Travel and Swine Flu

Overview of major tour operator rebooking policies

Travel and Swine FluIn light of the travel advisory to Mexico issued by Foreign Affairs, most major Canadian tour operators have cancelled their service to Mexico until early June. Details and rebooking policies are outlined below:

Air Canada Vacations
Following a travel health warning issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada recommending travellers postpone all non-essential travel to Mexico, Air Canada Vacations will suspend all operations to Mexico until June 1, 2009.

Passengers booked for travel to Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta with Air Canada Vacations between April 28 and June 1, 2009, inclusive, can rebook their holiday with no change fees.

Travel can be to any destination or resort offered by Air Canada Vacations and customers are responsible for any price differential resulting from the selection of a higher-priced alternative.

Customers may rebook their travel by contacting Customer Care at 1 800 296-3408 or through their travel agent. Travel must be completed by October 31, 2009.
Please note flights will continue to operate as scheduled to bring home all passengers presently in Mexico until May 4.

Air Canada Vacations is looking to add more capacity to other destinations to respond to market demand.

Air Canada Vacations will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide further travel updates as developments occur.

Transat Holidays & Nolitours
Transat A.T. Inc. has postponed its flights to Mexico until June 1st and is bringing its customers and employees home.

As a result of the World Health Organization’s decision to raise the level of the swine flu alert to Phase 4, and following directives issued by governments because of the appearance of swine flu in several countries, Transat A.T. Inc. is postponing its flights from Canada to Mexico until June 1 inclusive, and from France to Mexico until May 31 inclusive. This decision applies to flights operated by Air Transat or other carriers. Transat is maintaining its return flights as planned until May 3, and will be adding other flights according to an as-yet-unspecified schedule in order to bring home its customers, passengers and employees now in Mexico.

All customers of Transat and its business units Air Transat, Transat Holidays and Nolitours (in Canada) or Vacances Transat and Look Voyages (in France) who were scheduled to fly to Mexico between now and June 1 can change their travel plans, with no additional service charges, in accordance with the
following guidelines:

  1. Travel on a later date: passengers who wish to travel on a later date can do so. The trip must be completed on or before October 31, 2009. If the price of the new package is higher than that of the trip originally planned, the passenger must cover the difference in price. If the price of the new package is lower than that of the trip originally planned, there will be no refund.
  2. Travel to another destination: passengers who wish to travel to a different destination can do so by selecting another destination offered by Air Transat, Nolitours or Transat Holidays or in France by Vacances Transat and Look Voyages. The trip must be completed on or before October 31, 2009. If the price of the new package is higher than that of the trip originally planned, the passenger must cover the difference in price. If the price of the new package is lower than that of the trip originally planned, there will be no refund.

Transat is currently planning additional flights to other destinations to accommodate travellers.

Passengers currently in Mexico should seek information, since some return flights, after May 3, will be moved forward and schedules could be changed depending on the situation. Travellers should therefore contact their destination representative and look for signs to this effect in their hotel (usually in the lobby). Transat’s websites will also be updated as soon as flight schedules have been finalized.

Sunquest
Sunquest, part of the Thomas Cook Group Canada, has issued the following information April 28…

We appreciate that our customers are concerned about travelling to Mexico at this time due to the cases of Human Swine Influenza. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, have now issued a travel warning against all non-essential travel to Mexico. Therefore, Sunquest has taken the decision to not operate our programs to Mexico, effective immediately, however at present we plan to resume our operations after June 4, 2009.

The following policy will apply to all Sunquest Mexico bookings between April 28 and June 4:

For those passengers departing from now to June 4, 2009 (inclusive):

  • You may change your booking to any other Sunquest destination, including the ALBATours Italy program, for travel anytime up to Oct. 31, 2009;
  • You may cancel your booking and receive a travel credit for the amount, which must be used before Oct. 31, 2009 to any destination Sunquest or ALBATours offers;
  • You must pay any price difference if the cost is higher;
  • There will be no refund for any difference in rates if the cost is lower;
  • Travel must be commenced by the end of October 31, 2009;
  • These changes must be made through our call centres

We recommend that customers also check with their travel insurers, as you may have coverage for this type of incident.

We will continue to monitor this situation and will keep you advised.  We would ask those who are travelling on later departure dates to be patient as this situation evolves.

Please note, we will continue to operate our flights to collect all passengers currently in Mexico. We will advise if there are any changes by our airline partners.

Signature Vacations
As of April 28th, Foreign Affairs has issued a Travel Advisory recommending that Canadians defer non-essential travel to Mexico. As a result, our flight operations to Mexico have been postponed until June 02nd. Return flights will operate as scheduled for customers currently in Mexico completing their vacation between April 29 – May 03. We are providing customers originally scheduled to depart to Mexico from now until June 02nd the following options:

  1. Change to another available date or destination on a departure from now until October 31, 2009. Please note that customers will be required to pay the difference if the new applicable price is higher than the original.
  2. Defer travel plans and receive a travel credit valid towards departures from now until October 31, 2009.

We are working with our airline partner to provide additional availability into alternative destinations and will post updated information at 2:00pm EST on April 29th. Please contact your travel agent to review your options.

Sunwing

As of 3:00 pm EST April 28th, Sunwing has provided the following up date to the Mexico travel program.

Further to the recent travel advisories issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding travel to Mexico, effective immediately Sunwing is delaying all departures scheduled to operate to Mexico until May 29, 2009. The following options are available to Sunwing passengers currently booked to travel to Mexico between April 29 and May 28, 2009:

  • Clients may switch their holiday to a different destination.
  • Clients may cancel their holiday and they will receive a Sunwing travel credit, to be applied to a future Sunwing holiday by October 31, 2009.
  • Any alternate travel arrangements must be concluded by October 31, 2009.
  • All changes to bookings must be processed through the Sunwing call centres in either Toronto or Montreal.
  • If the alternative vacation selected is a higher price than the holiday originally booked, clients must pay the difference in price.
  • If the alternate vacation is a lower price than originally paid, no refund will be issued.

As more information is received from Canadian and Mexican authorities Sunwing may modify its policy as the situation warrants. For clients who are booked to travel on later departure dates please visit the Sunwing website at www.sunwing.ca for any updates.

WestJet Vacations
In light of increased concern regarding the spread of the human swine influenza virus in Mexico, WestJet and WestJet Vacations will cease service to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, effective Monday, May 4, 2009. Service will resume to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on June 20, 2009. Service to Cancun, a seasonal destination for WestJet, will return in the fall schedule.

All guests who were scheduled to fly to Mexico between now and June 20, 2009, can make the following changes to their travel plans with no change or cancel fees:

  1. Travel to the same destination at a later date once service has resumed;
  2. Select another WestJet destination up to the same value of the currently booked travel;
  3. Request a Future Travel Credit (FTC). This FTC can be used for any WestJet destination, is fully transferable and is valid for one year from date of issue;
  4. Request a full refund to original form of payment.

“We certainly understand and empathize with the upheaval this represents for our guests,” said Sean Durfy, WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer. “Ultimately, we have made this decision for the safety and well-being of our guests and our WestJetters.”

WestJet will be contacting all guests currently in Mexico to inform them that additional flights are being made available to expedite their early departure.

The following toll-free numbers are available for guests looking to change their travel plans:

  • From Canada and the United States: 877-953-9234
  • From Mexico: 001 800 514 7288
  • Those guests having difficulty contacting WestJet using toll-free numbers may call collect 403-539-7800.

Please note, the above rebooking guidelines will be updated as new information becomes available. For more information on Human Swine Influenza, travellers may consult the Public Health Agency of Canada at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca or the World Health Organization at www.who.int.




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