Despite the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential traffic, Canadian snowbirds Bernard Loiselle and Sylvie Charbonneau are on their way to Florida — in their RV, according to CBC.
“Finally, we’re going,” said Loiselle, 57, from a road stop near Albany, N.Y. “The weather in Quebec was getting cold.”
The couple from Marieville, Que., southeast of Montreal, live in their RV year-round and spend the winter in Florida. This year, however, they faced a problem because they can’t drive their mobile home across the United States border during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that problem was solved when they learned of a new service offered by Transport KMC.
The Quebec company flies snowbirds on a chartered plane from an airport just outside Montreal to nearby Plattsburgh, N.Y. KMC employees also drive the snowbirds’ vehicles to the Plattsburgh airport so, after landing, the passengers can continue their journey down south.
“It was great to — from the plane — see our RV down there, just waiting for us,” said Loiselle.
Despite soaring COVID-19 infection rates in the U.S. and Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad, many snowbirds are determined to head south this winter.
Although Canadians can’t drive to the U.S. due to the land border closure, they can fly to the country. But that still creates a problem for snowbirds who want to take their vehicles down south.
In response, several transport companies have come up with new ways to help snowbirds — and their cars — cross the border.
KMC ships vehicles to the U.S. sunbelt for snowbirds. But the fee can be prohibitive to transport an RV — around $4,300.
So, owner and president Michael Couturier devised a cheaper option: starting in late October, he arranged charter flights for snowbirds to Plattsburgh, plus transport service for their vehicles.
Customers pay $500 per seat on the plane and $1,000 for the vehicle transport. As a commercial transport company, KMC can bring vehicles into the U.S., despite the border restrictions, Couturier said.
“Every commercial transaction at the border is considered essential,” he said. “We’ve got to have all the paperwork, and then we are allowed to do it.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed to CBC News that there are no restrictions on Canadians importing vehicles to the United States during the land border closure.