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Canadian airlines screening passengers for COVID-19
Published Wednesday, March 11, 2020 12:33PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, March 11, 2020 1:03PM PDT
Air Canada says it is screening passengers for illness at airports, and if you have symptoms, you may not be allowed to fly.
VANCOUVER -- If you’re not feeling well, it may not be the right time to fly. Canadian airlines are now taking measures to screen passengers for COVID-19 before they fly, and while they’re on board the plane.
In an email to customers on Wednesday morning, Air Canada said it is screening passengers for COVID-19 and other illnesses at multiple points at the airport.
The email said: “If a customer who appears unwell attempts to check in or board an aircraft, our agents will make inquiries of the customer in regard to their health. This can include consultation with our own Medical Desk and/or a third party health provider.”
The airline said if it has reason to believe the passenger is sick, it can refuse to let them on the plane.
WestJet is also able to deny boarding to those who appear to be sick.
“Should a guest present ill or fall ill during travel, our frontline teams and crews are trained to handle multiple scenarios and situations that can arise on the ground or onboard our aircraft and have access to real-time support of physicians at MedLink when requested. It is the crew’s duty to assess, refuse or move anyone who is exhibiting signs of not being fit to fly due to illness,” the company’s website states.
While screening passengers for illness is not new, neither airline has said exactly what additional criteria is being used to assess for COVID-19.
If you are told you can’t board a plane, air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs says you may get a refund for the price of your ticket.
“If the passenger is genuinely sick and cannot fly, in most cases the passenger would be entitled to a so-called "involuntary refund" as per the contract of carriage,” he says, but adds whether or not the airline is justified in grounding you is up for debate.
“‘Appear to be sick’ is insufficient grounds. If (passengers) have not been examined by a doctor, the airline may well be on the hook for breach of contract and significant damages.”