Travellers Are Facing Major Delays At Canada's Biggest Airports & Here's What You Should Know

Passengers are urged to arrive much earlier for both domestic and international flights!👇✈️

A plane taking off at Toronto Pearson Airport. Right: Passengers walking through a busy Vancouver Airport.
Senior Editor

A plane taking off at Toronto Pearson Airport. Right: Passengers walking through a busy Vancouver Airport.

Travellers are facing major delays at Canadian airports all over the country, with passengers being urged to arrive "well in advance" of their flights both within Canada and internationally.

On Monday, May 2, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority issued a statement acknowledging the recent increase in wait times at several major airports, including Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International.

According to the corporation — which is responsible for security and screening at 89 designated airports in Canada — the delays are due, in part, to "pent-up demand for air travel occasioned by the pandemic" and low staffing levels as a result of "recruitment challenges."

It means lines at airports are much longer than usual, with passengers being forced to wait for hours at a time to get through luggage drop-offs and security checkpoints.

CTV News reports that travellers departing from Toronto Pearson Airport faced queues of 500 people or more at the gates, with some passengers even missing their flights due to the delays.

On Twitter, one person said that they had "never seen delays like this at Pearson."

Another said that they had arrived at the airport two hours early and were still not even close to getting through security.

A third person shared a video of the queues, adding "the line length for security screening at Pearson is measured in hours."

In response, Toronto Pearson said via Twitter that "staff are doing everything they can to manage the situation, however security screening delays with [CATSA] are leading to longer than expected line-ups."

In Vancouver, similar issues are occurring.

Vancouver International Airport issued a notice this week urging passengers to arrive earlier than usual for their flights, as "ongoing delays in passenger screening are resulting in long lines at the airport."

Pointing to staffing shortages, the notice added "it is unclear when this situation will improve."

Those with domestic flights are urged to arrive "at least" two hours prior to departure, while international travellers are advised to arrive at least three hours before.

In Quebec, passengers flying from Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport are also being advised to arrive at least three hours early for departures.

The same advice has been issued by CATSA, which "strongly advises" passengers to arrive "well in advance of their flights."

It sounds like it's going to be a little while before things improve on a national level, too.

Speaking on Monday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra acknowledged the ongoing issues and said he's been working alongside Transport Canada and CATSA to find solutions.

However, he added that the federal government is not likely to "immediately be able to resolve this."

"It's going to take some time to ramp up, so I think it's reasonable to assume a few weeks for us to get all the resources necessary," he said.

CATSA says it is working with contractors to increase staffing levels while ensuring they provide appropriate levels of security screening.

Travellers are asked to "show patience and understanding with screening personnel, who are doing their best to move air travellers through the screening process as quickly as possible while ensuring their safety and security."

For those who are travelling in the coming weeks, CATSA has an online resource that allows passengers to check the wait times at airports all over Canada. However, they do not include the time required to drop off and process baggage and check-in.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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Helena Hanson
Senior Editor
Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Travel and Money teams. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.