Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alternatives to Toronto Pearson Airport

Our recent trip to Boston highlighted for me some of the challenges of flying out of Toronto Pearson, particularly on Air Canada.  The timing could not have been worse:  In the days leading up to our flight, Garda, the company which handles security screening was operating on a work-to-rule and line ups were horrendous.  Making matters worse was the threat of a strike by Air Canada flight attendants.  In the end, things worked out fine for us… we moved our flights up by a couple of days to avoid a flight attendant walk-out (which was prevented anyway) and Garda disciplined the employees causing trouble at security so that problem got ironed out too.

Even during the best of times, Toronto Pearson is not my favorite airport.  With long line-ups at check-in, U.S. customs (when traveling to the U.S.) and security screening, it can mean having to entertain B for a long time before we even get to the gate.  The airport’s two play areas are only accessible if you are taking a domestic flight from terminal 1, or an international flight from terminal 3, so a wait at Toronto Pearson inevitably means spending a lot of time on the moving walkways.

Thankfully there ARE alternatives to Toronto Pearson for many destinations.  If flying during the winter, keep in mind that a blizzard could snarl your plans to drive to another airport, so you need to plan accordingly.  Here four alternative airports which are convenient to the Toronto area.


Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Website:

Proximity/drive to downtown Toronto
4 km (approx 30 minutes including ferry ride)

Airlines serviced:
Porter Airlines (to/from over a dozen cities in Canada and the U.S.)
Air Canada (to/from Montreal)

You will appreciate:
  • Short check-in and security screening lines
  • Family washrooms and change tables in select men’s and women’s washrooms
  • Free wi-fi
  • Easily accessible by foot, bike, TTC and free shuttle bus from the Royal York Hotel
Kids will enjoy:
  • The 2 minute ferry ride from the foot of Bathurst St. to the airport (free for pedestrians, $11 return for vehicles)
  • Complimentary water, juice and cookies in Porter’s passenger lounges
Parking:
Limited on-site parking, but pick up/drop off parking is available at the Bathurst Street and Stadium Road lots


Waterloo International Airport

Website:

Proximity/drive to downtown Toronto
104 km (1 hour, 20 minute drive)
Adjust your drive times accordingly during rush hours and inclement weather

Airlines serviced:
Westjet (to/from Calgary)
Sunwing (to/from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
Bearskin (to/from Ottawa, Montreal)

You will appreciate:
  • Short lines for check-in and security
  • The Aviator Café in the gate area sells milk and other healthy items (e.g. fruit and cheese, granola, yogurt)
  • Family washroom in the main airport lobby and change tables in men's and women's washrooms
  • Free wi-fi
  • Free use of baggage carts
Kids will enjoy:
  • Charging stations in the departure lounge mean you they won’t run out of juice on portable DVD players or other electronics
Parking:
On site $6/day ($45/week).  Effective January 1, 2012 parking rates will be reduced to $6 per day.


Hamilton International Airport

Website:

Proximity/drive to downtown Toronto: 
84 km (1 hour, 7 minute drive)
Adjust your drive times accordingly during rush hours and inclement weather.

Airlines serviced:
Hola Sun (seasonal flights to/from Cuba)
Westjet (to/from Calgary, seasonally to/from Moncton, Halifax, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Orlando and Punta Cana)

You will appreciate:
  • Short lines for check-in and security
  • Tim Hortons for milk, juice and snacks
  • Change tables in men's and women's washrooms
Kids will enjoy:
  • The children’s play area with tables, chairs, colouring books and games
Parking:
On site economy $14/day ($59/week), premium $19/day ($79/week)


Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Website:

Proximity/drive to downtown Toronto
175 km  (2 hour drive)
Adjust your drive times accordingly during rush hours and inclement weather.
Allow extra time for the US border crossing particularly on summer weekends and holidays and for roadway construction at the airport.

Airlines serviced:
8 airlines serving 23 destinations in the U.S.

You will appreciate:
  • Short lines for check-in and security
  • "Companion Care" rest rooms in several locations, change tables in men’s and women’s washrooms
  • Numerous restaurant options (milk available) – there is even a branch of the Anchor Bar, the originator of Buffalo chicken wings
  • Since you have already crossed the US border on the way to the airport, no further customs screening is required
Kids will enjoy:
  • The Fisher Price Play Gate near Gate 16
Parking:
Variety of options with cost ranging from $10 to $24 per day.  Many travelers stay near the airport the evening before their flight.  Not only does this help ensure you don’t miss your flight, but most airport hotels offer free parking for the duration of your holiday.

1 comment:

  1. A solitary traveler can sleep from state to state, from day to night, from day to day, in the long womb of its controlled interior. It is the cradle that never stops rocking after the lullaby is over. It is the biggest sleeping tablet in the world, and no one need ever swallow the pill, for it swallows them.

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