Recent Snowbird Travel between Canada & US

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Planning a quick get-away for warm, sunny weather in Arizona, or maybe you are a “snowbird” heading south for the winter?  Here’s a couple of quick tips we learned on our recent return trip from Abbotsford to Phoenix.

We flew on WestJet from Abbotsford to Phoenix through Calgary.  While we did not have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter the US, we did have to provide a negative Covid test result taken within 72 hours of departure to the WestJet check-in at Abbotsford Airport.  Even though we had electronic boarding passes, WestJet gave us new paper boarding passes confirming we had shown negative test results.

Returning to Abbotsford is when we experienced some new requirements, that, while not inconvenient, still needed attention.

We had to download and complete the ArriveCAN app on our phones within 72 hours of departure. 

You will be required to have your PAPER copy of your full, two-dose Covid vaccination confirmation.  Electronic confirmation of vaccinations will not be accepted. 

You will also need a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure. 

We discovered that, in the greater Phoenix area, Walgreen’s Pharmacy stores will provide Covid testing at NO COST, even to non-US citizens. 

Walgreen’s offer three different Covid tests – PCR; NAAT; and Rapid Antigen, each with different timing for test results.  We had the NAAT test, which is self-administered in the pharmacy drive through lane without leaving our car and results were back in several hours.  NOTE:  Rapid Antigen tests are NOT accepted for re-entry to Canada.   (See accepted testing for Canada at https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/exemptions )

At the WestJet check-in at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, we again had to show our PAPER confirmation of full vaccination, our PAPER negative Covid test results from Walgreen’s and were again given new paper boarding passes with the notation that our test and vaccination results had been reviewed. 

On arrival in Calgary we had to show our ArriveCAN receipt on our phones, then proceeded through Canada Customs and Border Services who again will check your PAPER confirmation of vaccinations and negative test results. 

Passing through to “Connecting Flights” in Calgary airport, we encountered something we had not experienced before. 

Before we were allowed to go to the gate for our connecting flight to Abbotsford, we were required to show our PAPER boarding passes for our flight from Calgary to Abbotsford AND we also had to show our PAPER boarding passes from our just completed flight from Phoenix to Calgary. 

Normally I throw out the boarding passes as soon as we are on the flight but for some reason, stuck them in my pocket.  This was something very new to us about having to show both sets of boarding passes and is something to be aware of if you are transiting through Calgary airport to your final destination in Canada.

As mentioned, nothing really inconvenient, but just some changes that you need to be aware of to be prepared for your next vacation. 

Happy and Safe Travels

Written by travel advisor Jack Bachman

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