I’ve been debating to go to Toronto since Canada reopened to fully vaccinated Americans without quarantine. My wife is from Toronto so she has a lot of family there, including her mother and sister. Before the pandemic, we would visit every couple of months but we haven’t been in almost two years.

Natalie’s not comfortable traveling with our two little unvaccinated kids and one of the big reasons is that she doesn’t want us to be caught up in any long lines at the airport. FYI: All of us but our two-year-old have NEXUS, which would alleviate the long lines. When COVID hit, we were in the process of getting Olivia her NEXUS pass and she’s just waiting for an interview.  Unfortunately, you can’t use the NEXUS lanes unless everyone in your party is an approved member.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going just for a night so I can help my mother-in-law with some household chores and take advantage of Air Canada’s elite status match (here’s more on that). However, I just got a new passport and when I went into my NEXUS account to update the passport number, it wouldn’t accept it because my last name is spelled with a space on one of my documents so I’m not even sure I can use the NEXUS lanes and it’s next to impossible to get it corrected remotely.

Then, I just saw a disturbing tweet this morning from Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ), which is the reason for this post: “Afternoons and evenings are busy times for arrivals at Pearson. If you’re flying into the airport during these times, be aware that the process for international arrivals could take 1-3 hours due to additional COVID-19 health screenings. https://t.co/Nohsa5l2mP.”

Yikes! And if that wasn’t bad enough, Journey Woman tweeted: “If you’re flying to the US the lineup is enormous. I’ve never seen it so long. Come at least 3 hours ahead or you might miss your flight. International line is much faster!”

If you don’t have NEXUS, it looks like you could be in YYZ for hours on both ends of your trip so plan accordingly and travel on off-peak times and days whenever possible.

18 Comments On "Toronto Pearson Airport Warning"
  1. Anonymous|

    We flew out of Tornoto over a week a go. We wish they had warned us to go 4 hours before our flight instead of 2 and a half hours. The line to go through security was over an hour long. We kept asking for them to let us go ahead of the line not to miss our flight and they did nothing to help us. We ended up missing our flight and our connection flight alo g with 11 others! We waited at the air port for 8 hours to get on the next flight(standby). We made it to Dallas but once again they knew we had a connection flight and needed to make it and no one helped us. We ran through the Dallas air port to make our connection flight. They had just closed the gate and knowing our circumstances did nothing to help us again! After 8 hours of waiting at the Pearson airport, we ended up sleeping at the Dallas air port to be on stand by for the next flight to our destination at 1:30 pm the next day. So 8 hours in Pearson and 15 hours at The Dallas airport!! Very dissappointed in the lack of organization and the lack of caring to help travelers get to their destination in a responsible and timely manner! Absolutely aweful!

  2. Tony|

    It’s articles like these that make people feel that they can’t travel. We have been on 2 international flights one from Jamaica and one from Cancun in September and October. From landing to car in one hour both times. Lines in customs move very fast.

  3. Anonymous|

    Just a note. Pearson has let parents with nexus cards bring their child without go in the nexus line.try it. We have.

  4. Rona Zevin|

    I just flew through Toronto from Nova Scotia to Seattle via Vancouver. Not many people and moved through quickly. It was quite early in the morning about 7 am. Perhaps go through immigration some where else, like Vancouver.

  5. Rob|

    Flew out of yyz to USA on Oct.8 (Thanksgiving long weekend). 1pm flight. Airport was empty. Cleared security and US customs in under 15 min. No line at either. Returned on a Wed 2pm. Same thing. No wait clearing CAN customs. I heard the same thing about long waits but that wasn’t my experience at all.

  6. Lee|

    You could fly into Toronto the entire time during covid. Flying was always allowed. Driving across was not. I have nexus and my friend is always allowed even tho she doesn’t have a card.

  7. Lise|

    All you need to do is look at the numbers of deaths from the US compared to Canada to figure out how effectively Canada has handled Covid compared to the US. Any criticism of waiting at the airport is immature. Perhaps say “Thanks for watching out for us” instead.

  8. Brad|

    I have gone through this airport 5 times since the end of August and the Nexus line has even been a big wait. I showed up for a domestic flight almost 2 hours before it was boarding. By the time I got through I had 15 minutes.

  9. Allan Bondi|

    Nexus line for security is closed at Terminal 1 for US departures so Nexus won’t help you deal with the first line up

  10. Anonymous|

    We flew out from Pearson yesterday to Tampa . We arrived 4 hours before our flight. We weren’t allowed to line up for our flight until 7am then we stood still for 1 1/2 hours. Once we were allowed to move towards customs , because we had Nexus , we were through in 20 mins , however the people standing next to us in the original line took 2 hrs and 20 mins to get through. We sat on the plane for an hour and a half waiting on all those poor folks to get on board.

  11. T|

    In Canada, Nexus holders can bring travelling companions with them in the priority security line, as long as they’re flying on the same flight. So as long as one of you has a valid Nexus card and are on the same flight you can bring the whole family through priority security screening.

  12. Victor charles|

    I flew in YYZ last month too and the custo.s and immigration even with a winding crowd moved fast.
    On my way back to BOS AC told me to get there 3 hrs early but that was not necessary since I zipped thru cust and imm. easily but a long wait for flight.

  13. Skirt|

    It is a complete b.s. I have been flying from Chicago to Toronto a lot lately, and never waited for more than 5 min. Just Google search for Pearson airport waiting times.

  14. Tara|

    Yes you can bring family without a nexus card with you when going through security in the nexus line up, no you can’t use the nexus machines in the nexus line in customs unless everyone in your party has a nexus card.. long lines at one end or another if someone is missing a nexus card..

  15. Carlo|

    This article seems made to spread misinformation. The Nexus card is not something that is used only in Toronto or that is causing issues to travelers in Toronto. If you have problems with your Nexus card, you have problems in all Canada (which includes more cities than just Toronto) plus in the US. If you have problems with your Nexus card, sad to say, it’s your personal problem, I wouldn’t title an article “Toronto Pearson Airport Warning”.

    About the waiting times, they are probably not even compable to the waiting times at most US international airports. Lines at the customs in the US have always been extremely long and I missed my flight a couple of times because of that (until I learned to keep at least 4 hours between flights if I need to go through US customs).

  16. JOhn MacLennan|

    Skirt: It’s not BS at all. We flew from ORD on Labor Day weekend to TO and upon arrival it was total chaos. It was impossible to find a line for the kiosks, as there were just so many people milling about. Then trying to find the line to clear Customs/Immigration was equally confusing and jammed. International arrivals (non US) were not allowed to deplane.

    1. Skirt|

      I just flew again from ord to yyz and it took me less then 10 min from the plain to the up express.

  17. Kathy Millard|

    I flew from Toronto to New York ( La Guardia) 3 times in the last 2 months. Each time, my flight departed at 9 in the morning. Arriving 3 hours early was a definite necessity every time! I have never seen lines like that all going to the US. Do not dream of 6 feet distances! The wait time, at about 8 pm. upon arrivals in Toronto took 2 to 3 hours, as well. Arrivals from all over the world, not just US are accommodated in the same space at that time. The lineups test your nerves, but the actual “check out” with your arrive Can and negative test in hand, takes just 3 or 4 minutes.

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