temperature (38.0 C and above – except for flights to Shanghai which has a temperature threshold of 37.3 C and above), Air Canada will consult with its medical experts before making a final decision, but elevated temperature in itself is not determinative. Customers who, after further confirmation and verification, are deemed unwell to travel will be rebooked at no cost and will be required to obtain medical clearance prior to travel.
Temperature checks are conducted using safe, non-contact, infrared devices which have been approved by many health authorities as well as Air Canada’s Chief Medical Officer. The units quickly and accurately measure the body temperature with an accuracy +/- 0.3 degree Celsius. They do not produce emissions nor is any data stored.
The temperature infrared reading devices are tested daily to ensure they are accurate, and batteries are replaced regularly. If an elevated reading is obtained, our protocol is to re-check with another temperature device. Air Canada’s reference is 37.5 deg C, which is consistent with other worldwide jurisdictions conducting pre-flight temperature checks.
I am on a full flight. What options do I have if I wish to have additional space onboard?
We are transparent about flights which are booked closer to capacity in Economy Class. Effective July 1, emails will be sent to Economy Class customers on such flights, in advance of check-in, and announcements will be made at the departure gate. Customers who prefer to travel on a different flight will have an option to change to another flight operating within three days or to the next available flight without additional fees. If you booked directly with Air Canada, you will also have the option to exchange your ticket for an Air Canada Travel Voucher, or for Aeroplan Miles with a 65% bonus, View full details here.
Air Canada follows the recommendations of ICAO and other global organizations that a multi-layered strategy to COVID-19 safety is most effective. The Air Canada CleanCare+ program takes measures that overlap at all stages of the journey, with increasing touchless and streamlined services being introduced at the airport, at the gate and onboard, to provide effective protections. Air Canada is continually evaluating new processes and technologies as they become available to further enhance safety.
Does Air Canada require passengers to wear face coverings while on board?
For the safety and well-being of our customers and employees, we require all customers to wear cloth coverings or masks over their mouth and nose while at check-in, during the boarding process and during flight on all Air Canada aircraft.
Customers should bring their own face coverings which will be verified prior to boarding all Air Canada flights and prior to security screening at Canadian airports. The coverings do not need to be medical masks - any face covering including a scarf or similar item is acceptable.
Customers will need to wear their face covering at the gate, where they will be required to lower it for identification purposes on photo IDs, as required by Canadian regulations.
While on board, customers are further required to wear their face covering at all times except to eat and drink or, in case of an in-flight emergency should the oxygen masks be deployed, or when, in the judgment of the crew, appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.
This requirement applies to all customers except for children under the age of 6 or customers who have a medical condition preventing them from wearing such a covering. This exemption will need to be verified and approved by Air Canada in advance through a medical certificate or Air Canada Fitness to Fly form. Click here for more details on how to submit.
What kind of safety items does Air Canada provide its customers onboard?
We distribute complimentary customer Care Kits which include: 30 ml hand sanitizer, 2 antiseptic wipes, disposable gloves, mask (non-surgical), 250 ml water bottle to all customers onboard all Air Canada and Air Canada Express flights.
For sanitary reasons, the bag used to package these Care Kit items also doubles as a trash bag to dispose any personal items.
What are Air Canada’s grooming procedures to eliminate the virus which causes COVID-19?
Air Canada has already been recognized by the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards for Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in North America. With the onset of COVID-19 we expanded our existing aircraft grooming procedures, which already incorporated the use of hospital-disinfectant and specialized techniques to maintain cabin cleanliness across our fleet.
We have additionally strengthened our industry-leading cabin grooming standards with the introduction of electrostatic spraying of cabin interiors.
All cleaning products we use including disinfectants are effective and fully approved for use by Health Canada.
As per PHAC guidelines and other resources, coronaviruses do not readily survive on soft materials (headrest covers, seat covers, carpets, etc.). However, these are replaced if soiled. If we are informed by an appropriate health authority that a potentially infected passenger has been on an aircraft, it is taken out of service for deep grooming as per PHAC guidance.
Can I be infected by the air in the aircraft if an infected passenger is onboard?
Our aircraft are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which effectively capture 99.9% of particulates from recirculated air in the aircraft cabin. This includes microbial organisms such as bacteria and viruses. These filters are similar to those used in hospital rooms and like hospital rooms, the air within the cabin is refreshed every 2 to 3 minutes for a total of 20 to 30 total air changes per hour.
What does Air Canada do if a passenger is identified as having travelled with COVID-19 post flight?
As with all communicable disease protocols, if someone tests positive for the virus after having travelled on a flight, Air Canada is notified by the appropriate health authority. Depending on the transmission profile of the disease, we are given strict protocol as to who is required for contact tracing.
The health authorities take responsibility for contacting passengers directly and advising them of the situation. In most cases, crews primarily working in the specific rows are also included in the contact tracing. Due to privacy laws, the names cannot be disclosed to anyone other than the public health authority.
To protect all those on board, if a customer exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during flight, Air Canada has well-established protocols and our crews are well trained to manage these situations. During flight, our Flight Deck crew also can directly contact medical authorities who can advise in real time. If determined necessary, health authorities will meet the aircraft to assess and follow up as required.
How does Air Canada ensure its employees are healthy and safe?
Air Canada is 100% compliant with all Transport Canada and PHAC health and safety directives for crews and employees, including for self-isolation. Any employee who feels ill or experiences any COVID-19 symptoms must stay home and seek medical advice.
We also require all customer-facing employees to use Personal Protective Equipment such as face guards, masks and gloves, and all employees have access to hand sanitizer. Our in-flight crew is also additionally provided with safety glasses and gowns.