New air­port may en­tice tour op­er­a­tors to fly to Panama

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - TRAVEL -

AS you read this col­umn to­day, this travel guy is on his way to ex­plor­ing the beaches and sites on the gulf side of south­ern Florida. But the ques­tions from read­ers cover a wider ge­og­ra­phy.

Ques­tion: We took a trip to Panama with Transat in 2012. It was a di­rect flight from here to Panama. On the way there the plane wasn’t full. It was com­pletely full on the way back.

They didn’t of­fer di­rect flights from Winnipeg last year and won’t be this year ei­ther. I’m sur­prised by this es­pe­cially since they are build­ing an air­port right in Far­al­lon that is sup­posed to open in 2014 close to the ma­jor re­sorts.

We said we’d go back when that air­port opens, since it will save us the two-hour drive from Panama City. Do you think we’ll ever see di­rect flights to Panama from Winnipeg again?

An­swer: It was Transat Hol­i­days who first in­tro­duced the flight from Winnipeg.

Even then they had a bit of a strange launch, where it was at first sched­uled as a flight with a brief stop in Cal­gary.

This made no sense and they soon made it non-stop from Winnipeg. It was an ex­cel­lent desti­na­tion for those of us crav­ing new sunspot op­por­tu­ni­ties.

As you point out, some of the flights did fly full but it was not as suc­cess­ful as it should have been.

Per­haps Transat might have con­tin­ued it in sub­se­quent years, but they also went through a rough fi­nan­cial pe­riod. I sur­mise they were not about to take on more risk than they had too at the time.

The de­ci­sion proved right for Transat as they have re­bounded com­pletely with great prof­its re­ported for the last year. While it might be nice to hope they would re­in­sti­tute those flights, I am not hold­ing out any hope in that.

Your com­ments about the new air­port are valid.

I took the op­por­tu­nity to go to Panama in the year it op­er­ated and found the late ar­rival of the flight in Panama, plus the long bus ride to the re­sorts, very tir­ing.

The new air­port may mo­ti­vate one of the tour op­er­a­tors to re­con­sider the desti­na­tion.

In the mean­time, Sun­wing Va­ca­tions has in­tro­duced a new Winnipeg flight to the Grand Ba­hama Is­land, which be­gins its sea­sonal sched­ule next week.

Like any busi­ness, this desti­na­tion will only con­tinue to be ours if the tour op­er­a­tor feels con­fi­dent in a prof­itable re­turn over the sea­son it op­er­ates.

Ques­tion: Why is it that ev­ery time I take a flight to a sunspot desti­na­tion, the line­ups to get through se­cu­rity are im­mense and slow go­ing?

They know when char­ter flights are leav­ing so why are they not staffing

Trafal­gar Travel Talks

Come and join Wolf Pau­nic Trafal­gar’s Vice Pres­i­dent of Sales and Euro­pean Travel Di­rec­tor high­light some of Trafal­gar’s Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions. Join us for an in­spir­ing pre­sen­ta­tion on Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 15 at The Vic­to­ria Inn Ho­tel at 7pm. Please RSVP at www. trafal­gar.com/can/of­fers/spe­cialof­fers/travel-talk or call your lo­cal travel pro­fes­sional.

New York City

Em­bassy Tours in­vites you to an in­for­ma­tive af­ter­noon with Ash­ley Van El­s­lan­der of Col­lette Va­ca­tions fea­tur­ing our New York City group de­par­ture June 12-16, 2014. Visit Amer­ica’s most ex­cit­ing me­trop­o­lis…a get­away filled with shop­ping, sight­see­ing (by mo­tor coach), en­ter­tain­ment (in­clud­ing two Broad­way shows), and a 4-night ho­tel stay in the heart of the city. Pre­sen­ta­tion: Thurs­day, Jan­uary 16th, 1:30 pm at the Hen­der­son Li­brary, 1-1050 Hen­der­son Hwy. Please RSVP to Em­bassy Tours 757-9383, or em­bassy­tours@mts. net.

Cal­i­for­nia tour

Look­ing for a warm win­ter get­away? How does Las Ve­gas, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los An­ge­les and San Fran­cisco sound? Join us on Jan­uary 16 for a pre­sen­ta­tion on our Cal­i­for­nia Tour! Pre­sen­ta­tion be­gins at 2 p.m. at the Bronx Park Com­mu­nity Center, 720 Hen­der­son Hwy. Please RSVP to 204-989-7011 or 1-800-263-3691 or email us at info@fehrway­tours.com. Check our web­site www.fehrway­tours.com for up­dates. ap­pro­pri­ately for those de­par­tures?

An­swer: That is a fair ques­tion and I do think more could be done to ac­com­mo­date the flow of pas­sen­gers dur­ing th­ese peak pe­ri­ods.

At the same time, re­search sug­gests the se­cu­rity process is slower and more costly specif­i­cally be­cause of char­ter pas­sen­gers such as those that fly to our sunspot des­ti­na­tions.

A re­cent Euro­pean re­port con­cluded when it comes to sched­uled pas­sen­gers on reg­u­lar flights, only 10 to 15 per cent of them carry pro­hib­ited items, with about a third of them be­ing stopped for a re-ex­am­i­na­tion.

The re­port also pointed out up to 50 per cent of char­ter pas­sen­gers are not fol­low­ing the rules and need to be re­ex­am­ined.

While th­ese fig­ures may not be the same in Canada, there is lit­tle doubt those who travel only oc­ca­sion­ally will not be as cog­nizant of the poli­cies as those who fly reg­u­larly.

This not only slows down the process con­sid­er­ably but is also a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to higher se­cu­rity costs over­all.

Ques­tion: Do I re­quire any spe­cial travel doc­u­men­ta­tion other than my pass­port and Manitoba health card to visit Cuba? One site was sug­gest­ing a visa.

An­swer: As a Cana­dian hol­i­day vis­i­tor, you do not need a visa to en­ter Cuba.

Your pass­port is what is re­quired. A cou­ple of years ago there was a huge back­lash re­gard­ing a Cuban press re­lease that sug­gested peo­ple would have to show proof of sup­ple­men­tal insurance be­fore en­ter­ing the coun­try.

Ap­par­ently, many were us­ing the Cuban health-care sys­tem and the gov­ern­ment was not be­ing re­im­bursed for the ser­vices.

At first it ap­peared that even as Cana­di­ans we would have to show proof of ad­di­tional cov­er­age. That re­lease was sub­se­quently amended for Cana­di­ans to say you only had to show your pro­vin­cial health card if asked. That is all you need of­fi­cially. As I wrote in my col­umn last week, I have been con­sis­tent in ad­vis­ing those many read­ers who have asked the same ques­tion that, not­with­stand­ing the Cuban re­quire­ment, each and ev­ery per­son who leaves Canada on a va­ca­tion to sunspot des­ti­na­tions should al­ways carry sup­ple­men­tal insurance.

There are lim­its to what Cana­dian prov­inces cover. Spe­cialty air trans­porta­tion, which may be re­quired to re­turn a per­son back to Canada, as well as many other needs of the pa­tient, will not be cov­ered.

Sup­ple­men­tal cov­er­age is a frac­tion of the to­tal cost of the trip. Why peo­ple de­cline th­ese ex­tra cov­er­age pro­tec­tions con­tin­ues to be a mys­tery to me.

For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­neystravel.com. Ron Prad­inuk is pres­i­dent of Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­per­Centre and can be heard

Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found at www. jour­neystrav­el­gear.com or read Ron’s travel blog at www.that­trav­el­guy.ca. Please join Con­ti­nen­tal Travel Group, and spe­cial guest speaker, as we dive into our World Wars His­tory with an in-depth look at our Fallen Sol­diers Tour, tak­ing place in June 2014 to mark the 70th An­niver­sary of the DDay Land­ings. The full itin­er­ary is avail­able for view­ing on our web­site www.con­ti­nen­tal­travel.ca. Jan­uary 22nd 2014, 7pm-8pm, at the Con­ti­nen­tal Travel Group, 222 Os­borne St. North. A light snack will be served. RSVP to 204.989.8575 or email ctg@con­ti­nen­tal­travel.ca by Jan­uary 17th.

Been there, done that?

Bet you haven’t done this! This year join your ‘Top of the World’ spe­cial­ists, The Great Cana­dian Travel Com­pany, on an ex­clu­sive char­ter of a pri­vate schooner from Ice­land to Green­land. Ex­plore the pris­tine fjords and the myr­iad of wildlife as you re­trace the steps of the great ex­plor­ers on board this mag­nif­i­cent and tra­di­tional wooden ship. Join us, along with our Ice­landic part­ners for an in­for­ma­tional evening to learn more about this truly unique de­par­ture. Jan­uary 28, 2014 at The Great Cana­dian Travel Com­pany, 164 Mar­ion Street, 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm). RSVP chris@gc­travel.ca or 949-0199.

RON PRAD­INUK ASK JOUR­NEYS

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