How do travelers feel about the delays at Pearson? We went to Terminal One and asked

“We almost missed our flight”: How do travelers feel about the delays at Pearson? We went to Terminal One and asked

Toronto Pearson International Airport has made headlines lately for its maddeningly long lines at security and customs, which the airport chalks up to staffing challenges and Covid screening requirements. Just how bad is it? We camped out at international arrivals and asked.


Seth Meyer, 23; with his sister, Alexandra Meyer, 24, engineering coordinator at Novocol Pharma

Where are you coming from?
Alexandra: We’re coming back from a vacation in Fort Lauderdale. We were meeting our dad and grandmother. We arrived here an hour and a quarter ago, and we’re still waiting to leave. Our sister got randomly selected for a Covid test, so I guess we’re stuck here even longer.

Did you expect this?
Alexandra: Before we flew, we were warned by a few of my friends who said, “Wait times are terrible—get ready,” so yeah. I’m disappointed about the wait—I was hoping for better—but, honestly, going to Fort Lauderdale from Pearson last week was way worse. It took us an hour and a half to get through Pearson security and we almost missed our flight. We got there in the nick of time. Fort Lauderdale’s airport was faster, all around.

Where did you have the longest wait?
Alexandra: Customs was fine this time, but we got stuck waiting at baggage claim for a good hour. We weren’t afraid we’d lose our luggage.

Any advice for travelers headed to Pearson?
Alexandra: Travel with good company. It keeps the conversation flowing.

Seth: Find ways to have fun: you need one of those new suitcases that have wheels that you can ride on.


Hetty van de Wouw, 23; Tijmen van Loon, 21; professional track cyclists

Where are you coming from?
Tijmen: The Netherlands. We flew straight from Amsterdam for the track cycling word cup in Milton, Ontario. We’ve been waiting for two hours and fifteen minutes, and we just got a message telling us we would be here waiting another 50 minutes.

Where did you have the longest wait?
Hetty: At customs it was pretty quick, but we’re waiting to receive our bikes. Our team has 25 bikes packed, and don’t have any of them back yet.

Tijmen: I think some of our riders were also selected for the random Covid tests, so we’re waiting for that, too.

Is that what you expected?
Hetty: It always takes a bit of extra time to get our bikes once we clear customs, but never this long.

Tijmen: We’re coming from another competition in Scotland, and the wait for bikes wasn’t as bad. Otherwise, the airport is well organized. I’d rank Pearson higher than most airports, but just not for retrieving our bikes.

Any advice for travelers headed to Pearson?
Tijmen: It’s easy if you’re traveling with a group. Have fun with each other and have a good laugh. Get some coffee and it will be fine.


Veruschka Rodriguez, 49, lawyer

Where are you coming from?
Barcelona, ​​Spain. I live close to there. I’ve always wanted to visit Canada. I’m doing Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

How long did you wait between touchdown and leaving Pearson?
One hour.

Where did you have the longest wait?
It took an hour to get through customs.

Did you expect that?
I guess. I’ve seen worse. People around here seem to think it’s a bad waiting time, but it’s not as bad as other places. I traveled a lot during the pandemic. For work, I flew to many countries in Europe—Uruguay, Turkey, among them. The Barcelona airport in particular is so complicated. You have to wait around, take off your shoes at security checkpoints. Today didn’t compare to that kind of waiting.

Any advice for travelers headed to Pearson?
I keep it simple—scroll Facebook and Instagram.


Alex Stiglick, 45, director of engineering

Where are you coming from?
Mexico.

How long did you wait between touchdown and leaving Pearson?
I landed 50 minutes ago. It wasn’t too bad, maybe because I landed in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend. It was actually better than I expected—I had read a bunch of articles recently that made me think I’d be looking at hours of waiting time.

Where did you have the longest wait?
The one thing that was annoying is they made us wait in the plane, and let only 50 people leave at a time. It was a big plane, so we were just sitting there waiting to enter Pearson for a while. Maybe it helped security get ready for us, so maybe it was a good idea, because overall 50 minutes isn’t so bad.

Any advice for travelers headed to Pearson?
Bring your phone or a book. My friend recommended a book to me, Brave New World, that I read as a kid in school. I didn’t appreciate it back then, but it turns out it’s a good read. It’s a different experience this time.


Sebastian Chicaiza, 19, student at the Toronto School of Management

Where are you coming from?
Ecuador. I was on vacation there for a few weeks to see my family.

How long did you wait between touchdown and leaving Pearson?
40 minutes.

Is that what you expected?
I actually expected worse. Earlier in Covid, it was messier. It’s a lot better now, with the lift of restrictions.

I flew from Pearson three times during Covid, and airports early in the pandemic were messy. Just line after line. The last time I came here, it took two hours to go through customs and do Covid checks, presenting a PCR test. There’s far less testing now, so I think it’s really helping the wait times.

In the normal times, I think Pearson is one of the best airports I’ve been to. It’s very organized. It felt more like those times today.

Where was your wait the longest?
Customs still could be improved. I spent most of my 40 minutes there, just waiting to show my passport and get through. I felt like it might have been because of a lack of staff. That was kind of annoying.

Any advice for travelers headed to Pearson?
Have something to eat. After a flight, you’re always hungry—you’re tired, too, you just want to leave. If you’re full, you’re chilling.


Lynn Valiquette, 48; Jason Griffin, 49, UPS deliverer

Where are you coming from?
Seattle. Jason is from there, and I’m from here. We’re finally getting married after delaying it twice because of Covid.

How long did you wait between touchdown and leaving Pearson?
45 minutes.

Where since touchdown was your wait the longest?
When we got in, they held the plane on the tarmac for a while. Then customs were kind of slow.

Did you expect that?
Kind of. This airport isn’t the best—there seems to be little communication between the staff. Right before you come through the arrival doors they asked us to get our passport out again, then it slows everything. If you’ve gone through customs, you’ve already cleared that. But all in all, I was expecting big wait times, because of the coverage on the news. Forty-five minutes isn’t so bad.

What’s your number one tip for surviving long lines?
Just be patient and hopefully the staff will communicate where you’re supposed to be. Also, just plan ahead and take into account that it will take a bit more time. This was way better than flying earlier in Covid, so we have to keep being patient in travel, and be happy that wait times are improving.

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