Calgary International Airport braces for busy summer travel season

The Calgary Airport Authority (CAA) and its partners are preparing for the busiest summer travel season since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CAA, more than 13 million passengers are expected to travel through the YYC Calgary International Airport in 2022 – up from 6.3 million in 2021.

“The travel experience is different than it was in 2020 and we are doing everything we can to help guests prepare to take some of the turbulence out of the journey,” Chris Miles, vice president of operations and infrastructure with the Calgary Airport Authority, said in a news release.

YYC began seeing a steady increase in travelers in April and May 2022. Last month, 1.3 million passengers went through the terminal, which is about 42,000 guests per day.

In July and August, about 50,000 are expected per day at YYC, according to the Calgary Airport Authority.

To help meet these demands and make traveling easier, YYC now offers a pilot program where guests can book a time to go through security screening, kids zones and quiet spaces where families can decompress and a new website page where people can access all the information they need in one place.

People can also turn to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which regularly shares carry-on packing advice, information for families, seniors and people with special needs, along with wait times for security screening. CATSA has also opened an additional screening lane at Pre-Board Screening D at YYC that will help get passengers through the security process faster.

“The more prepared travelers are, the easier it is for us to move them through security as quickly as possible,” CATSA spokesperson Sandra Alvarez said in a release.

Meanwhile, Calgary-based airline WestJet has hired more than 1,000 people across all operational areas, including its contact centre.

“This summer we are restoring our network in Alberta to pre-pandemic levels as we look to welcome back guests to travel,” Morgan Bell, manager of media and public relations for WestJet, said in a release.

“With many guests returning to the skies for the first time in more than two years, it’s important they give themselves extra time, plan ahead, prepare for the travel experience, remember to perhaps take a little longer, and to have patience for other guests and staff who might be traveling or working for the first time in many months.”

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reminds all travellers, regardless of vaccination status, that they must submit their information on the ArriveCAN app or website up to 72 hours before entering Canada. This is mandatory to avoid potential quarantine periods and fines.

“Travelers returning to Canada should be ready to declare all goods purchased abroad and have their receipts readily available,” said Chief Bob Talarico, the acting director of the Central Alberta District, Prairie Region for CBSA.

“Many people are traveling with pets, and pets need to be declared too in order to avoid delays.”

The travel demands are also adding to long waits and delays for people who need a passport.

The federal government has a new approach to get passports processed in a timely manner.

Passport offices in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are now prioritizing those who need a passport within 48 hours.

Service Canada says people with longer-term travel plans will be served at other locations.

The federal government is also creating a new task force to look into long delays at airports and passport offices.

The group, made up of a committee of cabinet ministers, will identify areas for improvement and make recommendations.

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