TORONTO — Nearly 2.7 million passengers will travel through Pearson International Airport for the holidays and the organized chaos peaks today, with more than 130,000 passengers expected to go through the airport on this busiest day of the pre-holiday travel season.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says passengers can make their trip easier by reserving a parking spot, packing light and leaving holiday gifts unwrapped in carry-on luggage.
More than 44 million passengers travelled through Toronto Pearson in 2016, making it the second-busiest international airport in North America, according to the GTAA.
Meanwhile officials at Vancouver International Airport say they are expecting to see up to 83,000 passengers per day coming through the terminal during the peak of the holiday travel season.
And an average of 50,000 to 60,000 passengers are expected to depart and arrive at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal and more than one million over the season.
This season is shaping up to be a record-breaker for holiday travel as the country’s largest airports and highways are filled with Christmas commuters.
With Air Canada and rival WestJet Airlines carrying 7.9 and 9.7% more passengers for the first nine months of the year, the 2017 Christmas season should break travel records, said airline analyst Robert Kokonis of AirTrav Inc.
“This bodes well for the rest of the year and, I believe, into Christmas and winter 2018 periods.”
Traffic this year is up about 10% on the year as carriers have added new direct flights, particularly to international destinations.
“We will have a growth this year in passenger traffic for the holiday period and we will welcome our 18 millionth passenger,” said Trudeau International Airport spokeswoman Anne-Sophie Hamel.
Air Canada and WestJet Airlines said they are both expecting higher passenger volumes during the peak travel period but refused to provide forecasts. WestJet said it expects to beat the record 74,000 passengers it carried one day before Christmas last year.
Travelling through the U.S. could also take more time since the AAA expects a record 107.3 million holiday road and air travellers.
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) said it will add more workers to help meet heightened demand over the holiday, especially for peak travel days.
Passengers can ask questions of CATSA on Twitter or Facebook and send pictures of items to avoid surprises at the airport. Gifts should remain unwrapped for easier inspection if required. Some airports offer post-security wrapping services.