From the moment you enter a Canadian airport, to the moment you board your plane, you’re entering a complex current, which airports strive to make seamless for travellers like you. Canadian airports across the country work hard to make sure this current is harmony in motion with those who fly with us. That means passenger flow is a top priority – getting travellers onto their planes as quickly as possible. So how do we do it? Well, it’s taken years of work and millions of dollars of investment to make passenger flow smooth. Here are four ways we make it happen:
1. Getting to the airport
Step one is getting from your home to the airport as quickly and smoothly as possible.
“Getting to and from the airport is something Canada’s airports have spent a lot of time on over the last 20 years,” says Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council.
It’s an issue that has required close coordination with local, provincial and federal governments. Road access is one part of the story, but in the last decade, the importance of transit access has exploded. Transit has become a top priority for airports… sometimes with spectacular results.
“The Canada Line was put in place in time for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010,” says Gooch, “with investments by the airport authority and three levels of government.”
“As part of our commitment to sustainable transportation, we invested $300 million in the Sea Island portion of the Canada Line, which opened in 2009,” says Craig Richmond, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver International Airport. “The Canada Line has been a big success, greatly helping YVR achieve its environmental targets with some of the highest transit ridership in North America.”
2. Checking in
Once you walk into the airport terminal, step two is checking in. Check-in technology today is light years ahead of what it was even a decade ago.
“Airports have invested millions of dollars into self-service check-in kiosks, which are ‘common use,’ so that they can be used by travellers regardless of the airline they are flying,” Gooch points out, “not to mention self-serve baggage drops. Technologies like these help travellers get through the check-in process more efficiently.”
3. Getting through security and across borders
Your bags are checked in and you have your boarding pass. Step three is security screening, which is operated and run by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), a federal crown corporation. CATSA is funded by travellers through their Air Travellers Security Charge, but not all of this money has always made its way to support the service. Fixing this disconnect in resources has been a priority for Canada’s airports.
“There’s a growing concern as the pace of government funding hasn’t kept pace with the growth in travellers,” Gooch says. “Travellers need to get through screening in a reasonable amount of time, and a predictable amount of time, so they can better gauge how early they need to get to the airport.”
“Having served 44.3 million passengers in 2016 and growing well above worldwide industry trends, Toronto Pearson is a significant facilitator of economic activity for Southern Ontario, the province and the country at large,” says Howard Eng, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). “This pace of growth is forecast to continue and even accelerate in the years to come.
“The GTAA is committed to making the ongoing investments needed to maintain its status as a world-class hub, but we also need to ensure that government funding to improve security wait times increases in step with the growth we’re experiencing,” Mr. Eng continues. “Security wait times are a key element of the passenger journey and our performance in this regard needs to be among the best in the world if Toronto Pearson is to remain a strong driver of economic activity in Canada.”
Setting aside domestic travel, international travel adds its own set of challenges to passenger flow. Just like with the check-in experience, technology is playing a big role in smoothing the ride. That includes big investments in automated border clearance kiosks and specific kiosks for entry into the United States.
Working with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), a federal agency that is responsible for customs services, many of these projects were supported by millions of dollars in investments by airports on behalf of their travellers.
“Over the years, we have invested a great deal in technological solutions that are key to improve passenger experience and passenger flow, including wayfinding, self-check-in, baggage self-drop, security at the border,” says Philippe Rainville, chief executive officer of Aéroports de Montréal. “Automated border clearance kiosks in Canada and Automated Passport Control for U.S. Preclearance have been well received by our passengers and have significantly improved passenger flow at our airport, especially at peak times. “
4. Picking up baggage
You’ve gotten through security and you’ve boarded your plane. Once you arrive safe and sound at your destination, the baggage system plays a big role in how quickly and efficiently you can move to your next stop. While invisible to travellers, the investments made in this area in recent years have been enormous – as Gooch puts it, to the tune of “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“It’s all about speeding up baggage transfer between aircraft,” he adds, “so travellers can make connections in less time and wait less for their bags at the end of their journey.”
“YYC Calgary International Airport has installed a state-of-the-art tote-based baggage system that moves bags more quickly through the entire departure, connection or arrival process — speeding up the scanning process, moving bags more quickly than conventional conveyor systems, and providing more accurate tracking of each bag as it moves through the system – which means bags get to the aircraft or the baggage carousel more quickly and reliably,” says Bob Sartor, president and chief executive officer of the Calgary Airport Authority.
These are only a few of the ways airports are working to get you where you need to go, as quickly and as easily as possible. We are working to make your experience as smooth as it can be, literally every step of the way – from the moment you leave your home to the moment your plane lands at its destination. Our goal is simple: harmony in motion, every time you fly with Canada’s airports.