pearson airport

People are panicking about missing connecting flights due to delays at Toronto airport

If you haven't personally encountered it first-hand as a traveller, you've likely heard of the exasperating mayhem that Toronto's Pearson Airport has become lately.

Though air travel is not ever exactly a joy, getting through the hub has been worse than usual lately amid security and airline staffing shortages, and increased demand butting against flight schedules that were decreased due to lockdowns.

People have been encountering absolutely brutal lineups at security and customs, many of them missing their flights as a result, especially connections.

Though passengers are now advised to arrive at least 2 hours prior to their flight if it's domestic (vs. the previous allotment of an hour), and at least 3 hours prior if it's international (a timeframe that used to be 1.5 hours), the lines are unpredictable and these times aren't often possible with connections.

Many are fretting about connecting flights that have hardly more than an hour between the first and second leg, which may not be enough if you're travelling domestically for one flight, and internationally for the second, and thus may have to do security (and for the U.S., customs) all over again.

Multiple people have been hitting up airlines and Pearson itself to inquire about connecting flight times, and also to ask if guidelines for the time between connections will be changing given how busy the airport has been.

Additional checks for new documentation such as proof of vax, proof of a negative C**ID test (if travelling to a country that requires it), and/or ArriveCan (for those on their way home and connecting in Canada) have also been slowing things down and causing people to miss flights.

And even planes that land at Pearson on time have been held up on the tarmac for hours in many cases to avoid funnelling even more people into an already extremely-backed up lines at Canadian customs.

It seems that in these circumstances, at least some airlines are permitting passengers with connecting flights to deplane before the rest, enraging those left on board.

Essentially, at many stages of departure or arrival and for many reasons, things have been an utter mess, and many are demanding that stakeholders hire more personnel immediately as a result — which they are trying to do.

"We are acutely aware of the extreme wait times that passengers are facing within Toronto Pearson," the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates the airport, said in a release on the subject on Wednesday.

It proceeded to call on the federal government to streamline or fully get rid of C**ID requirements that slow down inbound travel, including random testing, and help to increase staffing levels.

"Wait times for departing passengers at security screening points are being negatively impacted by staffing challenges," the release continues. "Moreover, international arriving passengers are facing bottlenecks and very lengthy delays in border processing — a direct result of legacy public health requirements."

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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