Repatriated Canadians thankful to be home, others scramble as flights dwindle
CALGARY -- Canadians still overseas might have to stay there during the COVID-19 outbreak as airlines wrap up their final repatriation flights at the end of March.
Sunwing had already wrapped up its flights as the last three repatriation flights from WestJet were set to arrive on March 25.
Air Canada and Air Transat still have a few more flights picking up passengers in Europe and Latin America over the final days of March.
Albertans arriving at Calgary International Airport this week were thankful to be home.
"It feels very good to be back in Canada. I feel secure," said Sherry Cantlon who returned from Mexico March 24.
"They were able to change (my flight) from April 22 to this repatriation flight," she said.
Upon touchdown, repatriation flight passengers are given handouts from Alberta Health Services on COVID-19 with information on how to self-isolate for two weeks. The 14-day quarantine for returning Canadians is mandatory under the quarantine act as of March 26.
Some countries are also doing thermal screening or taking the temperatures of arriving passengers, but Prime minister Trudeau said Canada is following medical advice to avoid those methods.
"One of the lessons learned from SARS is that it is simply ... not effective, the way people would like it to be and it can sometimes give a false sense of assurance," said Trudeau.
All returning passengers are given an information packet about self-isolation at the airport.
Some people are anxiously trying to get a seat on one of those last flights home
Natasha Anderson’s 15-year-old daughter Bethany is in Panama visiting her grandparents, and her mother was on hold with an airline for hours trying to secure a spot for her daughter.
Airlines have reported repatriating more than 300,000 Canadians in the last week.
More than 423,000 people have registered with Canadians Abroad.