The Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (also known as L'aéroport International Macdonald-Cartier) is an international airport that services both Ottawa and neighboring Gatineau. Named after the “founding fathers” of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier, the airport is currently the sixth-busiest in Canada serving more than 5 million passengers in 2018.
Due to its size and positioning in Canada’s capital city, the Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is extremely easy to navigate, is impeccably clean and organized, and has won a number of awards that acknowledge its impeccable customer service and tourism partnerships.
Ottawa Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
- Airport Code: YOW
- Location: The airport is located about 20 minutes south of the city center in Nepean.
- Website: https://yow.ca/en
- Flight Tracker: https://yow.ca/en/flights/arrivals
- Terminal Map: https://yow.ca/en/travel-planning/terminal-maps
- Phone Number: (613) 248-2125
Know Before You Go
Despite being an international airport, the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is quite small in size so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your gate or getting through security on time for your flight; there are just 28 gates across two terminals.
Like the rest of the city, the Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is completely bilingual with signs and directions posted in both French and English. However, less than 2 percent of the population is unilingual so you shouldn’t have to worry about ordering or asking questions in French.
Although it’s quite small in size, the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is quite interesting to walk around and explore. It’s designed to foster a sense of calmness and caters to first-time flyers or those flying with kids. The airport also goes one step further and has decorated its terminals with several art displays from Canadian artists for anyone who needs to take a mental break and enjoy some art.
There are two parking areas, one called Parkade P1—for up to 24-hour parking and Long-term/Overheight P4, which is specifically for long-term parking. Rates start at CA$5 per half hour and go up to CA$156 for a 30-day maximum spot in P4.
Note that accessible parking is available in both lots—there’s also a 30-minute grace period for people parking in Parkade P1 who have valid accessible parking permits.
Public Transportation and Taxis
- Taxis: Metered taxis and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft from the airport are relatively inexpensive due to its close proximity to the downtown core. The 20-minute trip usually costs an average of CA$30 depending on traffic and taxi queues are usually pretty short.
- Public Buses: Public buses are a great option for getting from the center of the city to the airport. The OC Transpo operates route 97 and frequent express bus services to and from the airport bus stop. Tickets cost CA$3.60 for a single pass or CA$10.75 for unlimited full day service.
- Bicycle: During the spring and summer months, it’s possible to cycle from downtown Ottawa to the airport via the Capital Pathway. The trip would take about 50 minutes.
Where to Eat and Drink
The choices for food at the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport are rather underwhelming despite being an international airport that services two major government cities. Before security, you have the choice of Subway or Tim Hortons (which can actually be a fun and shameless tourist thing to check off your list while in Canada).
After clearing security on the International/Canada side, your choices are quite a bit better and include Booster Juice, Cafe & Vin (a grab-and-go sandwich bar), Vino Volo (a wine bar chain), and more fast food and coffee shop options, including Starbucks. Know that no restaurants are open 24 hours—with most closing by 10 p.m. every night (or earlier)—but there are a handful of convenience stores that stay open much later than that if you’re in a pinch.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
The Ottawa International Airport Authority provides free Wi-Fi all throughout the airport. Note that you’ll be logged off after a set period of time but all you’ll have to do is quickly log back in. Charging ports are available sporadically throughout the airport but there isn't a dedicated charging station or work area.
Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport Tips and Facts
- The hotel nearest to the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is the new Alt Hotel Ottawa Airport that is set to open this year—the indoor skywalk will connect the hotel to the airport terminal for ease of transportation.
- The Ottawa Airport is remarkably kid-friendly, with many play zones, private breastfeeding rooms, and baby changing stations within both the domestic and international terminals.
- If you travel with a reusable water bottle, there are multiple water bottle stations located throughout the airport to help reduce the need for single-use water bottles.
- The observation area, which is located on Level 3, is the best spot from inside the terminal to watch planes take off and touch down.