Some passengers on a Swoop Airline flight traveling from Toronto to Montego Bay ran into trouble at Pearson Airport on Tuesday morning when they were mistakenly told they needed a negative COVID-19 test to travel to Jamaica.
Andre Newell, a passenger on flight WO644, said in a statement that “dozens of families” were turned away after Swoop “failed to inform their staff of current COVID-19 travel policies.”
“When passengers arrived at check-in…they were shocked when airline staff told them they would need a negative COVID-19 test before boarding,” Newell wrote.
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Newell said Sloop “sent dozens of passengers” to the Switch Health counter to get a last-minute test for $70.
Swoop spokesperson Kelsey Trainor acknowledged the error in a statement sent to Global News.
“We are aware that some travelers booked on flight WO644 from Toronto to Montego Bay, Jamaica experienced difficulties checking in at the airport this morning due to miscommunication with our service provider at the airport. ground and we sincerely apologize for the disruption to their travel plans,” the statement read.
“The check-in process for this morning’s flight worked subject to Jamaica still requiring travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure to enter the country, despite the recently updated requirements.”
Trianor said there were 189 people booked on the flight and the majority provided proof of a negative COVID test “because they were unaware the requirements had changed”.
About fifty passengers were affected by the error and “have all been relocated or reimbursed”, she said.
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According to the Visit Jamaica website, as of April 16, a negative COVID-19 test before departure is no longer required to travel to the country.
“Jamaica will no longer have travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, as travelers to the island are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test to board a flight,” the website says.
Visit Jamaica said the decision to scrap the testing requirement was announced last Thursday.
“Despite the confirmation email sent to passengers indicating they are visiting the Travel Jamaica website, airline staff have refused to accept this proof when produced by multiple passengers,” Newell said. .
“When asked to show proof of airline policy, the airline could not produce documentation. They finally produced an expired update, dated March 1st.
Trainor said Swoop is “deeply sorry for the inconvenience and frustration this error has caused some travellers.”
Affected travelers were given the option of flying to Montego Bay or Kingston, Jamaica, on Swoop or WestJet on Wednesday, Trainor said.
“Those traveling tomorrow have also received hotel accommodations, transportation and meal allowances for tonight.”
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