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Air Canada appears to be sending influencers on trips, despite advisories to avoid travel

Last Updated Jan 6, 2021 at 8:08 am PDT

FILE - Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Air Canada appears to have partnered with influencers in recent weeks to promote travel, despite the pandemic

Canadians are being urged to avoid non-essential travel to help slow the spread of COVID-19

Influencers have posted promotional videos and photos to their social media accounts from trips taken in December

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, appears to be paying social media influencers to leave the country for sunny destinations and promote their trips online, despite federal and provincial health guidelines that say we should not be leaving the county — unless it’s essential.

The revelation comes at a time many Canadians who have been adhering to COVID-19 restrictions are outraged some politicians left the country in recent weeks to go down south.

Over the past month or so, posts on social media from some top bloggers and influencers show these people taking trips “in partnership with Air Canada Vacations,” as first reported by the Globe and Mail.

“We’re going to be showing you guys what it’s like to travel again, what it’s like to be on the airplane, to be in Mexico, to be at a resort, and we’re going to be taking you guys along for the entire journey,” says Jennifer Fast, an Alberta-based Instagrammer, in an Instagram highlight posted to her account two weeks ago.

Her stories tag Air Canada Vacations, as well as Iberostar, a hotel chain with locations around the globe.

Fast documents her trip to Puerto Vallarta to her more than 85,000 followers. Her videos show her and her partner wearing masks, show flight attendants dressed in full PPE, and show baggage handlers sanitizing luggage, confirming this trip was taken amid the health crisis.

Influencers can make a living by promoting vacations and experiences on their social media platforms or blogs. These people often enter partnerships with major brands or companies to promote their products.

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Tiffany Lai, a Montreal-based Instagrammer, posted on Monday that she had just returned home from a “work-vacation”.

Like Fast, Lai also tags Air Canada Vacations in many of her posts.

On Dec. 28, she posted that she had “landed in paradise,” posting a photo from Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean.

“I’ve partnered up with @aircanadavacations and @dreamsresort to show a safe and cautious way of travelling for 2021,” she wrote at the end of December, noting travellers should know about regulations at their destinations if they do plan to travel.

The Globe and Mail also shows other influencers being used to promote travel — both domestically and internationally — despite the health crisis.

In a statement to the Globe, a spokesperson for Air Canada says, “At present, we do not have any new influencer engagements planned.” They did confirm with the paper that the airline does use influencers as part of its marketing.

A number of politicians have resigned from their posts in recent weeks after it was revealed they took trips for non-essential reasons through the holidays, all while their constituents were told to hunker down and do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The controversy has prompted changes to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, with the prime minister saying on Tuesday that the sick pay is not meant for vacationers forced to quarantine following a return to Canada.

“This program was created to give people sick leave if they needed it and otherwise wouldn’t have one from their employer. It’s not there to pay for someone’s post-vacation quarantine,” Justin Trudeau said.

The prime minister promised more details in the days to come but was clear: “Anyone who travelled for non-essential reasons would not be able to access the sickness benefit.”

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit offers people who have to quarantine for 14 days up to $1,000.

In addition to coming changes to the benefit, people arriving to Canada will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their return flight, as of Thursday.

This is in addition to the mandatory quarantine period.