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A guide to Canada’s busiest airport: Toronto Pearson International Airport

A guide to Canada’s busiest airport: Toronto Pearson International Airport


If you plan to fly into Toronto, there’s a good chance you’ll use Toronto Pearson International Airport, and flying by private jet charter will smooth your way. We’ve put together the important info you’ll need to make the most of your trip through one of the top airports in Canada.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is situated in the sprawling suburb of Mississauga, 25 miles (a 30-minute drive) from downtown Toronto, in Canada’s most populated province of Ontario. The airport covers 1,867 hectares and has five runways, an offering of cargo and maintenance facilities, and two passenger terminals able to handle domestic, trans-border, and international travelers.

Toronto Pearson processes about 49.5 million passengers a year and Toronto Pearson arrivals on any given day number in the hundreds. Around 1,250 Toronto Pearson departures carry passengers every day to more than 180 major and secondary cities around the world on both regular routes and to seasonal destinations like Barcelona, Munich, Rome, Sydney, Miami, Daytona Beach, and Granada. Commercial, cargo, and private flights operate in and out of Toronto Pearson.

A look back at Toronto Pearson Airport

Malton Airport main building in June 1939
Malton Airport main building in June 1939

In its 80-year history, Toronto Pearson International Airport has been known as Malton Airport, Pearson Airport, and Lester B. Pearson International Airport (in honor of Lester B. Pearson – Nobel Peace Prize laureate and 14th Prime Minister of Canada).

An aircraft first landed at the airport in 1939. During World War II – from 1940 to 1946 – the airport was used by the Canadian Air Force. Malton Airport became Toronto International Airport in 1958 when the City of Toronto sold the airport to the Canadian Government. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) assumed management of the airport in 1996.

Toronto Pearson terminals

Inside Toronto Pearson Airport terminal
Inside Toronto Pearson Airport terminal

Toronto Pearson Airport has two active public terminals: 1 and 3. Since both Toronto Pearson terminals handle domestic, trans-border, and international flights, terminal operations are grouped for airlines and airline alliances. What happened to Terminal 2? It became part of an expanded Terminal 1 in 2007, now a 3,724,000-square-foot area, which makes it the biggest airport terminal in Canada and the 12th biggest in the world. Terminal 1 houses standard customs and immigration facilities.

Terminal 3’s Grand Hall measures 1,916,000 square feet, and a third public terminal – the Infield Concourse (IFC) – provides additional bridged gates for Toronto Pearson flights as an extension of Terminal 3. The main air traffic control tower at Toronto Pearson is situated in the infield operations area of the airport.

Toronto Pearson is one of the best private airports in Canada and its 8,611-square-feet VIP Terminal in the infield area of the airport handles private jets to Toronto. Passengers on private flights are offered exclusive services that include a 24/7 concierge, private customs and immigration facilities, personalized catering, showers, direct handling of baggage, and VIP ground transportation services.

Passengers can move between Toronto Pearson terminals and the Viscount Value Park Lot via the Link Train. The link operates 24-hours daily, with trains departing from all stations every four to eight minutes.

The three main cargo facilities at Toronto Pearson Airport handle more than 50% of total international air cargo in Canada. The multi-tenant facility covers 566,000 square feet of warehouse space, a common use cargo apron, and vehicle parking. The Infield Cargo Area is connected to the passenger terminals by a four-lane tunnel.

Toronto Pearson offers all the amenities expected of one of the top airports in Canada, as well as a few you probably wouldn’t expect. Restaurants include bars, budget-friendly breakfasts, family restaurants, coffee shops, and healthy food choices. Six passenger lounges offer cooking stations, meals, drinks and snacks, computer stations, and a small meeting room.

The airport offers several retail experiences, and passengers are also able to use the medical clinic, pharmacy, and health spa. For families, there are nursing rooms and pods, and there is a large comfortable area where companion animals can relax, stretch, and have a toilet break.

Toronto Pearson ground transportation

Inside Union Pearson Express railway station
Inside Union Pearson Express railway station

An airport rail link – the Union Pearson Express – connects Toronto Pearson Airport with Union Station in Downtown Toronto. Trains leave the airport every 15 minutes between 5:27 am and 12:57 am. They leave from Toronto Pearson Terminal 1 station and take 25 minutes to reach Union Station. Bus services operated by TTC, GO Transit, MiWay, and Brampton Transit, run 24-hours daily from the airport to a number of stations in Toronto.

Passengers also have the choice of a daily intercity Greyhound Canada coach service, car rentals, taxicabs and limousines, long-distance van and minibus shuttle operators, as well as Uber and Lyft services at designated rideshare pickup zones at both Toronto Pearson terminals.

For passengers who would like to travel by car, Toronto Pearson parking has 12,200 spaces available in garages adjacent to Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, and there are plenty of parking lots available in the immediate area of the airport.

Toronto Pearson airport hotels & hotels close to Toronto Pearson airport

Toronto Pearson airport hotels include the ALT Hotel which you’ll find next to Viscount station, accessible on the free Terminal Link train, and the Sheraton Gateway Hotel directly connected to Terminal 3.

Visitors to Toronto are spoiled for choice when it comes to hotels close to Toronto Pearson airport. The Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is a 202-room luxury hotel in a 66-story tower on University Avenue at Adelaide Street. The hotel incorporates the historic Bishops Block – one of Toronto’s oldest remaining buildings. The Bisha Hotel Toronto puts you within walking distance of some of Toronto’s most popular surf and turf restaurants, as well as the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, and Graffiti Alley.

The Ritz-Carlton Toronto is a AAA Five Diamond award-winning hotel, close to Toronto’s financial district and cultural attractions. Thompson Toronto in the diverse and artistic King West Village offers 102 ultra-sleek guestrooms with panoramic views of the Toronto cityscape. For pure luxury, the Windsor Arms Hotel in the heart of Toronto’s fashionable shopping and entertainment district has been voted the #1 hotel in Toronto by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

You’re well-placed to enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Niagara Falls. You can also visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Toronto Eaton Centre for some retail therapy, the must-see Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum, and the Entertainment District on King Street that comes to life in the evenings.

If you’re planning to travel to Toronto, Canada, get in touch with Air Charter Service for expert advice about the best private airports in Canada, as well as the most efficient routes and aircraft for your next journey.

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