On July 16th, our Content Marketing Manager, Ryan Adelson, had the opportunity to travel with Air Canada from Toronto to Montreal and back to discover their new protocols for COVID-19. She was also able to discover the new measures put in place by Pearson International Airport in Toronto and Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport in Montreal -- she shares the experience below.
Usually when I check in for a flight I'll use the Sam app, however, this was a special flight organized by Air Canada to showcase their new protocols as part of their CleanCare+ Program, and check-in was only available through their app or at the airport. I opted to check-in on my phone the night before using the Air Canada app, it was quick and easy and made the process at the airport the next day a lot smoother. Arriving at the airport, I put on my mask, went inside, bypassed the check-in desks and kiosks, and went straight to security.
Arriving at security, a CATSA officer took my temperature and then I entered the line. The process was very similar to before, however, I scanned my own boarding pass, there were markers on the floor to encourage distancing and of course, the staff and myself were wearing masks. It was a very quick process and it was great to know changes were made to accommodate passengers such as an increased allowance of liquids when it comes to hand sanitizer, with one bottle of 355ml of hand sanitizer allowed.
Maple Leaf Lounge
At the time of my flight, the Maple Leaf lounge was not open to the public, however it is now. The lounge has a very different look and feel then before. To start, the seating is much more spaced out in order to give passengers their space, as a result, it seemed as though there may be a bit less seating, making for a calmer lounge. The next thing I noticed was that the buffet and self serve drinks were no more -- in their place is a QR code on each table, which once you accessed through your smart phone, you can order food and drinks to be delivered to your table. Finally I noticed decals on the floor that encourage physical distancing throughout the lounge.
Of course, masks were required the whole time in the lounge except for when eating and drinking.
At the Gate
Arriving to the gate, I noticed that every other seat was blocked off for physical distancing and It didn't feel crowded at all. When it came to boarding, I was in zone 2 thanks to my status of 35K and therefore boarded at the beginning -- however, Air Canada has adopted a new boarding process for zones 3 to 8 having them board from back-to-front, window-middle-aisle. As I boarded I scanned my own ticket, showed my ID and I was on my way to board my first flight since March.
As I boarded the flight I was given a CleanCare+kit, the kit included a mask, gloves, hand sanitzer, wipes and small water bottle. I used the wipe to clean my seat and tray table and was very happy when it cam back white -- it's clear Air Canada is making an effort when it comes to their cleaning protocols.
The aircraft we flew on to Montreal was one of their new Airbus 220's, our flight was actually 2 weeks old! The configuration of the seats is 2-2 in business class and then 2-3 in economy -- I sat in the exit row on the side with 2 seats and was sitting next to someone for the flight. I felt very safe and comfortable on the flight as we were all wearing masks and everyone seemed to be respectable of each others space. It felt like a normal flight, except for the fact that staff and passengers were wearing masks.
Some of the things that made me feel comfortable on board were:
- The HEPA filters, which refresh the air every 2-3 minutes and capture 99.9% of airborne particles as it continually refreshes cabin air
- Knowing that Air Canada has partnered with Cleveland Clinic Canada who provide the organization with scientific information when it comes to new measures being implemented
- Seeing how clean the plane was thanks to thorough cleanings between every flight and the added comfort of having the CleanCare+ kit
After a quick flight, we arrived in Montreal where we would spend a few hours before returning back to Toronto. Usually when I'm getting off the plane, I'm one of those people who rush to get up grab my stuff and get off. This flight was different. Everyone was very polite and courteous, letting each row get up and disembark one at time. It didn't feel crowded, rushed or uncomfortable, which is typical during deplaning.
This was my first flight since March and I must say, I was very impressed with the efforts Air Canada have made. From the electrostatic disinfectant sprayers to the use of HEPA filtration systems, everything in their CleanCare+ program shows they're committed to end-to-end health and safety protocols trying their best to keep customers comfortable and safe. Should I need to travel, I wouldn't hesitate to fly with Air Canada again.