Take Offs & Land­ings

The winds of change may be sweep­ing across the busiest skyscape in Canada

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE EVERY ISSUE - By Jerome Greer Chan­dler

Winds of change may be sweep­ing across Toronto’s air­port scene. Plus Abu Dhabi’s pre-clear­ance pro­posal hits a road­block. Con­struc­tion un­der­way at Gatwick. Tampa gets real-time gate in­for­ma­tion dis­play. SEA un­veils new United lounge. Love the up­dates at DAL.

There’s a bat­tle brew­ing north of the bor­der for the hearts and pock­et­books of busi­ness trav­el­ers. Two air­ports – one large, the other small – are vy­ing for your fa­vor. Car­ri­ers covet busi­ness trav­el­ers, and busi­ness trav­el­ers crave air­fields close to the ac­tion, near the city cen­ter. Toronto Pear­son In­ter­na­tional (YYZ) is 18 miles dis­tance from down­town, and the drive is a pain. Tiny Billy Bishop (YTZ) is al­most in down­town Toronto. In­deed, lo­cals still re­fer to the place as Toronto City Cen­tre Air­port.

Porter Air­lines is YTZ’s prime player, field­ing com­par­a­tively clo­sein Q400 prop­jet flights from down­town Toronto to eastern Canada and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. If you live in or near Bos­ton, Burlington, VT, New York City, Wash­ing­ton, DC, Myr­tle Beach, SC, even as far afield as Chicago, you can catch a quiet Q400 prop­jet to Billy Bishop and be – quite lit­er­ally – at the doorstep of down­town Toronto. The air­port is a scant two miles away from the city’s vi­brant fi­nan­cial and en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts.

Lo­cals love Billy too, so much so that a poll by Fo­rum Re­search finds a full 47 per­cent of them would like the air­port opened up to pure jet flights, some­thing that’s cur­rently pro­hib­ited.

Pure-jets, specif­i­cally the quiet, Cana­dian-built Bom­bardier CS100, would al­low Porter to ex­tend YTZ’s reach as far as Calgary, or the West Coast of the United States. The poll in­di­cates grow­ing sup­port for ren­der­ing Billy Bishop a pure-jet port – even though that would en­tail length­en­ing the run­way.

Porter seems op­ti­mistic the skyscape will change, that the cur­rent ban on pure-jets will be lifted. It has a con­di­tional deal with Bom­bardier to ob­tain at least a dozen CS100s, which can seat 110 pas­sen­gers.

Porter isn’t the only player at Bishop. Air Canada too flies Q400 prop­jets from its close-in con­fines. The route links Toronto with Mon­treal.

But Toronto Pear­son In­ter­na­tional is Air Canada’s do­main, and it’s dom­i­nant there.

Lo­cals love Billy Bishop, so much so that a full 47 per­cent of them would like the air prt opened up to pure jet flights

Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional - North Amer­ica ranks YYZ, as the 15th-busiest air­port on the con­ti­nent, one slot be­low Ne­wark and just ahead of Min­neapo­lis/ Saint Paul. ACI-NA’s lat­est tally shows 33,118,499 souls passed through Toronto in 2011, a ro­bust (re­mem­ber the state of the econ­omy) jump over 2010 fig­ures.

From YYZ, Air Canada will fly you non­stop or di­rect to a slew of in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions, ap­prox­i­mately 50 in all – that’s not count­ing trans­bor­der flights to the United States. Among AC’s routes: Tokyo Narita, Tel Aviv, Lon­don Heathrow, Lima and Hong Kong.

AC’s trans­bor­der lift from the United States is equally prodi­gious, ri­val­ing US car­rier feed into their in­ter­na­tional gate­ways. In all, Air Canada con­nects Pear­son with some 50 US cities, to mid-size towns like Al­bany and Grand Rapids as well as places like Los An­ge­les and Fort Laud­erdale. Over­all, air­lines serv­ing Toronto Pear­son loft non­stop or same-plane ser­vice to more than 180 des­ti­na­tions.

Fur­ther smooth­ing US con­nec­tions is pre-clear­ance. In­stead of clear­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion in, say, Ne­wark, you do so be­fore you board the plane in Toronto. Saves con­sid­er­able time when you ar­rive back home.

Do­ing Busi­ness at YYZ

Pear­son’s air­borne con­nec­tiv­ity is ter­rific; the ground-bound va­ri­ety is a work in progress. It’s that long drive to the air­port that irks Pear­son pas­sen­gers. Lo­cal lead­ers know that, and they’ve come up with a so­lu­tion: the Union Pear­son Ex­press, a rail line that’s slated to con­nect YYZ’s Ter­mi­nal 1 with Union Sta­tion by 2015. Ground ac­cess to the air­port has been the Achilles heel of Toronto’s prime air por­tal for decades, and a fix is at hand.

Mean­while you’re go­ing to have to put up with the traf­fic. A taxi ride down­town runs be­tween $45 and $55 and takes about 40 min­utes – if you hit the traf­fic right. A more af­ford­able op­tion is the Air­port Ex­press Shut­tle to key down­town ho­tels. The one-way ride runs $23.95.

The first thing you need to know about Pear­son from a busi­ness per­spec­tive is that it’s among the grow­ing list of en­light­ened air­ports where WiFi is free. The sec­ond is that you need be nei­ther a pre­mium pas­sen­ger nor teth­ered to a par­tic­u­lar car­rier or air­line al­liance to get into one of YYZ’s four Plaza Pre­mium Lounges. The price is $30 to gain ad­mis­sion to a cou­ple of hours of seren­ity. The Ter­mi­nal 1 in­ter­na­tional lounge is at the end of Pier F, Level 3, near Gate E77. The Ter­mi­nal 1 do­mes­tic en­clave is also on Level 3, this time near do­mes­tic se­cu­rity screen­ing. In Ter­mi­nal 3 you’ll find the in­ter­na­tional lounge just across from Gate 33, and the do­mes­tic one just past Gate B24.

Toronto Pear­son is one of those rel­a­tively rare air­ports blessed with a le­git­i­mate “in-air­port” ho­tel. The name says it all: Sher­a­ton Gate­way Ho­tel in Toronto In­ter­na­tional Air­port. There’s di­rect in­door

ac­cess from Ter­mi­nal 3. This Sher­a­ton comes com­plete with a 24-hour fit­ness cen­ter and in­door pool to work out the kinks af­ter those long transoceanic flights.

Food, Glo­ri­ous Food

If your T&E bud­get doesn’t rate an up front seat in the pointy end of the plane, at least you don’t have go hun­gry. If you’re trav­el­ing in­tra-Canada out of Pear­son check out Boc­cone Pronto in Ter­mi­nal 1. The guy who runs the place, restau­ra­teur and award-win­ning author Mas­simo Capra, knows what he’s do­ing. Mas­simo is a lo­cal celeb of sorts, with restau­rants such as Mis­tura and So­pra Up­per Lounge, as well as the Rain­bow Room in nearby Ni­a­gara Falls. Boc­cone Pronto is, as the name im­plies, a grab-and-go sort of place, but the food is su­perb. You’ll find Boc­cone Pronto near Gate F61.

More widely, you can or­der up food from a num­ber of chef-driven eater­ies at the air­port us­ing iPads that are in­te­grated into restau­rant ar­eas of Ter­mi­nals 1 and 3, in­clud­ing Heir­loom in Ter­mi­nal 1. One op­tion there is the Detox Salad, a healthy af­fair loaded with stuff that’s good for you.

Toronto is a techie town, and the aura ex­tends to the air­port. In ad­di­tion to or­der­ing food via iPad you can also pe­ruse a pair of iS­tore lo­ca­tions in the air­port. There’s one store each in Ter­mi­nal 1 and 3. Lap­tops, tablets, e-read­ers and the like from com­pa­nies such as Ap­ple, Sony and such live there. The new­est iS­tore is in Ter­mi­nal 3, near do­mes­tic gate B26.

Mean­while, Back at Billy Bishop

What you can’t do at Pear­son is get to the air­port via fer­ry­boat. At Billy Bishop, you can. It’s surely one of the short­est wa­ter cross­ings in ex­is­tence.YTZ, you see, is ac­tu­ally out on an is­land. More pro­saically you can grab a cab, take a street­car, ride a shut­tle or even bike to the pock­et­port. Come the spring of 2014, fliers will have an­other op­tion: an 800-foot pedes­trian tun­nel con­nect­ing YTZ to the main­land.

Billy Bishop is con­sum­mately con­ve­nient. The only things miss­ing (so far) is pre-clear­ance for flights to the United States, and jet ser­vice. Oth­er­wise YTZ is the tem­plate for what a small, busi­ness trav­eler-ori­ented air­port should be.

And so it’s your choice: Pear­son or Billy Bishop. The for­mer links you to the wider world, the other would very much like to ex­pand its reach. BT

Toronto City Cen­tre Air­port

Toronto Pear­son In­ter­na­tional

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