WestJet of Canada is tightening its policies of face-coverings and masks, following other North American airlines – by moving to a “Zero-Tolerance” policy.
This went live on the 1st September, covering any WestJet group airline (WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop). It requires all passengers over the age of two, to wear masks and face coverings. Non-compliant passengers will face penalties including denied boarding, return of the aircraft to the gate to offload the passenger and the suspension of travel on any WestJet Group aircraft for up to one year.
According to the airline, if passengers are found whilst not wearing masks aboard (except when consuming food and beverages), the non-compliance on board the aircraft will be managed through a three-step process:
- Passengers will first be asked to put the mask on in a discussion with cabin crew.
- Passengers will be given a warning that masks are required, and compliance is necessary.
- Passengers will receive notice that non-compliance will result in follow up notification that they will be placed on a no-fly list for 12-months.
Wearing masks has been mandatory with the airline group since the 20th April 2020, both onboard the aircraft and at the airport. Travellers requiring an exemption to the regulation for health reasons must produce a certified medical note or will be subject to the measures as outlined.
In addition, from the 1st September, you will be required to submit contact information when travelling on WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop. This will become mandatory at the 24-hour check-in process online and at kiosks. Mandatory information at WestJet check-in kiosks will be phased into the policy change by the end of September.
Openness and Contact Stats
It seems WestJet has been rather open with its numbers, with the airline producing the following statement below
Since March, the WestJet Group has been the only Canadian airline to provide full transparency in advising the public of flights affected by COVID-19. Between March 23 and August 25, WestJet has flown more than 725,000 guests on 19,370 flights. Of those, the airline has been notified of just over 230 flights where infected individuals have flown, this accounts for less than one per cent of flights. Swoop has operated 1,070 flights with 103,000 travellers and has been notified of eight flights where infected individuals have flown, accounting for less than one per cent of flights. There have been no reported cases of transmission on board any WestJet Group aircraft.
On the Zero-Tolerance Mask requirement, Ed Sims, The WestJet Group President and CEO said
“Canadian travellers and all of our WestJet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe and it is our utmost priority to do so,”
“Masks are mandated by our regulator and the vast majority of our guests are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying. This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don’t. Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines.”
On the contact information gathering
“We continue to work collaboratively with our health partners to adapt our procedures,”
“A coordinated approach is essential, and we are advocating for contact tracing enhancements along with the introduction of testing.”
Empowering the crews
As seen by the reports of a TUI flight where a passenger had COVD-19 and the airline didn’t enforce the wearing of masks on board (according to passengers). Empowering the crews to take the nasty decision of “No Mask = No Further Flights” could be seen by some as a heavy-handed approach.
Airlines will need to support the crews in these decisions – and that could be the hard part, especially with belligerent passengers aboard the aircraft.
However, as aviation tries to pull itself out of this hole, it may be the requirement needed to ensure passengers mask up as needed, to build passenger confidence.
Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond – Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, with in-depth coverage, unique research as well as the humour and madness as I only know how to deliver.