Edmonton travellers still going to Mexico despite advisory
People were still checking in for flights to Mexico at the Edmonton International Airport on Tuesday, despite a Canadian government advisory warning against travel there due to an outbreak of swine flu.
On Monday, the Canadian Public Health Agency advised travellers to postpone any non-essential travel to Mexico. It is not a ban, so Canadians are still free to go there if they choose.
Some of the people boarding an early morning Mexicana flight from Edmonton to Mexico City were travelling to meet work and business commitments.
Oil rig superintendent Corey Kozack said he's a little concerned but acknowledged this is the latest health scare he has encountered in a decade of travelling and working internationally.
"I've done the avian flu scare, the SARS and whatnot," he said. "Just take precautions. I've got my mask and everything else I need."
Industry consultant Doug Klementovich never considered cancelling his trip since he has business meetings set up in a couple areas of Mexico.
"My plans have not changed at all," he said. "I'll just wash my hands more than normal."
But not everyone at the airport was travelling to Mexico for work.
Alanna Brochu booked her trip to Cancun a few weeks ago. She said she isn't worried but still packed masks and hand sanitizer to use when she arrives.
"It's the flu. It's an influenza virus. I think we'll be OK," she said. "We'll wash our hands. We'll take all the precautions."
In Mexico, the suspected death toll from swine flu stands at 152.
As of Tuesday, Canada had 13 confirmed cases of the illness — including two just announced in Alberta and four in Ontario, officials said.
Canada's two national airlines announced they were cancelling flights to Mexico.
Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations are suspending all trips to Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta from April 28 until June 1st. Customers can rebook their vacations with no change fees, the airline said. Flights will continue to operate until May 4 to get people home.
Air Canada is keeping its flights to Mexico City, but customers with reservations up to May 6 can rebook or cancel without any penalty.
WestJet will cease its service to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on Monday. Flights to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta will resume on June 20. Service to Cancun is seasonal and will resume in the fall, the airline said in a statement.
WestJet travellers can postpone, rebook or cancel their flights without any penalties. The airline is also making additional flights available to get vacationers home.
A number of travel operators have postponed or cancelled trips to Mexico because of swine flu fears.
Transat AT announced Tuesday it will bring any customers and employees now in Mexico back to Canada and is postponing any flights into Mexico from Canada until June 1. Carnival Cruise lines has cancelled stops at Mexican ports for three of its ships. Sunquest Vacations is postponing all of its bookings to Mexico until June.
Edmonton travel agency owner Lesley Paull said her staff has been getting plenty of calls since Canada issued the travel advisory.
"The best thing to do is call your travel agent because we're the ones that are getting the updates every half hour, every hour," she said. "We have the right person to call, I think that's the easiest solution rather than trying to dial 15 different numbers and maybe not get the right person with the right answer."
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press