Canadian North “temporarily” suspends seat selection on many flights

Aim is to keep travellers departing from isolation hubs apart from other passengers

Canadian North passengers who have been isolated as part of the Government of Nunavut’s COVID-19 prevention measures will be separated from other passengers while travelling. “As a result, we have temporarily suspended advance seat selection on all northbound flights from Edmonton and Ottawa, as well as all Nunavut flights departing from Yellowknife and Iqaluit,” the airline said on May 13. (File photo)

By Jane George

Updated on May 14 at 11:05 a.m.

Air travellers in Nunavut continue to face more changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and if you like to sit by a window or prefer a seat located in the front of the aircraft, you may be out of luck.

On Wednesday, May 13, Canadian North said passengers could no longer choose their seats on northbound flights from Edmonton and Ottawa, as well as on all Nunavut flights departing from Yellowknife and Iqaluit.

That’s because the Government of Nunavut wants passengers who have been isolated as part of the COVID-19 measures to be separated from other passengers, wherever possible, while travelling, the airline said.

“As a result, we have temporarily suspended advance seat selection on all northbound flights from Edmonton and Ottawa, as well as all Nunavut flights departing from Yellowknife and Iqaluit,” Canadian North said on its website.

This means if you are booked to travel on one of these flights and have already made your seat selection, Canadian North may need to change it, to group isolated passengers together and separate those passengers from others.

“You will then be assigned a new seat at check-in or prior to boarding,” the airline said online.

Passengers are also supposed to stay in their assigned seat, even if other open seats appear to be available.

More than month ago, Canadian North dropped food, snack and beverage service to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Then, air travellers learned they must wear masks on all flights, as is the case throughout Canada.

But these changes pale compared to the schedule changes that saw Iqaluit-Rankin Inlet-Yellowknife and Montreal-Kuujjuaq-Iqaluit flights temporarily suspended in early April.

This was followed by a week-long suspension of service to Pond Inlet after a positive COVID-19 case was thought to have been confirmed April 30 in that north Baffin community. That case was later found to be a false positive.

But Canadian North wants its passengers to know that, with these changes, it has not tried to make life more difficult during the pandemic, but is aiming to protect travellers.

“Almost all the measures are out of our control,” said Dan Valin, Canadian North’s manager for marketing and communication. “We’re simply complying with directives given to us.”

No information was immediately available from Calm Air about whether similar changes to seat selection policies are now in effect, but that airline serves the Kivalliq communities from Winnipeg, which is also an isolation hub for Nunavummiut.

Clarification: Canadian North’s manager for marketing and communication, Dan Valin, reached out to Nunatsiaq News to provide the company’s perspective on the current suspension of seat selection on many flights.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Easy target on

    It’s easy to write a negative airline story but implications of this story is the airline is just trying to create hardships for passengers.

    Masks – Transport Canada made these mandatory for all carriers

    Pond Inlet – suspension of service was implemented by a Travel Ban by the chief medical officer

    Seat selection – again complying with the GNs request to distance people who are just out of isolation

  2. Posted by Terry on

    Which other travellers are traveling that arent being quarantined? And is this to protect the travellers that were quarantined? Which means those travellers shouldnt come up in the first place…

    • Posted by Essential worker on

      Essential workers are not quarantined through the GNs territory admission program.

      I’d want them away from me if I’d just spent 14 days in quarantine.

      • Posted by Okay on

        Should not everyone be quarantined? Even essentials workers more so, to protect them from infecting others in an essential setting like a medical clinic or small community.

        • Posted by robert on

          Reference essential or critical personnel. I am one of those and confined in Ottawa for 2 weeks then another 2 weeks only allowed from my place to work and nothing else so when i read that regs dont apply to us they do. and on top our work schedule will de deeply affected which will be very very hard for us. I dont see any difference for us.

  3. Posted by Joe on

    If the government really cared they would have quarantined people one day then essential workers the next day . Don’t they read the news that the ventilation system spreads the virus doesn’t matter where you sit . Just think you are on a small plane air circulates thanks concerned citizen that spends a lot of money out of pocket to fly

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