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WestJet offering no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance

Citynews 1130 Vancouver
FILE - A WestJet plane takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Vancouver on Monday, May 13, 2019. Federal transport officials have issued the first fines to air passengers who refused to wear face masks on Canadian flights, in violation of a government order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

WestJet will offer no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance for customers going to Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Europe

Coverage will be automatically applied at no additional charge

Canada's largest airlines have also agreed to a new set of rules to help contact-tracing efforts

CALGARY — WestJet will offer no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance for customers going to Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Europe, including the U.K., as of next Friday.

Coverage will be automatically applied at no additional charge and includes COVID-19 medical and quarantine costs. It is good for 21 days.

One-way travel to those destinations includes coverage for seven days.

“We know Canadians are seeking reassurance and our guests can now have confidence knowing they are protected against unforeseen medical costs related to the pandemic when choosing to book with WestJet,” Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet chief commercial officer, says in a release.

“Safety measures have been implemented across our entire travel journey and providing our guests peace of mind during their travels is worth the investment we are making to ensure the safest travel experience for our guests.”

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Three of 23 current COVID-19 exposures involving domestic flights in and out of the Vancouver International Airport happened on WestJet planes, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

WestJet and Air Canada previously relaxed physical distancing requirements onboard flights, despite opposition from health officials. WestJet then agreed to collect passenger contact information at  check-in and share it to assist in contact tracing, if necessary.

On Friday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Canada’s largest airlines have agreed to a new set of rules to help contact-tracing efforts should a passenger test positive for COVID-19.

Passengers will be asked to provide their contact information, such as an email or phone number, at check-in so local public health officials can get in touch if needed.

The agreement also outlines how air carriers need to hand over information quickly so the Public Health Agency of Canada can then post those details to its website.

The deal seeks to address concerns that information was incomplete, or too slow to arrive, to check whether the virus was transmitted between flight passengers.

The stumbling blocks during discussions this summer included whether phone numbers or email addresses were enough, or if details such as residential addresses should also be passed along.

Garneau says in a statement that the new, consistent approach for carriers to collect and share passenger information should lead to more timely contact tracing and exposure notification for passengers on domestic flights.