Even as we are entering the one period of the year when automobile travel is at its highest, for most of the year Manitobans tend to move from destination to destination by air, in winter for sunspot travel and in lesser percentages around the world the rest of the year.
It is perhaps no wonder, then, that on a regular basis so many of the questions I receive pertain to issues about air travel.
QUESTION: I notice that the NEXUS line at airports is always considerably faster. I have seen the name on the security check line many times but have not fully understood it.
How does a person apply to get into that program, and do you have to be a high-volume traveller to qualify?
ANSWER: While there are a number of personal criteria that must be satisfied for an individual to be granted a NEXUS card, there are no restrictions based on frequency of travel.
There is a $50 fee, but that is a small expense considering the amount of time you can save and the fact the card is valid for five years.
If you are applying with your spouse or partner, separate applications need to be filed and the fee must be paid for each individual.
For those who may not be aware, NEXUS is an official government program between Canada and the United States created on the desire to expedite the border-clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers between the two countries.
You can apply online or by using a paper application. Approval will take up to eight weeks.
Anyone who has been convicted of a serious criminal offence will not be approved. There is an option for those who have received a pardon for their past crime(s). Likewise, a previous customs, immigration or agricultural border infraction will also disqualify people.
Other than that, the questionnaire is quite simple so long as you have a passport and other appropriate proof of identification.
For complete information and application forms, go online at http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/nexus/.
QUESTION: I know from a recent Winnipeg Free Press story that Winnipeg's airport has been losing thousands of passengers every year to Allegiant flights out of Grand Forks.
They seem to be getting to be a fairly strong company all over the States. This may beg an obvious answer, but given their size is it part of their total marketing strategy to specifically target Canadian centres?
ANSWER: They are big, and getting bigger on the backs of Canadian consumers who find the savings sufficient enough to put up with the inconvenience of travelling the extra time to the border cities they serve across our nation.
To underline the point, Allegiant is in the process of launching a new Internet site that will have travel information in both our official languages.
On the site, they will also provide information on key cross-border airports that will include estimated driving times from various Canadian cities, plus a wide range of other interesting, if not valuable information.
Where should you stay? Where can you park? What are the food service outlets nearby?
The loss in revenue does not affect the airport alone.
When travellers cross the border, they will often gas up their automobiles, buy liquor, and even stay extra days in the border community for shopping or entertainment.
Winnipeg and the rest of Canada will continue to see an increasing drain from our economy unless all the players can finally get together and deal seriously with all the issues, instead of pointing fingers at each other about the problems.
QUESTION: I notice that when water is supplied on flights, it is almost always poured from a bottled product.
It seems to me that the amount of these plastic products going into landfills every year must be huge.
Wouldn't it be more responsible and less expensive for the airlines to have onboard canisters of the same treated water we drink every day, instead of creating this unnecessary waste and expense?
ANSWER: While that is likely a good idea, it should be recognized many countries do not have the same standards for drinking water as exist in Canada and the United States.
It was only recently the Canadian government updated a 60-year-old law relating to stricter rules to make sure all water used for drinking, food preparation, oral hygiene and hand washing is safe on aircraft as well as trains and ships.
The new guidelines would still allow for tap water to be used, but it would be subject to strict testing. The way the law is written almost makes a case for the use of bottled water since if tap water is used, airlines and the other passenger carriers would have to sample and analyse the water for E. coli on a regular basis.
The United States already has similar legislation in place, so adherence for airlines who serve that market are already adhering to the new Canadian policies.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.