In advance of Canada further easing travel restriction on August 9, not to mention a potential strike by Canadian Border Service Agency beginning Friday, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport wants travellers to know that if it’s their first time back at an airport since the pandemic began, then they should expect a different experience than they remembered. Delays and longer wait times are to be expected due to increased passenger volume and COVID-19 health measures.
With the re-opening of the border for non-essential travel by fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents on August 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, Pearson is anticipating interest in air travel to increase. While Pearson says it is working closely with airlines and government agencies to find every efficiency possible, it may take longer to pass through the airport due to additional health screenings for COVID-19. The entire airport community is working together to ensure that passenger and employee health and safety remain the top priority.
Just like before the pandemic, departing passengers should give themselves lots of time when arriving for their flight. Passengers departing on domestic flights are advised to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before their flight time. Passengers on departing international flights will want to arrive at least three hours in advance. Passengers should be prepared to answer additional questions from their airline and present them with any additional documents they may require. Passengers should confirm the specific requirements that apply to their destination in advance with their airline.
To help save time, passengers can check-in online from home and then use a contactless kiosk to print their luggage tags.
For international passengers, they should be prepared to wait three hours or more to complete the arrivals process due to COVID-19 screening requirements, depending on their unique set of circumstances. If a flight arrives during peak hours, passengers may be asked to disembark the aircraft and proceed to an area of the terminal building to wait until space becomes available in the customs hall. When going through customs, passengers will be required to answer additional health questions. Passengers arriving from international destinations should remember to submit all required information in ArriveCAN (app or website) prior to arrival in Canada. This includes travel, contact and quarantine information. Fully vaccinated travellers must also provide proof of vaccination in English or French. Travellers using the App must ensure that they have the most up-to-date version available in the Google Play Store and the App Store for iPhone.
Additional delays could be possible if the The Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union, which represent CBSA workers, goes ahead with its strike mandate if it doesn’t get a satisfactory contract by 6 a.m. Friday.
The union said its members will begin a series of strike actions at not only Canada’s airports, but also at land borders, shipping ports, postal facilities and various administrative locations.
“We truly hoped we wouldn’t be forced to take strike action, but we’ve exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract with the government,” said Chris Aylward, the union’s national president, in a release.
Finally, the airport reminds travellers eligible to enter Canada that they are still required to have a valid pre-arrival COVID-19 molecular test result.