Travel

How's the Pearson (YYZ) airport situation for U.S. bound flights?

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  • Jan 18th, 2022 12:44 pm
[OP]
Member
Jun 4, 2013
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GTA

How's the Pearson (YYZ) airport situation for U.S. bound flights?

We have a flight this week (Thursday 9am) to the United States. Wondering how earlier than normal we should arrive. We'll be checking in a bag as well.

Has anyone taken a flight to the U.S. lately, especially with Air Canada? How long did it take end to end?
55 replies
Jr. Member
Sep 19, 2019
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vancouver
I would arrive 2:30-3:00 early. The problem is the Canadian border right now. 4-5 hour wait after you land.
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Jul 26, 2018
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Canada, eh?
secretalcoholic wrote: Traveled mid-July.

No priority security lines, you're lumped in with the rest. But not a long wait, just that you gotta deal with normal security requirements like taking off your shoes and belts.

The long waits that most people are mentioning either on Twitter or Instagram or whatever are from airport counters. They seem to be very short staffed, and line ups can loop around the terminal. So if you need to check bags, print tickets, etc., be prepared for a long wait.

The advice here is, 1) don't check bags, 2) print out your own BP or use mobile.
I arrived an hour before departure and still had time to buy coffee and wait at the gate (30 mins) until boarding.
To add onto this, if you don't have Global Entry, expect a long wait at CBP as well.
[OP]
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Jun 4, 2013
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Bump.

Anyone travelled lately from Terminal 1 to the United States? How long was the wait?
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Jan 12, 2005
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I travelled via T3 to the US and it was empty during weekdays.
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Mar 30, 2004
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When I went two weeks ago for a 10:30 flight from Terminal 1 it was a ghost down. No line at security, no line at CBP.
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CheapDude69 wrote: I would arrive 2:30-3:00 early. The problem is the Canadian border right now. 4-5 hour wait after you land.
Yikes that long? When you say border I assume land border or do you mean the tarmac chaos as been reported on news lately?
"You can't soar with the eagles if you're hanging with the turkeys - Gary Kent
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GateGuardian wrote: I travelled via T3 to the US and it was empty during weekdays.
CorSter wrote: When I went two weeks ago for a 10:30 flight from Terminal 1 it was a ghost down. No line at security, no line at CBP.
secretalcoholic wrote: To add onto this, if you don't have Global Entry, expect a long wait at CBP as well.
thank you @secretalcoholic and OP thanks for starting this thread. I'm headed to teh US end of August as well after 4 years to see my fam, and I do have Nexus so was wondering if it's better than what the line up shows in news .

Has anyone travelled via Nexus card lately in the past month or two - how was the process as I remember there are self-service kiosks and then you see CBP officer etc.

I'm using my AP points to redeem against the flight fee (they were offering the same as Air Canada re flight changes/refunds before 2 hours if anything changes)

Any other advice etc. would be appreciated.
"You can't soar with the eagles if you're hanging with the turkeys - Gary Kent
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Sep 19, 2019
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TorontoEh wrote: Yikes that long? When you say border I assume land border or do you mean the tarmac chaos as been reported on news lately?
No this is when you land in YYZ by airplane. The Canadian border services cannot handle the traffic with all the new screening procedures they have. Expect to land, taxi to your gate, and wait on the airplane for up to 2 hours before deplaning and waiting in another 2 hour lineup to get to customs. This is not particular to any airline this is 100% the border that is delayed and they are forcing airline to keep the passengers on board. If you are traveling domestically you are good like normal.
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Canada, eh?
TorontoEh wrote: thank you @secretalcoholic and OP thanks for starting this thread. I'm headed to teh US end of August as well after 4 years to see my fam, and I do have Nexus so was wondering if it's better than what the line up shows in news .

Has anyone travelled via Nexus card lately in the past month or two - how was the process as I remember there are self-service kiosks and then you see CBP officer etc.

I'm using my AP points to redeem against the flight fee (they were offering the same as Air Canada re flight changes/refunds before 2 hours if anything changes)

Any other advice etc. would be appreciated.
Departing to US by Air
Since you have Nexus, you'll have GE. YYZ GE machines allow you to use Nexus card, but bring your passport just in case. No line ups when I departed to NYC.

Same process as before, scan card, answer on-screen questions, take photo, show slip to CBP officer, CBP asks you questions if any, on you go.

The line-ups you'll have are from security/CATSA, no priority lanes so they lump everyone in. But the maximum lineup time I've had was around 15 mins. Before you enter CATSA, an AC representative will ask for your signed CDC Attestation form for pre-departure US entry testing (i.e., Rapid antigen/PCR/etc.).

Returning to Canada by Air

This is where the lineups start, anticipate an additional hour or two (probably even longer now) customs processing even with Nexus when you return to Canada.

CBSA/YYZ has done a horrible job of separating Nexus holders and normal passengers, so you'll line up with normal passengers the moment you enter the airport after deplaning, and then it'll split off into 3 lanes once you take the escalator and pass the double doors to the CBSA area:
1. Unvaccinated
2. Fully vaccinated
3. Nexus (for both un- and fully vaccinated)

This part becomes dreadfully slow because most people don't realize that fully vaccinated = 14 days after second dose. Any time before that and you're considered unvaccinated. So tons of people get stuck here asking questions, deciding which line to take, etc.

For Nexus, you'll still show up at the kiosk, put your card in, answer on-screen questions, print out slip. Then you line up for CBSA, and this is the other bottleneck. CBSA will verify one by one on your ArriveCan info, ask to see pre-departure testing results, vaccination records (if not on ArriveCan already), that takes around 10 mins for each person, if not longer since some people don't have all that information.

After CBSA gives the ok, proceed as normal to baggage claim, then upon exit PHC gives you an arrivals at-home testing kit to take.
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secretalcoholic wrote: Departing to US by Air
Since you have Nexus, you'll have GE. YYZ GE machines allow you to use Nexus card, but bring your passport just in case. No line ups when I departed to NYC.

Same process as before, scan card, answer on-screen questions, take photo, show slip to CBP officer, CBP asks you questions if any, on you go.

The line-ups you'll have are from security/CATSA, no priority lanes so they lump everyone in. But the maximum lineup time I've had was around 15 mins. Before you enter CATSA, an AC representative will ask for your signed CDC Attestation form for pre-departure US entry testing (i.e., Rapid antigen/PCR/etc.).

Returning to Canada by Air

This is where the lineups start, anticipate an additional hour or two (probably even longer now) customs processing even with Nexus when you return to Canada.

CBSA/YYZ has done a horrible job of separating Nexus holders and normal passengers, so you'll line up with normal passengers the moment you enter the airport after deplaning, and then it'll split off into 3 lanes once you take the escalator and pass the double doors to the CBSA area:
1. Unvaccinated
2. Fully vaccinated
3. Nexus (for both un- and fully vaccinated)

This part becomes dreadfully slow because most people don't realize that fully vaccinated = 14 days after second dose. Any time before that and you're considered unvaccinated. So tons of people get stuck here asking questions, deciding which line to take, etc.

For Nexus, you'll still show up at the kiosk, put your card in, answer on-screen questions, print out slip. Then you line up for CBSA, and this is the other bottleneck. CBSA will verify one by one on your ArriveCan info, ask to see pre-departure testing results, vaccination records (if not on ArriveCan already), that takes around 10 mins for each person, if not longer since some people don't have all that information.

After CBSA gives the ok, proceed as normal to baggage claim, then upon exit PHC gives you an arrivals at-home testing kit to take.
Thank you so much for your detailed response! My goodness didn't even knew about the US attestation phew - I'm glad I caught that here. I thought the attestation was for minors travelling.
Wow so it seems the crowds and long wait times being reported 3+ hours are because everyone lines up in that main hall and Nexus won't even help up until later in the process.

Thank you again.
"You can't soar with the eagles if you're hanging with the turkeys - Gary Kent
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Dec 23, 2007
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Toronto
muscan wrote: We have a flight this week (Thursday 9am) to the United States. Wondering how earlier than normal we should arrive. We'll be checking in a bag as well.

Has anyone taken a flight to the U.S. lately, especially with Air Canada? How long did it take end to end?
How long did it end up taking you (or anyone else that has travelled recently) to go through bag check/security/US customs? We're in a similar situation, flying out to the US at 8am this Friday and trying to find some more recent data points to see if we're gonna need the full 3 hours for the early morning flight.
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BreakingThrough wrote: How long did it end up taking you (or anyone else that has travelled recently) to go through bag check/security/US customs? We're in a similar situation, flying out to the US at 8am this Friday and trying to find some more recent data points to see if we're gonna need the full 3 hours for the early morning flight.
why stress? just give yourself the 3hrs... what's an extra 30mins or 1hr even early to avoid stress? data points fluctuate by the day and time of day, whether you have bags, terminal etc.. . but you'll have better/more responses on flyertalk probably
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Mar 4, 2003
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Newmarket
Seems to be totally dependent on day/time/terminal/volume. I've heard a lot of horror stories, but when I flew in/out of terminal 3 last week, it could have not have been any faster. Luck of the draw.
Member
Aug 19, 2015
340 posts
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Ajax, ON
muscan wrote: We have a flight this week (Thursday 9am) to the United States. Wondering how earlier than normal we should arrive. We'll be checking in a bag as well.

Has anyone taken a flight to the U.S. lately, especially with Air Canada? How long did it take end to end?
I flew out to Orlando on Monday, August 13th on a 9:45 am flight, We got there at 3 hours before because I was worried about border/delays and so on. International side looked PACKED, but US entrance at Terminal 3 was smooth. No line ups at all. I checked it, got my bag tags, and then went straight through the scanners with little to no people in front of me.

i think the bigger worry is international travel and different testing requirements.
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Aug 19, 2015
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Ajax, ON
Here is a tip that I forgot myself to use and will use NEXT time no doubt. IF youre traveling with KIDS, i suggest you buy these things

https://www.amazon.ca/Portable-StoolFol ... ljaz10cnVl

My kids were TIRED , so this wouldve allowed them to sit as the line SLOWLY moved on the way to the CBSA.

My back was sore from holding my 8 and 5 years olds :(
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One thing to keep in mind. The Nexus lane in Terminal 1 is closed. Catsa has a priority lane setup for Nexus/Amex/Business class holders, but you have to wait in the same line to subject your affidavit and covid test.
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Jul 26, 2018
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Canada, eh?
smokescreen15 wrote: One thing to keep in mind. The Nexus lane in Terminal 1 is closed. Catsa has a priority lane setup for Nexus/Amex/Business class holders, but you have to wait in the same line to subject your affidavit and covid test.

Took them long enough to even have that 'priority lane' up...but would be better if they opened up the one behind sooner than later.
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smokescreen15 wrote: One thing to keep in mind. The Nexus lane in Terminal 1 is closed. Catsa has a priority lane setup for Nexus/Amex/Business class holders, but you have to wait in the same line to subject your affidavit and covid test.
Really? Unless this was recent, I travelled thru it last week, they won't even look at my Nexus, made us go through the same non-nexus protocols i.e. take your shoes, laptop, belt etc. We only saw one line for everyone in security area (unlike how when you enter the Customs there's 2 sections 1 for nexus 2 for non-nexus
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Jun 8, 2019
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Mississauga, Ontario
Just flew back to Pearson yesterday from the US, arrivals area is still a very busy zone. Customs hall was so full they made us wait in our plane for 20-30 minutes before they started releasing us in batches of 50 every 5 minutes. I've never seen the customs hall this packed, lines extending well before the roped queues. Thankfully things moved quickly. 2 hours from landing to exiting the baggage hall.

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