6 Things You Should Know Before Travelling Through Pearson Airport This Week

New travel rules kicked in, and here's what to expect!

6 Things You Should Know Before Travelling Through Pearson Airport This Week
Toronto Associate Editor

6 Things You Should Know Before Travelling Through Pearson Airport This Week

Shawn Goldberg | DreamstimeStephen O Reilly | Dreamstime,

Now that Canada has reopened its borders to fully vaccinated Americans, Toronto Pearson Airport is undoubtedly going to get an influx of travellers coming up to the Great White North.

After 17 months, fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents have now been given the green light to travel up to Canada as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, August 9. Then Canada's borders are expected to loosen again on September 7, when fully vaccinated travellers from all over the world will be allowed to visit.

Pearson recently warned travellers to prepare for a "different airport experience" than what they would have been used to pre-pandemic back in March 2020. So, if you're travelling through Toronto's massive airport any time soon, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Expect longer lines

Pearson has said there will be longer wait times due to more travellers coming in and out of the airport and additional COVID-19 health measures.

"With the re-opening of the border for non-essential travels by fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents on August 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, Pearson is anticipating interest in air travel to increase," the airport said in a press release on August 5. "While Pearson is working closely with airlines and government agencies to find every efficiency possible, it may take longer to pass through the airport due to additional health screenings for COVID-19."

The airport has already been experiencing wild lineups, though. Some travellers have taken to social media to share how disappointed they've been with their experience at Pearson, with one Twitter user describing it as "madness."

Expect potential delays

"Delays are possible and longer wait times are to be expected due to increased passenger volume and COVID-19 health measures," Pearson said in the release.

If you're going to pick someone up from the airport, you can keep track of all the delays happening that day through Pearson's list of arrivals.

According to the press release, international passengers arriving at the airport should brace themselves for a wait of three hours or more in order to complete the arrivals process, which involves COVID-19 screening requirements. Flyers coming in at peak travel times may even have to get off the plane and wait in a separate area of the terminal building until there is space to wait at the customs hall.

While airlines typically inform passengers if their flights have been delayed, you can also look at Toronto Pearson Airport's departure list.

Plan to arrive earlier than usual

Pearson Airport is asking flyers to arrive earlier than they might have prior to the pandemic. Domestic flights typically require passengers to arrive an hour before their flight time, but those travelling through YYZ are being advised to come at least 90 minutes beforehand.

"Passengers on departing international flights will want to arrive at least three hours in advance," a spokesperson for the airport told Narcity in an email.

According to the August 5 press release, passengers should also be prepared to answer additional questions from their airline and present them with any additional documents they may require. "Passengers should confirm the specific requirements that apply to their destination in advance with their airline," reads the release.

There will be increased health measures

Pearson Airport has also shed more light on the health measures travellers can expect. Terminals can only be accessed by travellers with a boarding pass, airport employees and those who have same-day travel. There are also COVID-19 testing services at Pearson, which are available to departing travellers and those who aren't travelling but need access to these services.

International passengers who aren't fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are required to test at the airport before leaving. Fully vaccinated travellers can skip this step unless they have been randomly selected to complete an arrival test.

Just like the province requires masking in public indoor spaces, wearing a mask at the airport is mandatory for all passengers and airport employees.

There are some areas at Pearson where physical distancing may not be possible, and so the Government of Canada recommends using multiple health measures like masking, hand hygiene and "respiratory etiquette."

Upload your info to the ArriveCAN app

All international travellers should use the ArriveCAN app or website before landing in Canada.

Travellers should submit all of their necessary travel information, including their contact and quarantine information into the app or website, which they will then present when touching down in the country.

According to the Government of Canada, if they meet specific criteria and are eligible to come into the country, fully vaccinated travellers won't have to quarantine upon arrival.

Health Canada recognizes these four vaccines

On top of being fully vaccinated to enter the country, Health Canada only recognizes four vaccines, and international travellers can be turned away if they do not qualify.

Here are the four approved COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech
  2. Moderna
  3. AstraZeneca (or COVISHIELD)
  4. Johnson & Johnson

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor