A how-to guide for squeezing the most out of holiday travel delays

Shot from the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy.
Poster shot from the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. (- Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

For many, with the holidays comes some form of travelling. Whether you’re leaving the country for a much-needed vacat
ion and escaping winter or simply reuniting with family, you’re likely in for a long wait.

This year traveling may prove trickier than usual for Canadians. The climate of nervousness and tension that has spread throughout the world, due in part to recent terrorist attacks, is likely to result in tighter security measures for cross-border travellers.

Mix this with the usual Canadian winter conditions, often resulting in a few cancellations and delays throughout the winter season, and holiday travellers may be in for a time-consuming treat.

While there is no way to prevent delays and line ups, you can certainly plan for them. Let us guide you through the perks of departing from some of Canada’s major transportation hubs with the best ways to make use of your time while you wait.

Pearson Airport:

Here you may face some of the longest delays throughout this holiday season. In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and the suspected bombing of a Russian airplane, security has been heightened to maximum level. Expect stricter body and luggage screening, x-ray and metal detector scanning, explosive trace detection and passport verification.

If there’s anywhere you’d want to be during a delay, Pearson Airport is the number one choice. If you’re looking to relax, take advantage of the free Wi-Fi, the high-end chef-restos, the comfortable seating in the cafes and lounges, and if you want to catch some shut eye, there are more than 20 hotels to pick from in and around the airport.

If you’re looking to distract yourself and move around, visit the art exhibition and dinosaur fossils, courtesy of the AGO, presented in Terminal 1. Meantime, you can always get in your gym wear and break a sweat at the Good Life Fitness location that recently opened at the airport. And, last but not least, get your shopping done at the duty free shops or multiple shopping plazas spread throughout the airport.

Billy Bishop Airport:

Being a smaller regional airport, Billy Bishop Airport’s heightened security and screening shouldn’t impact the waiting times to the same extent as Pearson, due to smaller flights and smaller number of passengers.

However, if you are stuck with delays at Billy Bishop, there are a few options to pass your time. All of the airport’s lounges offer complimentary coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks and light snacks, or you can purchase full meals and alcohol at the To Go Foodbar. You can also get some shopping done at the convenient duty-free store.

But by far, the best thing to do at Billy Bishop is to actually step outside of the airport and look around. You are on an island, surrounded by enormous Lake Ontario, the perfect scenery for taking photographs and selfies. If you have time, walk through the newly built tunnel between the island and the mainland, about a five to six-minute walk. You won’t regret it.

Greyhound Bus:

Passing the time at Greyhound station is a little bit trickier as there isn’t much to do on these grounds. To keep entertained, you’d be wise to pack your own entertainment, such as a laptop Ipod and phone.

There are a few comfortable seats at the stations, but usually not enough for all passengers, so make sure to arrive early. There is free Wi-Fi, however, and power outlets available at your disposal.

Some of the drivers will allow passengers to wait out delays inside the bus they will be boarding, where there is good heating, extra leg room and passengers can surf ‘The Hound,’ a blog created by Greyhound that allows passengers to discuss the top places to visit and things to do at your destination.

VIA Rail:

If you are travelling in business class, sleeper plus class or if have bought a rail pass extra or VIA premier membership, you can wait out delays at one of the business lounges on location. The lounges offer dedicated personnel to help with travel needs plus spacious, comfortable seating, HD TV screens with news broadcasts, free non-alcoholic beverages, newspapers and Wi-Fi. They will even provide you with PC and Mac computers, laser printers and a conference room so you can finish your work.

For regular passengers with a regular old tickets, expect limited seating throughout the stations but you will have access to power outlets, free Wi-Fi and a selection of magazines. If you want to get some rest, there are multiple hotels surrounding the stations.