toronto airport

Things at Toronto's Pearson airport are actually getting better and people are noticing

The lore of how terrible it is to travel through Toronto Pearson International Airport has been enough to cause people to drive to their destination or otherwise change their travel plans, but it seems that after so many weeks of flight delays, lost baggage, and hours-long lineups every step of the way, things are finally improving at the hub.

Though Pearson's issues have risen to viral infamy and made international headlines, the airport assured the public that steps are being taken to address record demand for travel, including hiring more staff at customs and security, using new technology like egates and baggage AI, and accepting customs forms in advance via ArriveCAN.

According to the body that runs the facility — the Greater Toronto Airports Athority, or GTAA — 83 per cent of passengers were getting through security checkpoints within 15 minutes as of the beginning of August, and delays were down from 65 per cent of flights to 56 per cent over a month.

Since then, things have apparently continued to get better — and travellers are noticing. 

Where there used to be a glut of furious complaints on Twitter, there are now some residents thanking the airport and its staff for a smooth, speedy experience during recent trips — something that must be a nice change for those running the account and dealing with the recent incessant hate.

It's not to say that there are no longer grievances about long wait times, luggage woes and more popping up on socials, but they seem to be fewer in number, and with opposing anecdotes of quick check-ins and good service peppered between.

Of course, some travel days and times remain better than others, it seems — last Wednesday and Saturday, for example, seemed to be a breeze for travellers, while Tuesday and Thursday proved busier and more troublesome.

The GTAA confirmed to blogTO on Tuesday that they are seeing things improve on the ground, with Pearson slowly moving down the list of international airports with the most departure delays.

The airport also measures and publicly displays certain metrics online week-over-week, such as the rate of on-time performance, which improved from 43 per cent to 45 per cent, and the percentage of flights cancelled, which fell from six per cent to four per cent as per the most recent numbers.

While some of these numbers are better, others, such as the number of flights held on the aircraft before being permitted to clear customs, are not, though this can be explained by outside factors, the GTAA said.

"Key areas, such as on time performance, are trending in the right direction, although the number of flights held for holding and metering increased last week . The influx of international students, which take longer to process, has been a contributing factor to this increase," a representative for the authority said.

"Weather can also impact airport operations as grounds crews are not able to work when there are lightning warnings in the area... While these events are out of everyone's control, the GTAA continues to work with all partners to minimize impacts while maintaining the priority of employee and passenger safety."

To avoid unnecessary frustration, passengers should arrive at Pearson at least two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international.

Check-in online beforehand if possible, pack your carry-on wisely to expedite the security process, and follow other tips and best practices from the airport and frequent flyers.

Lead photo by

Kris Pangilinan

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