Despite looser rules, travel agent doesn't expect Canadians to start flying in large numbers

Despite authorities easing restrictions on international travel and airlines no longer requiring physical distancing on planes, at least one travel agent doesn't believe jet-setters will be taking to the skies in large numbers any time soon.

Glynnis Chen, owner of Happy Times Travel, said normally Europe is a favoured destination for Canadian travellers.

But even though Canadians are now allowed to fly there, she doesn't expect many will.

"It's a bad experience from the last couple of months. People have so much worry to travel together," Chen said.

Harman/CBC

Chen said many travellers have been hit by the spike in unemployment that's come with the coronavirus pandemic. Many travellers have health concerns as well.

For the past few months, Air Canada has blocked the sale of adjacent seats in economy class, and WestJet has done the same throughout the entire plane, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The carriers said Friday they will revert to health recommendations from the United Nation's aviation agency and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) trade group.

IATA called last month for an end to in-flight physical distancing rules, proposing a range of measures including some that run counter to federal government policies.

Officials in B.C. aren't convinced filling all plane seats is safe.

"We are concerned," said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. "[Planes are] a place where people spend a lot of time with one another."

Harman/CBC

But some travellers don't think it's a huge change.

Daniel Haber, wearing a mask, was getting ready to fly from Vancouver International Airport back to Montreal Tuesday.

He flew to B.C. when there was still some distancing on places but said that only amounted to having no one in the middle of the row.

"So I didn't feel like it was doing anything in the first place," Haber said of the previous protocols.

"I can't say I feel completely risk-free … What are we supposed to do?"