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Frequently Asked Questions
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected visitation to Sable Island,
with many factors unknown or in flux. Please click here for more details...
Financial Considerations
How much does it cost to charter the aircraft to Sable Island?
View along runway For 2020, the cost for a tourist group to charter the entire aircraft for a flight to Sable Island, same-day return is $5800.00 CAD plus $71.00 (Halifax airport fees) plus $434.78 (Parks Canada flight support fee) plus $21.06 per person (park entrance fee) plus 15% sales tax (HST). For 7 passengers, this gives a grand total of $7,421.18. The good news is that if you take advantage of our Pre-Pay Cash Discount by paying in Canadian funds with cash or equivalent*, we will discount the basic cost by $300.00!
*e-transfer, money order, bank draft

Note: While sharing the cost amongst the group is acceptable, if the person chartering the aircraft sells any of the seats, they must contact Sable Aviation, as additonal seat re-seller charges will apply.

When is payment due?
For group charters of the aircraft, a non-refundable down payment of $1000.00 is due 30 days prior to the flight date, and the final payment must be made in full prior to boarding. Naturally, if we must cancel the flight due to weather, beach, etc you will receive a full refund.

What forms of payment do you accept from tourist groups?
We accept cash, e-transfer*, bank draft, or money order - all payments must be in Canadian funds. Payment may also be made by Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Sorry, but we are not set up for PayPal and cannot accept personal cheques.
* Some banks have a daily e-transfer limit (typically $3000), so payment by this method may require starting several days in advance; if the flight is cancelled, the full amount will be refunded.

Can I buy just a single seat on a flight?
We have 3 single seat sale flights left this year on 29-Aug (backup 9th), 26-Sep (backup 27th), and 17-Oct (backup 18th). Sorry, but all are sold out.

How much does a single seat on a flight cost?
The cost of a single seat on a same-day return flight is $1621.71 CAD ($1528.47 seat cost + $83.17 Parks fees + $10.07 Hfx airport fees) plus 15% sales tax (HST) for a total of $1,864.97 CAD per person (a $70 administrative fee will be applied if paying by credit card). You must be available to travel on both the primary and back-up date.

A non-refundable $150 deposit (plus $5 admin fee if paid by credit card) is required to book; full payment is required 30 days prior to the flight. Although all payments are non-refundable, they are fully transferrable (i.e. you find someone else to take your place). Transfer of funds in that case is left the individuals involved. If the flight is cancelled by us (due to weather, beach condition, etc) you will receive a full refund.

BN-2A Britten Norman Islander

Booking a Trip to Sable
When can I book my charter of the entire aircraft?
Although Sable Aviation flies the flights, it is Parks Canada who makes the schedule. They start accepting e-mail requests for charters for the year on Jan 1, immediately after midnight. Only week-end bookings are accepted for fixed wing flights, and with the limited tourist season (Jun through Oct) most week-ends are spoken for in only a few days, and in many cases, a few minutes.

When can I book a single seat on a flight?
Sable Aviation offers several flights each year on which single seats may be purchased. We must request our dates like everyone else, so we do not know what dates we have been assigned until we hear from Parks Canada in early to mid-January. We will post our dates on our web site and Facebook when we get them, and give a starting date for when bookings will be accepted. Seats will be reserved on a first come, first served basis via e-mail after midnight on that date - requests for bookings prior to that date cannot be considered. The reason we must be so strict in this regard is that there is a lot of competition for a very limited number of seats, and we want to give everybody an equal and fair chance. In 2020, 14 of the 28 seats were spoken for within the first 90 seconds!

Keeping Sable Safe
Are there any restrictions on items I can bring to Sable Island?
Sable Island is a remote and isolated destination, so it is important to avoid contamination from mainland species. All equipment brought onto the island should be clean prior to leaving Halifax - footwear should be brushed and washed; clothing, boots and backpacks should be inspected for any seeds or invertebrates (e.g. insects, spiders, ticks). No horseback riding gear is permitted, and clothing (excepting footwear) worn around horses or on a horse farm should be machine washed or dry cleaned and then stored for five days prior to your arrival. Any footwear worn on a horse farm or around horses may not be taken on the island. By taking special care when preparing for your trip, you can participate in the protection of Sable Island so it can be enjoyed for many generations to come.

What about the garbage generated by tourists?
Tourists that travel to Sable Island generally do so because they are in awe of this special place. For this reason, they tend to be cooperative and respectful when dealing with the island's fragile ecosystems. All garbage generated by tourists or the pilots is brought back to the mainland for disposal. Any recyclables left in the airplane are returned for refund, and the proceeds donated to a local charity.

Flight Information
My group wants to charter the aircraft to visit Sable - when should I book?
If you are chartering the aircraft for a group visit, the flight must be booked through Parks Canada by sending them a Visitor Registration Form with your requested date(s). For any given visitor season there are a limited number of travel dates available, so be sure and get your request in promptly at the start of the new year. Dates will not be assigned prior to Jan 1 of the year in which the flight is to occur.

How many people can the aircraft carry?
The aircraft can carry up to 7 passengers so long as the weight limit is not exceeded (see next question).

Is there a total weight limit for the flight?
Yes, the aircraft manufacturer has defined a maximum amount that the aircraft can safely and legally carry. This amount is 1400 lbs when carrying 7 passengers, or up to 1480 lbs with no passenger seats installed. These numbers are for operations with one pilot only, with two pilots, the weight will be reduced by approximately 200 lbs. While most flights can be operated single pilot, there will be rare occasions when aircraft configuration, scheduling, or duty day limits will require two pilot operations and the lower limit.

Do I get to pick my own seat or is seating assigned?
Due to the size of the aircraft and its weight and balance requirements, seating will be assigned by the pilot to keep the total weight distribution within acceptable limits. Please let us know your preference, though, and we will make every effort to accomodate your request.

When should we arrive at the airport?
It takes a while to weigh all passengers and their bags, perform the bio-security measures, and get briefed on the safety features of the aircraft, so for flights on which individual seats are sold, passengers are asked to arrive at the airport at 08:00. For flights in which the entire aircraft is booked by a group, please feel free to set a different time to meet.

When will we get airborne?
Departure from Halifax cannot occur until we hear from the Operations Coordinator on Sable that there is a safe area to land on the beach. This could be as early as 08:00, but is often later if the most recently used landing area is not suitable that day. In that case, they must search the entire 10 km length of the landing beach for an area that will meet the requirements for a safe runway. Sometimes there is no suitable area at all, and the flight will have to be rescheduled for another day.

Horse and Plane

How long can we stay on the island?
The length of time that visitors are allowed to stay is primarily based on time of sunset, other station operations scheduled for that day, and less often, changes in weather. While Parks Canada has the final word on how long a group may stay on the island, departure must occur prior to dark (i.e. not long after sunset). Also, if unforeseen weather deteriorations occur in Halifax, enroute, or on the island, the pilot may require an early departure to ensure the safety of the flight. While we will do everything in our power to avoid cutting your day short, weather in the Maritimes can change quickly, and the pilot's decision will always err towards the side of caution when it comes to flight safety.

How long will it take to fly to Sable?
In normal wind conditions (i.e. tailwind on the trip out, headwind on the return), the trip to Sable takes about 1:15, with a return time of approximately 1:45.

Are flights delayed very often?
Unfortunately, yes - flights to Sable are often delayed by a few days due to poor weather or unfavorable beach conditions. Flight delays of even a few weeks are not uncommon, and on a few occasions over the years, flights have been delayed for months. Tourist flights are assigned a week-end window on which to visit. If neither of these days ends up being suitable, and the following Monday is not already booked, you may be able to try again. Every year there are groups who simply do not make it out to Sable that year due to poor conditions - such is the nature of landing on a beach on a remote island in the North Atlantic!
Please note that station operations must take priority over visitor flights. While Parks will do everything in their power to avoid bumping you, there are times when equipment requirements, stranded personnel, etc may necessitate cancellation of your booking.

What time of the year tends to have the least number of delays?
Although the weather is unpredictable in this area of the world, historically, August seems to be the most "gentle" weather. That being said, the only constant on Sable is change - we used to also recommend the first of September as a good time to book, but over the last few years September and/or October have been dreadful, plagued with hurricane after hurricane. On the flip side, one year July was so dry as to render the south beach unlandable for almost the entire month. Spring and early summer are known locally as "fog season", but if you happen to luck into a good day, you will also be treated to one of the longest days of the year.

Are there standards and/or compensation for the sale of individual seats?
If you are denied boarding due to situations within the carrier's control (i.e. not weather, beach condition or pandemic) or your baggage is lost or damaged, you may be entitled to certain standards of treatment and compensation under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. For more information about your passenger rights please contact Sable Aviation or visit the Canadian Transportation Agency's website.

Horses on parade

Trip Details
What should I wear for my day on Sable Island?
Although you may want clothes for sunny weather, even in summer it can often turn cool on the island, so be sure and take a windbreaker and warm sweater. In late fall and early spring, your clothes will need to be warmer than you might expect - the wind and high humidity make Sable weather feel cooler than the numbers would seem to indicate.

Comfortable footwear is absolutely essential, as you will most likely be walking many miles in soft sand. Due to the coarse vegetation on the island and potentially semi-buried debris, flip-flops and similar footwear are not recommended. Sneakers or other shoes with a mesh upper tend to quickly fill with sand, so closed footwear is recommended.

Even on foggy or overcast days, the UV index on Sable can be very high, so along with sunglasses, be certain to wear a hat that will provide adequate sun protection, and don't forget your sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF rating. Don't forget, there are no trees on Sable Island, so the only shade available is under the wings of the aircraft.

What should I take with me on my day trip?
Obviously a camera is a must-have, but don't forget to bring along your water bottle, a hearty lunch and extra snacks - there is nothing like walking in soft sand to build up a good appetite! In addition to food, you may want to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer, tissues, and, as mentioned previously, sunscreen.

Although highly unlikely, the possibility of being delayed on Sable Island does exist, so if you are on any critical medication, you should bring at least a week's supply.

Can I drink the water on Sable or should I bring my own?
Sable Station uses treated well water, and the Parks staff will provide a jug of potable water beside the aircraft for your use throughout the day. Be sure and stay hydrated as you hike around in the hot sun.

Is there cell phone coverage on the island?
There is no cell coverage on Sable Island, so switch that smartphone to airplane mode and enjoy the peace of this beautiful location!

Are there any vehicles, such as ATVs, that I can rent to tour around the island?
No, due to the fragile nature of the landscape, vehicles are not available for rent, nor do visitors have access to station vehicles. All travel by Sable is on foot, starting from wherever the aircraft lands.

Can I stay overnight on Sable Island?
No, overnight stays are not permitted.

Grey seals