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Hoping for ‘seamless’ March break travel from Toronto this year? Airport officials have tips | CBC News



As the March break school holiday approaches, officials at Canada’s busiest airport are sharing tips to help passengers travelling by plane get to their destinations as easily as possible.

Toronto Pearson International Airport says up to 140,000 people are expected to pass through daily during the “busiest points” of March break, which falls between March 11 to 15 this year.

That’s nearly 1,000 flights taking off and landing every day during busy peaks, the airport said in a press release.

“It’s going to be a really busy week, but a fun week,” said airport spokesperson Sean Davidson. “There’s thousands of families who are heading off for March break.”

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In 2022, the airport saw a rash of troubles during the March break rush that caused many passengers to face disruptions, including flight delays, cancellations and hours-long bottlenecks at security, as air travel recovered from historic lows due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 March break went much smoother, after the airport capped the number of flights coming in and out to reduce traffic and delays.

Passengers have experienced major delays at Toronto Pearson in recent years, as air travel recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Esteban Cuevas/CBC)

Davidson said the airport has implemented a number of measures over the past year to help streamline operations.

“Families who are coming to the airport, they want to know… how to get to the gate as quickly as possible,” Davidson said. “We’ve made a number of tools available for them to do just that.”

Davidson said he encourages passengers to make use of online tools such as YYZ Express, an online reservation system that allows passengers to book a spot in the security line ahead of time, and dashboards that show wait times by terminal, flight type and airline.

While there are no major traffic issues to report around the airport, Davidson said passengers who want to avoid congestion at the terminal arrival areas can be dropped off at the “kiss and ride” located at Viscount Station and then take the Terminal Link train to travel to Terminals 1 or 3.

Reminders for packing bags

Passengers with questions about the number, size or weight of carry on and checked baggage should check directly with their airline, as each airline has their own rules.

Matthew Blanche, a terminal manager with the Canadian Air Transportation Safety Authority, reminded passengers to remember rules around liquids, gels and aerosols. Those items must be packed in containers of 100 millilitres or less and placed together in a clear, resealable plastic bag of no more than one litre in order to be allowed in a carry-on bag.

Items with inorganic or granular materials, such as a stuffed teddy bear, can only go into carry-on bags if they’re smaller than the size of a pop can, Blanche said.

A drone's view of planes at gates.
More than 1,000 flights are expected to take off and land each day at Toronto Pearson Airport during the busiest point of the March break holiday week, the airport says. (Yan Theoret/CBC/Radio-Canada)

“My advice to folks when you’re travelling, if you have liquids or granular materials or things that you aren’t sure if they fit, best bet is to always put it in your checked luggage,” he said.

Certain items like laptops must go in carry-on bags, while other items like tools must go in checked baggage, Blanche said, and passengers shouldn’t bring anything illegal.

For a full list of permitted and non-permitted items, check the CASTA website.

Customs app helps U.S.-bound passengers

Mexico and Florida are among the most popular international destinations for Canadians to travel to during March break, while Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal are the most popular Canadian destinations, according to Davidson.

Anyone travelling to the United States will need to pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USBP).

Trent Matthews, a USBP supervisor, said passengers should budget plenty of time to get through customs.

He said passengers should take advantage of applications that can be filled out ahead of time, including the Mobile Passport Control app, which allows U.S.-bound passengers to upload information ahead of time.

He encouraged customers not to be nervous when passing through customs.

“We’re not here to interrogate people [or] disrupt travel. We’re here to facilitate travel,” he said.

“If you give yourself time, you know, take a breather, take advantage of the applications that we do offer, your travel will be seamless.”

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