Warning about flying back to Canada now (May 2021)

Be VERY careful about buying a plane ticket to Canada now.

I thought I would only have to do a 3 day hotel quarantine but after reading the Health Canada web site in more detail it turns out that I must do a a 14 day hotel quarantine (no leaving the room, they bring your food etc to your room).

I phoned several hotels and the lowest price I found is $268 Canadian plus tax.

For a 14 day quarantine that is over $4 000 Canadian dollars.

Ability to pay is not taken into account.

If you have proof that you arrived before the pandemic began that is also not taken into account.

In a nutshell: Not allowed into your own country if you don’t have $4 000 Canadian.

From what I can tell, the 14 days is required because my parents are over 65 (I cannot quarantine with people over 65) and because (from what I can tell) it looks like I would need to stay in a home that has only a very small number of people living there. Oddly, the web site does not provide an exact number (of people who can live there) but it looks like none of the places that I would be able to stay at would qualify.

The good news is that there will “soon” be an update on this.

Hope this may help some.


Sort of true given your situation, but not entirely true for everyone.


At this time, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you must book and pay for a 3-night hotel stopover before you arrive in Canada . You’ll stay at the government-authorized hotel while you await your arrival test results

So there are a few options:

  1. Book and Airbnb instead, or another hotel. The quarantine in Canada allows you to move between locations. Many hotels are actually offering special accommodations. Ie: Self-Quarantine Room Rates and Rooms for Self-Isolation | YWCA Hotel Vancouver

  2. Fly to a US City, and drive over the border. U.S. taxi services see business boost helping Canadians avoid hotel quarantine | CBC News. This avoids the hotel quarantine altogether. Bonus points, you can get the J&J vaccination for free in the US! Even if you aren’t American

  3. Fly in via Calgary first. As Alberta hasn’t signed an agreement with the Feds regarding Covid restrictions enforcement you won’t get a ticket if you don’t hotel quarantine. Alberta can't ticket travellers refusing to quarantine because it hasn't adopted federal act | CBC News

  4. Just wait. The Order in Council that mandates hotel quarantine is about to expire. There’s also a court chase challenging it scheduled for early June. The folks over at FlyerTalk are pretty informed on this issue: Canada Covid-19 hotel quarantine - FlyerTalk Forums


Thanks for this…
But my understanding is that the first 3 days must be at a government approved hotel. So no Airbnb nor another hotel for the first 3 days at least.

Also…even flying within Canada is likely to raise eye brows from border service officers. But I think one may not have contact with them at all (do not have to clear Canada customs) if one flies from say Calgary to Montreal. So in this case flying from Calgary to Montreal work. Just be sure to stay at least one night in Calgary.

I also wonder what quarantine America has for those flying in from abroad. The article you posted is of snowbirds (those already in America) but what about for those flying in from abroad? They may require those people to quarantine and may have regulations about letting them in (particularly if they are not American citizens).

Correct. You need to stay for 3 days at a govt approved hotel at the city you land in, then you can continue your journey.

Customs officers on a domestic flight? When was the last time you travelled ;).

Certain states or counties will have quarantine requirements but there is no federal quarantine law when entering the US. Otherwise, border is open as it usually is provided you come with a Covid-19 test.

Hmmm…it seems this would be difficult without spending at least one night in Calgary.

There is no enforcement of any quarantine anywhere in the US. You are required to provide a negative covid test (from no more than three days before take off) before you are allowed to board your flight. You are supposed to self quarantine in a number of states, but no one comes to check on you and there’s no penalty for noncompliance.

The J&J vaccine is one jab but only 60% effective. Even one dose of the two jab vaccines are closer to 80% or more effective two weeks after the first dose. If you have a choice, it makes no sense to get the J&J at this point. But that’s provided you have a choice, which not all states offer. Also, there’s no data on how long one dose of a two dose vaccine is effective for.

Isn’t the Canadian boarder closed to travelers entering from the US right now?

Either way, IMHO going through America is not a good idea.
You could catch the virus (look at how many Americans have it and how the numbers are rising).
For a snowbird who has been vaccinated the land border may be a good plan (presuming the land borders are open) but for someone not vaccinated it is probably not a good idea.
For the record, my objective is to warn people about the possible cost at this time and I am trying to find options (I want to protect myself and others).

Not really. Find a flight that arrives at Calgary (you’ll probably be going TPE - SFO - DEN - Calgary) in the late afternoon then grab a night flight out east. You could probably make the 00:15 for Toronto or the 01:10 for Montreal on Air Canada.

Canada actually has higher Covid rates at the moment. Plus, if you go through the US… free vaccine!

Are you sure they would give it to a Canadian?
And at the airport? Sorry if those are silly questions.

Never closed to commercial travel, Canadian citizens, or those with prior authorization to enter Canada (ie, family reunification) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and visitors to Canada: Uniting with family members - Canada.ca

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Sure. California, Texas, New York doesn’t make residency a requirement. Think about all the illegal immigrants in those states. They need the vaccine too. Getting Vaccinated For Free In The USA: Our First Impressions - Flytrippers

You would get it at a pharmacy like in the post above.

So my advice is book TPE - SFO, chill for a day, then go onwards to Canada. Or if you have a long layover (4.5hrs plus) you can probably find a pharmacy in San Mateo (where SFO is) to get the vaxxx.

Really interesting that Calgary is one of the cities/airports listed for accepting international flights for the 3 day quarantine (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary).
Supposedly you need to show your 3 day hotel quarantine payment (document) upon arrival.
I wonder if in Calgary they just don’t ask at all or do ask but can’t really do anything about it if you don’t have it.

Just an FYI, United’s TPE-SFO flight contains a technical stop in Guam due to the Novotel disaster. No passengers on or off, but an extra three hours in the air/on the ground to add to the trip

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For those following this thread:
Would you try to get around the 14 day quarantine?
I mean it exists for a reason and I would hate to spread the virus.

I called the Corona hotline and they said only need 3 days and the rest can be at home.

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You have to book and pay for 3 days at one of the government approved quarantine hotels in the first city you arrive in (Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal). The rest of the 14-day quarantine period can be done at home, at another hotel, at a friend’s place, etc. You have to have a suitable quarantine plan, so staying with elderly parents may not be allowed. If you really cannot afford the 3-day hotel quarantine, the officials might send you to a free government quarantine facility. They will first threaten to fine you, and they will ask you to borrow money from family or friends. Once the 3-day hotel stay is done, you can fly to another Canadian city if you want.
Source: I arrived back in Canada at the end of March, was sent to a free quarantine facility, and then was able to fly home.

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I’m hearing quarantine hotel is ~CND$2500 for 3 days. And some horror stories about no food for a day and no bottled water and they aren’t strict about room quarantine.

Some people just go straight home and pay $3000 fine.

It will be less than $2000 for one person. Calgary has the cheapest quarantine hotels. The food quality was atrocious at first, and is still bad in some of the hotels. In others the managers have stepped up their game and the food is OK. Look for recent reviews to check. The program seems to have been badly mismanaged, but it does appear to be improving. It sounds like if you just want to leave the airport and not go to a quarantine hotel, Calgary is not enforcing the fines. The other three cities are hit and miss.

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Free quarantine for 3 days or 14 days?