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Frequently Asked Questions
As of Oct 4, 2021, all passengers on tourist flights to Sable Island must be fully vaccinated!
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View along runway

Next Year
How do I book for 2022?
If you want to do a full aircraft charter, Parks Canada starts accepting reservations for flights in early 2022. We are not privy to the exact date, but they will put notice of it on their website, so start checking their site in Dec 2021. Be sure and get your paperwork in the moment that they start accepting requests, since the spots fill up in minutes and it's first come, first served, based on when your e-mail is received.

If you do not want to do the work of filling an aircraft and are instead interested in purchasing individual seat(s) on one of our flights, we will be posting those dates sometime in January or February. We do not get our assigned dates from Parks until January, and will open up for reservations some time after that, so start checking our website in early January. Again, you must make your request exactly at the start time, since we have seen it where over half the seats were sold in 90 seconds after the start.

Single Seat Sales
Do you sell single seats on a flight?
In 2021, we were assigned 4 dates for seat sale flights: 3-Jul (completed), 24-Jul (completed), 25-Sep (completed), and 23-Oct (back-up 24-Oct). The remaining flight has been sold out, but we are maintaining a standby list.

How much does a single seat on a flight cost?
The price for a single seat on one of the seat sale flights in 2021 is $2,080.00 CAD, including all fees and taxes (base rate $1,697.17 + $101.46 Parks Canada fees + $10.07 Halifax airport fees + $271.30 HST). If you pay in Canadian funds with cash or equivalent*, we will reduce the cost to $2,000.00 (includes all fees and taxes).
*e-transfer, money order, bank draft

You must be available to travel on both the main and back-up dates; a $150 deposit is required to book. Full payment is due 30 days prior to the flight, and at that point becomes totally non-refundable (unless the flight is cancelled by us due to weather, beach condition, etc). Although non-refundable, seats are fully transferrable; travel insurance may be a good idea (note that some insurance companies will not cover cancellations due to inability to comply with pandemic restrictions or contracting coronavirus).

We have not yet set our prices for 2022 but anticipate only a small increase.

What if I need to cancel due to pandemic restrictions?
No one knows what pandemic restrictions will be in place at the time of flight, so if you are from outside Nova Scotia, please consider carefully if this really is the best time for you to visit Sable. The reason that the 30-day payment requirement exists is so that if you cancel your reservation at that time, we will still have time to resell your seat, and will refund your deposit in full. If, however, you elect to pay the full amount on the due date, you will not receive a refund if pandemic restrictions (i.e. the requirement for mandatory self isolation) make travelling to Nova Scotia difficult. Naturally, if the National Parks close to tourist flights, everyone booked on the flight will receive a full refund.

Information on current travel restrictions for entering Nova Scotia may be found on the Nova Scotia provincial government site. For details on current pandemic protocols/restrictions, please see our COVID-19 page.

Charter of the Entire Aircraft
How do I go about chartering the entire aircraft?
Although Sable Aviation flies the flights, it is Parks Canada who makes the schedule. If you would like to be put on the standby list to charter the entire aircraft, please contact Parks Canada directly at or 902-426-1500.

Please note that neither Parks nor Sable Aviation accepts bookings for the 2022 tourist season until the new year. Once we start accepting reservations, though, seats and charter dates go very quickly (i.e. within minutes), generally selling out on the first day. Be sure and check the web site(s) in December to find out when bookings will be accepted.

BN-2A Britten Norman Islander

How much does it cost to charter the entire aircraft to go to Sable Island?
For 2021, the basic rate for same-day return flight to Sable Island is $6,200.00 CAD. On top of this, add $71.00 Halifax airport fees, $562.78 Parks Canada fees plus $21.06 per person park entrance fee, and 15% sales tax (HST). For 7 passengers, this gives a grand total of $8,028.38.

Tourist Special! If you take advantage of our Tourist Pre-Pay Cash Discount by paying in Canadian funds with cash or equivalent*, we will reduce the basic rate to $5,900.00 (full fees and taxes as detailed above still apply, giving a grand total of $7,683.38, all in).
*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 (i.e. at a profit), they must inform Sable Aviation, as additonal seat re-seller charges will apply.

Please note that we have not yet set our prices for 2022 but anticipate only a small increase.

When is payment due?
For tourist groups chartering the aircraft, a non-refundable down payment of $1,000.00 is due 60 days prior to the flight date, and the final payment must be made in full prior to boarding. Please note the down payment will not be refunded for any reason, including pandemic restrictions, nor will it be carried forward to the following year. If you have any doubt as to whether or not you will be able to make your booking, you should cancel the booking prior to the 60-day final payment due date. This time frame allows for any cancelled bookings to be filled by another group on the standby list. 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 between $1,000 and $3,000), so payment by this method may require starting several days in advance; if the flight is cancelled, the full amount will be refunded.

Flight Information
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, which means that all passengers and their baggage must not exceed 1400 lbs in total.
These numbers are for operations with one pilot only, with two pilots, the total weight will be reduced by 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.

Is there anything I can't carry on the flight?
There are certain items that in large quantities are classed as dangerous goods, but may be carried by individuals for personal use. These include things like lighters and e-cigarettes (one only in each case, carried on your person, and prevented from accidental activation), and spare batteries. All batteries must be prevented from shorting (i.e. taped over, or carried in their own individual baggie), but while standard AA/AAA batteries may be carried in your baggage, lithium batteries must be on your person.

Do infants need their own seat or can I hold them on my lap?
Unfortunately, due to seat configuration and limitations on safety equipment, we cannot carry infants (children under 2 years old). Sable Island is a backcountry-like experience, though, with no shelter, long days and sometimes rugged conditions. We do not recommend taking young children on this trip.

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?
If you have purchased a single seat on a flight, your organizer (Sable Aviation or Tour Operator) will inform you in advance of the flight when to meet at the airport (usually between 7:30 and 8:30). For flights in which the entire aircraft is booked by a group, please feel free to choose whatever time is convenient for your group - the aircraft is yours for the day. Remember that it will take a while to weigh all passengers and their bags, perform the bio-security measures, and get briefed on the safety features of the aircraft.

When will we get airborne?
After everyone has been weighed and briefed, we still can't depart from Halifax until we hear from the Operations Coordinator on Sable Island that there is a safe area to land on the beach. This could be as early as 08:00, but will be 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 this part of the world can change quickly, and the pilot's decision will always err towards the side of caution when it comes to flight safety.
Of course, if your group has chartered the entire aircraft, you are free to depart when you wish any time before that. Please remember to discuss your plans with the pilot before heading out for the day.

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 1:10, with a return time of approximately 1:40.

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?
Weather is unpredictable in this area of the world, and the only constant on Sable is change. We used to recommend August and September as the best months, however, in 2020 there was so little rain that the beach remained too dry to land for the entire month of August. In 2019, the beach flooded in September and no tourist flights made it out for that 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

Protecting Sable's Delicate Ecosystem
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.

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.

Grey seals

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, so be sure and bring a refillable water bottle.

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.