Waterloo region airport expects busiest holiday travel season ever

Waterloo region airport expects busiest holiday travel season ever

The holiday season is upon us. And as always, Ontario airports are flooded with people going to see family or visit tropical destinations on vacation.

But getting there takes time and patience. 

“It’s pretty busy, lot of lines. I wish it could go faster,” says London Knights player, Landon Sim, who was traveling earlier this week from Toronto Pearson Airport to Nova Scotia to spend Christmas with his family.

Sim’s advice is to “expect the worst and hope you get a better outcome.”

The Region of Waterloo International Airport is another bustling airport in Breslau, Ont. Director Chris Wood says they’re experiencing a record-breaking number of travelers this year. 

“We’re going to see, you know, upwards of half a million people use our airport in 2023,” Wood told CBC K-W’s The Morning Edition

This is a significant increase from years prior. In 2019, Wood says there were only about 80,000 passengers, and so far their highest yearly record to date was 150,000. 

At Pearson, more than one million people this week alone, or between 150,000 and 160,000 people daily, are expected to come into the airport, according to Fabrice de Dongo, spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

“This is one of the busiest times of the year,” De Dongo said on Tuesday.

Tips for a smooth travel experience

While Wood says showing up two to three hours early may not be necessary at the Region of Waterloo International Airport, he says keeping a little wiggle room is important.

“I know that a lot of people think, ‘Oh it’s a lot easier than Pearson. We’ll take our time and get there’ [but] especially now, give yourself a bit more time than you normally would.”

He also suggests travelers check in with their airline to make sure their flight is not delayed due to the weather. 

A man leaning on a red fire truck.
Chris Wood is the director of the Region of Waterloo International Airport. He says they are implementing a host of new changes to make traveling easier. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

Tamara Lopez, a border services officer at Toronto Pearson Airport says you can move faster through the airport if you keep travel documents like your passport and PR card ready. 

Since it’s the time of gift giving, Lopez also suggests returning residents keep handy the receipts of goods they acquired while abroad and make sure they are in gift bags or left unwrapped, so officers can easily verify the items to make sure they are allowed into the country. 

New changes at the Region of Waterloo International Airport

Wood says there are a host of new changes at the Region of Waterloo International Airport to make traveling easier. 

The first is a new lounge overlooking the runway where you can grab a bite before your flight. 

Wood also says they’ve implemented technology to measure flows and capacity to manage the traffic better. 

They also hope to expand the airport.

“Right now we’re in a planning phase. So we’re doing a master plan update. We hope to have it in front of the Regional Council in the first half of next year.”

But, it’s important for them to do it responsibly.

“We’re going to build it, when we need it, not build it and they will come, but build it when they come,” says Wood. 

The holiday season is upon us. And as always, Ontario airports are flooded with people going to see family or visit tropical destinations on vacation. But getting there takes time and patience.  “It’s pretty busy, lot of lines. I wish it could go faster,” says London Knights player, Landon Sim, who was traveling earlier this week…

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