Travel

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

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 18th, 2022 12:44 pm
Member
Aug 19, 2015
356 posts
268 upvotes
Ajax, ON
tman74 wrote: 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.
2 hours is still decent . Some folks did 3+
Member
Mar 1, 2007
280 posts
207 upvotes
GTA
TorontoEh wrote: 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
This past Friday. No difference for Nexus for security, then the machine, then to the same lane as everybody (very few people). At some point an employee emerges, sees the Nexus receipt in my hand and brings me to the front of the line. 10 minutes max for all.
Newbie
Apr 20, 2014
64 posts
12 upvotes
Edmonton, AB
Going to NYC end of this month and have a 2 hour layover in YYZ before my connecting flight. Given the delays mentioned, should I be worried about this? Should I try to switch to a flight option with longer layover?
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 11, 2005
9296 posts
1647 upvotes
TO
tman74 wrote: 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.
Oh jeez, I guess I should be ready than for more traffic on a Friday afternoon flight arriving at Pearson around 4-5PM. I wonder if its just the layout of the airport/concourse or they can't handle the traffic coming in (who knows if it'll get worse now that international visitors are allowed to visit I think sometime soon)...
"You can't soar with the eagles if you're hanging with the turkeys - Gary Kent
Member
Mar 6, 2018
218 posts
216 upvotes
Just came back from the US two days ago. I left Pearson on Aug 25 for Denver. The 3-hour wait time is real. I had about 20 minutes left before getting to the gate for boarding. Don't stress yourself out by taking a chance. Get there early and if you have time to spare get a coffee or stare at your phone.

As for coming back from the US, the Denver airport had much longer lines than Canada but moved way faster (possibly better staffed). Just echoing the previous poster, when I arrived in Canada the PA announced they would let connecting flights passengers get off first (made sense as they had to race to their next gates). It took 1.5 hours to go through customs and luggage claim.

Overall a smooth first experience for me. If you know and follow all the guidelines (testing and filling out ArriveCAN), there is not reason to stress out as you will have known all of the expectations.

Happy travels!
Deal Guru
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Sep 6, 2002
10546 posts
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This sounds terrible. CBSA settled their strike what’s with this poor management of Canada’s busiest airport. They took out the testing on arrival. What’s with punishing nexus users? No air Canada priority line? Travelling sounds like such bull shit these days

Also the airport had the right idea separating vax and non vax. Not sure why they backed down on that one

All this bullshit makes it sound like it’s better to fly into Buffalo and take a taxi to Canada. Sounds like it’s faster than arriving in Pearson (yes yes I know not many direct flights to Buffalo)
Autocorrect sucks
Deal Addict
Jul 26, 2018
1781 posts
2827 upvotes
Canada, eh?
Great…I have to fly 3 round trips for work to US next month. Going to be fun going through 3 hour+ long line ups even with Nexus.
Deal Addict
May 8, 2004
1104 posts
33 upvotes
Thanks for sharing the experience. Got a flight booked for two weeks time and hearing about these long horror stories at YYZ is making me reconsider if I want to deal with all the hassle. I’ve read stories of up to 6 hrs waiting after arriving at YYZ.
Member
Aug 19, 2015
356 posts
268 upvotes
Ajax, ON
GangStarr wrote: This sounds terrible. CBSA settled their strike what’s with this poor management of Canada’s busiest airport. They took out the testing on arrival. What’s with punishing nexus users? No air Canada priority line? Travelling sounds like such bull shit these days

Also the airport had the right idea separating vax and non vax. Not sure why they backed down on that one

All this bullshit makes it sound like it’s better to fly into Buffalo and take a taxi to Canada. Sounds like it’s faster than arriving in Pearson (yes yes I know not many direct flights to Buffalo)
Agreed. What’s the deal? Everything gets uploaded before , soon reality it shouldn’t be THAT long. I don’t what that’s their problem
Member
Aug 19, 2015
356 posts
268 upvotes
Ajax, ON
Col127 wrote: Thanks for sharing the experience. Got a flight booked for two weeks time and hearing about these long horror stories at YYZ is making me reconsider if I want to deal with all the hassle. I’ve read stories of up to 6 hrs waiting after arriving at YYZ.
Do you have kids or are you travelling with them.

I’d say it’s worth it. Just being some water, snacks. Enjoy life, don’t let this derail you Thumbs Up Sign
Deal Addict
May 8, 2004
1104 posts
33 upvotes
Vako636 wrote: Do you have kids or are you travelling with them.

I’d say it’s worth it. Just being some water, snacks. Enjoy life, don’t let this derail you Thumbs Up Sign
No kids, just travelling on business. Well, sitting in a plane or holding room for hours doesn't sound too appealing to me.... :P I'm expecting it to be worse with international travellers starting to come to Canada starting today too!

It's a shame there's no priority lines for AMEX holders or NEXUS holders. :(
Sr. Member
Nov 28, 2017
802 posts
814 upvotes
Any recent experiences with connecting flights in YYZ?

I have an aeroplan redemption coming connecting from YXU, but it is a 2 hour connection both ways, but I am worried both about a connecting flight being canceled, and about whether they will fast track connecting travellers through us customs quickly enough to get me on my flight.

I ought to be able to switch it to direct, but I dont want to be paying airport parking if I don't have to.
Deal Addict
Jul 30, 2015
4071 posts
3348 upvotes
Toronto, ON
GangStarr wrote: This sounds terrible. CBSA settled their strike what’s with this poor management of Canada’s busiest airport. They took out the testing on arrival. What’s with punishing nexus users? No air Canada priority line? Travelling sounds like such bull shit these days

Also the airport had the right idea separating vax and non vax. Not sure why they backed down on that one

All this bullshit makes it sound like it’s better to fly into Buffalo and take a taxi to Canada. Sounds like it’s faster than arriving in Pearson (yes yes I know not many direct flights to Buffalo)
What's the border wait time like for Nexus at Niagara? I might just do this next time.
[OP]
Member
User avatar
Jun 4, 2013
456 posts
493 upvotes
GTA
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.
I flew to U.S. from Canada (and back) twice in the last two weeks. Just returned today from my 2nd trip.

Here's my experience from the 1st trip:

We got to YYZ about 2.5 hours before the flight at 9:30am (we had to check-in bags). The security lines were extremely long and if it wasn't for my U.S. citizen kid, we could have missed our flight. Please arrive early for flights. I think 3 hours sounds about right as many people on this thread have said. Because of the U.S. citizen with us, we were able to bypass the long line. There was hardly anyone in the U.S. citizen line. Nobody asked us for Antigen tests. Air Canada agents just asked for the attestation. U.S. immigration was smooth. I was asked reason for visit (visiting family in my case) and that was it.

The return had a bumpy start. The clueless Air Canada agents at the U.S. airport had no knowledge of the exemption from PCR testing for people who recovered from Covid in the 14-90 day period before the flight. The agent simply could not understand it even though I was showing her the official government website. She just let us go with a warning that we may experience issues upon arriving in Canada (which I knew was false). Upon arriving in Canada, we made it to the customs/immigration counter pretty quickly (the lines were short) only to encounter a CBSA officer who didn't quite understand why we had positive tests from before 14 days (and not negative ones). He escorted us to Public Health of Canada who very suprisingly were also acting like they weren't sure how to process us although they let us go after knowing all the adults were fully vaccinated. They also for some reason apologized to us (I'm assuming for all the confusion and lack of knowledge on their part). I'm just shocked that no one from the airline reps, border officer and the public health folks were knowledgeable about exemptions to the pre-entry tests.

2nd trip:

I used my Nexus on this one as I was travelling alone. My family doesn't have Nexus so couldn't use it in the previous trip. I arrived 1.5 hours from my 6:30am flight. The American Airlines agent was also clueless about CDC's exemption for those who have documentation of recovery from Covid-19. She called her supervisor who asked for a "doctor's letter" even though I had provided them Peel Public Health's release of isolation letter (which meets CDC's requirements as they clearly say it could be a letter from a doctor or a public health official). After wasting a few minutes arguing with the supervisor, I was allowed a boarding pass. Security lines were full but not too long. Terminal 3 has a smaller intake area as well. Using Nexus, I was through the U.S. customs/immigration fairly quickly. It didn't take more than 30 minutes for the entire process leaving me enough time before boarding.

My return flight was with Air Canada and the agent was less clueless than the others but still had to be educated on the Covid recovery exemption. This time they made an issue about how my Ontario positive test (from before 14 days) did not have my last name. I told them it's from the government of Ontario!! Then off she went to the supervisor. I was asked to produce my health card so they can verify the last 4 digits on the test. I was given a boarding pass after this. After landing at YYZ, they allowed 50 passengers to get off at a time under some holding protocol so I was in the plane for a good 30 minutes. Using Nexus, the customs and immigration part was smooth and fast. CBSA officer did not ask for a PCR test this time, only looked at ArriveCan -- which was a relief!
Member
Mar 1, 2007
280 posts
207 upvotes
GTA
Returned from the US through Billy Bishop (YTZ) yesterday. The whole thing from deplaning to exiting the airport was completed in 15 minutes (Nexus or no Nexus, did not really make much of a difference). So happy I chose this over Pearson.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 20, 2018
7653 posts
6828 upvotes
GangStarr wrote: This sounds terrible. CBSA settled their strike what’s with this poor management of Canada’s busiest airport. They took out the testing on arrival. What’s with punishing nexus users? No air Canada priority line? Travelling sounds like such bull shit these days

Also the airport had the right idea separating vax and non vax. Not sure why they backed down on that one

All this bullshit makes it sound like it’s better to fly into Buffalo and take a taxi to Canada. Sounds like it’s faster than arriving in Pearson (yes yes I know not many direct flights to Buffalo)
only vaxxed can come in anyways unless citizen/PR ..so it really didn't make sense to have it segregated
Member
Aug 5, 2007
400 posts
353 upvotes
when flying out, US customs at yyz took 1:15 of my 1;30 between connecting flights.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 12, 2005
5132 posts
1771 upvotes
Mississauga
Can everyone post which terminal they flew into when they post their experience? Thanks.
Member
Mar 1, 2007
280 posts
207 upvotes
GTA
GateGuardian wrote: Can everyone post which terminal they flew into when they post their experience? Thanks.
T1 for my post above.
Jr. Member
Dec 23, 2007
172 posts
22 upvotes
Toronto
Terminal 1 - Friday before a long weekend: Arrived at 530am for an 830am flight. Bag drop off, security and customs (no nexus)... we did not get to our gate until 815am (~2hrs 45mins). The flight was delayed for an hour waiting for other passengers who were still stuck in customs. They do not start the security process until 6am but by the time we got in line around 545am after bag drop off, there was at least 100+ people ahead of us so it was pretty slow.

A friend recently travelled on a Sunday afternoon at Terminal 1 the following weekend to the US and the same process only took them 30 minutes, so YMMV.

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