Connecting at Pearson

Discussion in 'Canadian Trip Planning & Community Board' started by LuzzBightyear, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. LuzzBightyear

    LuzzBightyear Mouseketeer

    Nov 25, 2010

    Looking for insight from people who know Pearson fairly well…I haven’t traveled through there for US destinations in years!

    Basically, I am curious about the process and how long it takes when connecting in Toronto en route to MCO.

    Do I need to pick up my luggage before clearing US customs/immigration?
    If so, is it usually a long wait for luggage?
    What is the wait time at customs/immigration usually like?
    Is there a lot of walking between Air Canada domestic arrivals, US Customs, and Air Canada US departure gates?

    We are scheduled to touch down in TO from Halifax at 7:34pm and the Orlando flight leaves at 8:50pm. We will also have a person with slight mobility issues, which may slow us down a bit. Is this a comfortable amount of time between flights for everything involved?
  2. mayor

    mayor Earning My Ears

    Nov 12, 2008
    You will pick up your luggage just outside US immigration in Terminal 1 not in the normal baggage claim. After clearing customs you will put your bags back on a conveyor and be done with them. Luggage usually takes about 20 minutes after flight arrival to come out on the carousel. Have your US immigration form filled out before entering the baggage claim area.

    The distance to US customs and immigration can be a distance depending on your arrival gate but there are electric sidewalks. You might want to request the motorized cart transport from the gate if that would help.

    Usually there are only 15-20 people on line for immigration and the process is usually very quick.

    You should be okay on time but there will be no time to doddle.
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  4. 4stroke

    4stroke Mouseketeer

    Nov 15, 2009
    Just to add a bit to what Mayor said -

    Upon arrival from Halifax, you'll walk out of the secured area towards baggage claim, but follow the US flag that says 'connections' by hanging a hard right, and go up the escalator (elevator is there too).

    Again, follow the US Flag, and you'll pick up your baggage, then go into US Customs. After that, its through security into the US side.

    This could take some time, but since its evening, it is NOT at peak time, so I don't think it'll be a major concern.

    If you would like a wheelchair in YYZ, when you checkin at YHZ, mention that to the agent. She'll note that on your file, and then one should be awaiting you in YYZ with another agent to take the person with you all the way through.

    The only issue with THIS is that you typically have to wait for the flight to fully deplane for the wheelchair....this could take up some time too.

    I hope that helps.....

  5. ccudmore

    ccudmore DIS Veteran

    Apr 9, 2009
    Go to and select Terminal 3 (for WestJet) or Terminal 1 (for Air Canada) Connections and then Canada to US. This will give you a walk-through video of exactly what to expect when connecting.

    If for some reason or other your inbound flight is late and your connection is going to be close, don't be afraid to ask someone working in the line at the US pre-clearance area if you can get moved to the front of the line. They usually have no problems doing so.
  6. LuzzBightyear

    LuzzBightyear Mouseketeer

    Nov 25, 2010
    Well we got back from our trip a few weeks ago and I thought I would update this old thread with our experience in case others are thinking of a connecting flight through Toronto with a similar layover time (7:34-pm-8:50pm = 76 minutes).

    In short: don't do it!

    Per the pilot, we actually touched down a few minutes early from Halifax. However, we had to wait for a couple strollers that were sky-checked, which probably negated the early arrival, and by the time actually we got off the plane and into the terminal it was almost 8pm. There were three families traveling together and despite having a couple slow moving small children, they were in strollers and we all walked fairly quickly to the US departure area. 2/3 of the families got our bags relatively quickly, had no lines at customs, and very little wait going through US security. Still, with everything going in our favour, we arrived at the gate to Orlando when general boarding was almost done! If there had been any hiccups we would have been in trouble! Unfortunately, the other family we were with did experience a delay getting one of their four bags. Three of their pieces of luggage showed up with everyone else's but the fourth did not for like 15 minutes after (they had been talking to the airline by this point). It was final boarding call so I ran back to security to see where they were...they were just getting through security. Unfortunately, in their haste to not miss the plane, they forgot their bag with their camcorder in it at security.

    Anyway, by the time they got through security, and made it to the gate, they were the last ones to board the plane and the door was shut less than a minute after that. I had previously explained the situation to the gate agent...not sure what they would have done if the family had not shown up when they did.

    So if you feel like you are a very lucky person and things always go according to plan and you will hit no line ups, you may be just ok with a 76 minute layover that includes waiting for bags, clearing customs and going through US security, however I will definitely avoid flights in the future with similar steps unless I have at least a 2 hour cushion.
  7. Sue M

    Sue M DIS Veteran

    May 27, 2009
    Glad you made it back o.k.

    I hate connecting at Pearson, or any Canadian airport. It is a huge inconvienence to go get your luggage, go though customs, & re check your bags before going to the next flight.
    Last time we got off the plane at Pearson and looked at where are connection gate was, the flight board said CANCELLED :scared1: what a mess.

    So now I fly the U.S. airlines so I can just go through customs at home airport and get on my flight. Or fly from Seattle, for the cheap fares!

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