Toronto Pearson International Airport (airport code YYZ) is Canada's biggest and busiest airport, with two terminals that see the takeoff and landing of 1,100 flights per day. By reputation, however, other Canadian airports outshine Toronto, especially Vancouver, which is often heralded as the country's best airport in terms of passenger processing, access and amenities.
Renovations and upgrading have been ongoing at Toronto Pearson International Airport since the mid-2000s and expected to continue in 2015.
Expect good and bad if you're flying in or out of Toronto Pearson International Airport. Here are a few facts that are important to keep in mind.
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It's Not Actually in Toronto
Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada's largest and busiest airport, is not officially in Toronto but is in Mississauga, a sprawling suburb about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from downtown Toronto or 30 - 40 mins by car.
The address is 6301 Silver Dart Drive, Mississauga.
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Parking is Not Crazy Expensive and You Have Options
If you need to leave your car at Toronto Pearson International Airport, you have a few options. Like most any airport, the rates are not exactly a bargain, but Toronto's are not off the charts, especially if you are willing to park a little farther away. Be sure to check out Park & Fly online and hotels that offer park and fly packages, where you stay the night and leave your car for free while you're away.
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You'll Probably Clear Customs There.
If you are flying into Canada from abroad, including from the U.S., you will clear customs upon landing in Toronto, even if you are making a connection to another Canadian city.
If you are flying out of Toronto to the U.S., you will clear customs in Toronto.
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If you're stuck between flights at Toronto Pearson International airport for long enough to do something interesting or get a sleep in, you have some options.
For $50 to $75 per person, you can have access to one of several executive lounges that offer complimentary showers, WiFi, and food and drink. Check out this Toronto Star comparison of Toronto Pearson's lounges.
Several companies operate tours out of Toronto Pearson, geared towards travelers with limited time on layovers. Toronto City Tours will give you a two and a half hour whirlwind tour of the city. Tours to Niagara Falls are also available but you will need 5 to 8 hours for these.
Check prices and read reviews for the a Niagara Falls tour from the Toronto International Airport.
The Sheraton is an on-site hotel but will cost you upwards of $150/$200 for a stay. If you just want to curl up for free for a few hours, check out Sleeping in Airports, a great guide to the world's airports.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Efficient Public Transit is Available
For the country's biggest and busiest airport, Toronto Pearson had a woefully inadequate public transportation system connecting it to Toronto's downtown core and major neighbouring cities......until 2015.
The Union Pearson Express departs from both Union Station and Toronto Pearson International Airport every 15 minutes. The journey takes just 25 minutes and has free WiFi on board.
The ride is relatively expensive however, costing Cdn$27.50 (as of 2016) for a one-way ride, $57 for a return ticket.
By comparison, the train between the Vancouver International Airport and downtown Vancouver takes the same time but costs less than Cdn$10 one way.
If you are a family of four, Union Express may not be cheaper than a taxi, but it will ensure you get there in 25 minutes instead of battling who-knows-how-much traffic.
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The Two Airport Terminals are 1 & 3....Huh?
There are two Toronto Pearson International Airport terminals: Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Terminal 2 was knocked down and not replaced.
Terminal 3 is smaller and newer, but Terminal 1 has been undergoing expansion and upgrading since the mid-2000's and should be cutting edge in 2015.
A 24-hour light rail connect the two terminals but be sure to check your terminal - determined by the airline - before arriving (this information is also available on signs as you arrive).
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It is a Smoke-Free Facility
Get your nicotine fix outside before your flight or stick a patch on. There is no smoking anywhere in Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Smoking is permitted in designated areas outside the terminals.
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You Can Use NEXUS or Global Entry
Toronto Pearson offers NEXUS and Global Entry kiosks for expedited arrival and departure. If you haven't heard of these programs, they are worth investigating - even as a casual traveller. Enrollment in these programs can save you time by avoiding long customs lines and are relatively inexpensive.
In addition, NEXUS has a dedicated security line.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Food is So-So
Increasingly, the North American airport landscape is getting an upgrade with the inclusion of fine dining and restaurants that offer fare actually meant to delight the senses, not just fill your belly and empty your wallet.
Unfortunately, this trend is not entrenched yet at Toronto Pearson, though the variety of choices has been increasing since 2012. Japanese, Italian and Indian cuisine and several pubs and burger bars are now available once you've passed security.
Let's hope 2016 sees Toronto Pearson continue its trend toward offering more delicious, fresh and healthful restaurant offerings.
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The Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport is the only hotel located right inside the airport with direct indoor access. Check in for your flight right from the hotel lobby and enjoy 24-hour pool and gym access and
Lots of other Toronto airport hotels are in the immediate area.
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WiFi is FreeEnjoy free WiFi throughout Toronto Pearson International Airport courtesy of American Express.