Is Toronto Pearson really that bad? Here’s a travel agent’s perspective

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“In my view, so many travel restrictions have been lifted and those that remain will start to look like the new normal, similar to the changes implemented after 9/11,” Dudley says. “Travelers just need to change their mindset when it comes to timelines, flexibility and budgets. Planning ahead and preparing for changes is a must.

For travel advisors who haven’t been able to travel recently and experience first-hand the current situation at Toronto Pearson International Airport, we asked Dudley to tell us about his experience departing and arriving at Toronto Pearson.


FROM YYZ

Although Dudley was already aware of the lines and delays at Toronto Pearson, they weren’t at all what she expected. Upon arriving at YYZ for her flight to Mexico, she says “the security line was extremely long,” making her way to the terminal. To make matters worse, “Sunwing’s kiosks were down,” which led to even more queues. The entire security process took about 90 minutes from start to finish.

Photo credit: Shalene Dudley

Once through security, Dudley’s problems only got worse, with his Sunwing flight being delayed for three hours. He was told the flight departing the previous day had been canceled and rescheduled to fly with his.

His second trip to Jamaica in August, however, got off to a better start, consistent with continued assurances from the federal government that the situation at Toronto Pearson is steadily improving. Terminal kiosks this time around were at least operational, says Dudley, however, with four flights all departing around the same time as his in the morning, queues at check-in counters remained “extremely long”.

Looking back, Dudley tells Travelweek she’s thankful she had the good sense to buy Elite Plus, Sunwing’s optional $50 service, which includes priority check-in, priority check-in, and more. priority boarding and free advanced seat selection.

“I was able to skip the long lines with Elite Plus, and security was a short line the second time around because it was so early in the morning,” she says.

Another highlight of his starting experience at Toronto Pearson was the Sunwing agents, adds Dudley.

“All the counters had agents and they worked very hard to get everyone registered,” she says. “They all had amazing attitudes and seemed to work as efficiently as possible. And although many queues were long, they were constantly moving.


ARRIVAL AT YYZ

Dudley’s experience at Toronto Pearson on the way home from his two trips was fairly smooth, far from the chaotic scenes that were widely reported in the media throughout the summer. Upon returning from Mexico, she and her fellow passengers were dropped off 50 at a time and cleared customs and collected baggage in less than 40 minutes. Dudley’s bags were collected in about 10 minutes. During her drive home, she received an alert on her phone, informing her that her daughter had been randomly selected for a mandatory COVID-19 test, which she would later take offsite, at a venue or pharmacy. approved.

His return flight from Jamaica, which had already been delayed at Montego Bay, took an extra hour because there was no runway available at YYZ for the pilot to land. After circling the area, Dudley’s flight was finally cleared to land, which was the only major accident on an otherwise enjoyable trip.

“The customs area was only about 20% occupied and all the kiosks appeared to be in working order. And since I had filled out my customs declaration in the ArriveCAN app, all I had to do was insert my passport into a terminal and take a photo. The queue to see a customs officer was only about five people, and when it was my turn, the officer didn’t even look at my passport or ask for my ArriveCAN results,” says Dudley.

Her bags took a little longer to come out, but that wasn’t entirely surprising as she cleared customs in no time. Dudley returned home to Oakville, Ont., just 90 minutes after her flight landed.


ARRIVECAN

It doesn’t look like Canada’s ArriveCAN app is going away anytime soon. First launched in November 2020 to monitor COVID-19 vaccinations among air arrivals, the mandatory app has long been a contentious point of debate among travel industry experts and advocacy groups, who claim the app has lost its usefulness and is contributing to airport delays. The federal government says that without the application, the delays would be even longer. In addition, there are plans to upgrade the application to a customs declaration tool.

But many travel agents told Travelweek that their customers, especially older ones, continue to have trouble downloading and navigating the app. Concerns about poor destination Wi-Fi and access to smartphone technology persist. However, Dudley, who downloaded the app herself months ago and asked her customers to do the same, says the process is pretty straightforward, as long as you don’t rush it.

“It can be completed in 10 minutes if you have your passport and vaccination documents handy,” she says. “Considering that it only takes a few minutes doesn’t necessarily bother me or take extra time. Are vaccination data useful? I have no idea. But I think the app should be used for customs declaration, which should reduce the time spent at the airport.

Dudley says the only issue she had with the app was in an area with spotty Wi-Fi, “which is why it needs to be terminated before departure, at your hotel, not at the airport, if you can avoid it”.


SOME ADVICE FOR CUSTOMERS

Dudley has these tips to share with fellow travel advisors, to pass on to their clients:

“Travel insurance is essential, if only for peace of mind. Have all your documents in digital format, in addition to printing. Download ArriveCAN before leaving Canada. Complete any declaration and tourist card before arriving at the airport. Upgrade to premium seats before departure, if possible and within your budget. Minimize the items in your carry-on or check your baggage, if you’re on a direct flight. Arrive at the airport more than three hours before departure. And above all, be prepared for the changes!


Do you have a story idea? Contact Associate Editor Cindy Sosroutomo at [email protected].

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