What to expect this holiday season at Pearson


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Pack your patience if you’re flying through Pearson International Airport over the holidays.

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While things have thankfully improved since a collection of issues — led by massive staffing problems — made a trip to the busy airport hellish for many travellers.

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With so many itching to get away during the holiday season, don’t expect smooth sailing this month.

The leadup to Christmas, in particular, is when things get the most busy and morning flights will likely be more packed, leading to longer wait times at security and customs if you’re heading to the United States.

The last Friday before Christmas is always pegged as a particularly busy day to fly. This year, that’s Dec. 23. Realistically, any time from Dec. 20 on will likely be a lot busier than normal.

Pearson says Terminal 1 is busiest at 5 p.m. for departing domestic flights, 4 p.m. for departing international, and 6 a.m. for departing flights to the U.S. Things are slightly different at Terminal 3:  7 p.m.  is the busiest time for departing domestic and international flights and  4 a.m. for flights to the U.S.

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Back in the summer, it became common to hear about Pearson topping one list or another about the world’s worst airports, and now you can add another unwanted “honour” to the list: travel website Hawaiian Islands.com has just named it “the most stressful airport in North America.”

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The site analyzed more than 1,500 Google reviews of more than 500 airports worldwide and while it found nine out of the 10 most stressful airports are found in Europe, Pearson was the exception, ranking first in North America and fourth in the world.

It said 76% of Pearson’s reviews indicated passenger stress.

Only Manchester (first), Greece’s Heraklion (second) and Stansted in the U.K. (third) were ranked more stressful than Pearson. It appeared a large part of Pearson’s ranking came as a result of 52.5% of flights being delayed between May 26 and July 19, 2022, the most in the world.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTTA) has insisted things have gotten a lot better with time-saving initiatives like allowing passengers to pre-register to go through security at specific windows.

Pearson’s second-busiest runway was also reopened earlier in November after being closed for eight months.

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But be prepared for higher prices in the new year.

“Effective Jan. 1, 2023, aeronautical rates for commercial aviation, business aircraft and general aviation aircraft will increase by 4%. The airport improvement fee for departing passengers will increase by $5; whereas the fees charged for connecting passengers will increase by $1,” the GTTA said in October.

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