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WestJet Offers Rapid COVID Tests on Select Flights

WestJet Offers Rapid COVID Tests on Select Flights


It's been in the works for a while now, but a joint study with the Vancouver International Airport and Westjet are allowing passengers to take a Covid-19 rapid test. This comes shortly after United Airlines's announcement that they would be offering rapid tests on flights between Newark and London. As of Friday, November 27, passengers on select flights can opt-in for these tests. This comes due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in British Columbia. Three months ago, the province was seeing only a fraction of the daily cases it is now, up from around 15 to 20 cases a day to 600+ at the time of writing. In March of this year, the YVR expansion project was put on pause while the world dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic. Later, in September, plans to resume the project were cut and funds set aside for the project were re-allotted for projects such as this study. 

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
A Covid-19 testing pod on Sea Island, the YVR control tower visible in the background. Credit: Vancouver Airport Authority


Who can opt-in for these Covid-19 rapid tests?

First of all, tests are only being conducted for passengers boarding flights in a four-hour window, Monday to Friday, rather than choosing specific routes. As this is a study between the Vancouver Airport and Westjet, only those passengers on domestic Westjet flights departing the Vancouver Airport have the opportunity to take a Covid-19 rapid test. Additionally, people wishing to take a test must be between the ages of 19 and 80 years, be a resident of British Columbia, and also not have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in the last 90 days. Testing will only be available on the day of travel. 


How are passengers tested?


After confirming that they meet all the prerequisites required for testing, passengers need to register online at On arrival at the Vancouver Airport, guests will obtain their boarding pass and check luggage as normal. The test requires a minimum of 75 minutes before boarding. However, Westjet normally recommends arriving at least two hours before departure. After check-in, passengers then proceed to the testing area located in the YVR domestic terminal. The Covid-19 rapid test is taken via a nose swab and oral rinse. Results are typically available within 20 minutes, some of the fastest results in the country.


What happens when a passenger tests positive?


If a passenger tests positive, they are required to take further testing as the Covid-19 rapid test provided at the Vancouver Airport is not a medical diagnosis for the virus. Passengers who test positive are given a pamphlet by Westjet on how to reschedule or cancel their flight. They are also directed to take a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 test. 


What are the advantages of taking a Covid-19 rapid test at YVR?


Getting tested at YVR not only helps you and those around you, but it also helps researchers better understand the virus. So far, the amount of asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers is unknown or has only been able to have been estimated. People who don't necessarily have symptoms that volunteer for the test and test positive might give researchers and scientists more insight as to the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers. Additionally, taking a rapid test may shorten or eliminate the period you are required to self-isolate when entering some provinces or areas. For example, Westjet and the Hawaiian government have partnered so that passengers who test negative for the virus do not have to quarantine for 14 days when entering the state. This is not part of the study between YVR and Westjet.


A WestJet 737 rests at Vancouver Intl Airport. Credit: TheExplorerBlog | Thomas Westlake

What are your thoughts about Covid-19 rapid testing? Would you like to see this at your airport? You're invited to leave your thoughts and questions below!

Gabriel Shepherd
Just you're friendly Canadian (Vancouver) based aviation photographer! I tend to shoot photos at CYPK, CYVR and CYXX or whenever I'm on the road and I happen to pass by an airport!

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