NEWS

Holiday travellers surge into airports

12/23/2011 10:28 EST | Updated 02/22/2012 05:12 EST

Tens of thousands of holiday travellers filled airports across the country Friday and set passenger records on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Toronto's Pearson International Airport, Canada's largest, was expecting 100,000 people — either flying through, taking off or landing from their terminals — following a similar count on Thursday. The airport sees more than 85,000 passengers on an average day.

Travellers saw big crowds and long lines as a 20 per cent increase in traffic was expected at terminals across the country.

Calgary-based WestJet said it was carrying nearly 52,400 people on Friday, a single-day record for the airline.

Unseasonably balmy weather co-operated in most parts of the country, though a snowstorm in Nova Scotia dumped 17 centimetres on Halifax Stanfield International Airport, delaying more than 20 flights and cancelling several.

At Pearson, passengers heard Christmas carollers singing throughout the terminals. The public can tweet in a carol request to @TorontoPearson until Saturday. Also, people can take their pictures with Santa's elves.

Officials at the Greater Toronto Airport Authority were advising passengers to arrive at the airport at least one extra hour ahead of normal check-in and boarding times.

As well, passengers who are travelling with gifts in their carry-on luggage are being asked to leave the gifts unwrapped as those packages may be inspected at security check points.

"If you have a gift on your carry-on, it cannot be wrapped, because you will be asked to unwrap it and that just slows down the process," spokesman Scott Armstrong said.

"Anything in your checked baggage can be wrapped or in a bag or whatnot, but if it's going on carry-on baggage it can't be wrapped."

In Vancouver, officials expect 60,000 passengers a day to pass through the international airport.

"Things have been steady since pretty early in the morning in domestic flights. That's perhaps the busiest part right now," CBC's Tim Weekes reported. "But we're also starting to see major crowds growing in the international flights."

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