Safety updates announced by WestJet recently include the potential for denied travel and a one-year WestJet Group travel ban for those who fail to comply with the airlines’ mask regulations.
The WestJet Group also announced the mandatory input of all guests’ contact information at online and kiosk check-in to help the Public Health Agency of Canada and the provincial public health agencies across Canada with contract tracing in the case of infected passengers on board its flights. The WestJet Group includes WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop.
Zero tolerance mask policy
On September 1, 2020, WestJet implemented a zero-tolerance policy in support of the requirement for all guests, over the age of two, to wear masks and face coverings. Non-compliant guests will face penalties including denied boarding, the return of the aircraft to the gate to offload the passenger, and the suspension of travel on any WestJet Group aircraft for up to one year.
“Canadian travellers and all of our WestJet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe and it is our utmost priority to do so,” said Ed Sims, The WestJet Group president and CEO. “Masks are mandated by our regulator and the vast majority of our guests are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying. This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don’t. Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines.”
Non-compliance on board the aircraft will be managed through a three-step process:
- Passengers will first be asked to put the mask on in a discussion with cabin crew.
- Passengers will be given a warning that masks are required, and compliance is necessary.
- Passengers will receive notice that non-compliance will result in follow up notification that they will be placed on a no-fly list for 12 months.
Since April 20, 2020, it has been mandatory for travellers to wear protective face coverings throughout their travel journey, including at the airport and while in flight and at the airport. As outlined by Transport Canada, travellers requiring an exemption to the regulation for health reasons must produce a certified medical note or they will be subject to the measures as outlined.
The carrier emphasizes that prior to flying, travellers must understand the current regulations and modifications to services in response to COVID-19. Passengers can eat and drink on board provided they replace their mask when finished.
Contact tracing enhancements
The carrier has also made inputting contact information mandatory at the 24-hour check-in process online and at kiosks for all WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop flights. Mandatory information at WestJet check-in kiosks will be phased into the policy change by the end of September.
Once implemented, guests will no longer be able to bypass the information screen and will be required to input up-to-date information prior to the issuance of a boarding pass. It is the responsibility of the traveller to provide accurate information.
“We continue to work collaboratively with our health partners to adapt our procedures,” added Sims. “A coordinated approach is essential, and we are advocating for contact tracing enhancements along with the introduction of testing.”
Commitment to transparent reporting
Since March, the WestJet Group has been fully transparent in advising the public of flights affected by COVID-19. Between March 23 and August 25, more than 725,000 passengers have flown on 19,370 WestJet flights. Of those, the airline has been notified of just over 230 flights where infected individuals have flown. This accounts for less than one percent of flights. Swoop has operated 1,070 flights with 103,000 travellers and has been notified of eight flights where infected individuals have flown, accounting for less than one percent of flights. There have been no reported cases of transmission on board any WestJet Group aircraft.