Canadian flights to be unaffected by total solar eclipse, airlines say

TORONTO — Canadian airlines say travellers won’t see their flight times affected by Monday’s total solar eclipse, though passengers should protect their eyes during the astronomical event.

Air Canada says there won’t be any operational impacts when the moon casts a shadow over the sun in parts of Eastern Canada on Monday afternoon, though it did issue a reminder to staff not to look directly at the eclipse as it’s happening.

WestJet says it’s taken unspecified safety precautions, and passengers hoping to catch a glimpse of the shadowed sun out the window should bring their own protective gear to prevent eye damage.

Air Transat, meanwhile, will direct passengers to keep their window shades closed.

Transport Canada issued an advisory Tuesday reminding those in the industry that there will be a “rapid onset of darkness and twilight conditions” that could affect pilots.

In an email, a spokesperson for the government agency says pilots who are not authorized to fly when conditions affect visibility may face restrictions during the eclipse — but Transport Canada says that’s a minority.

“Commercial pilots and above are trained to fly at night, and if it was dark enough in the path of totality and you were landing or taking off, it might be similar to a night takeoff or landing,” said Mason Fraser, who teaches at Seneca Polytechnic’s School of Aviation.

“But your private pilots aren’t always trained for night operation.”

He said pilots flying toward the sun during the eclipse will just have to take normal precautions to ensure they don’t inadvertently damage their eyes, such as putting the sun shade down.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2024.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press