NEWS

Holiday travel: Friday before Christmas the busiest time of year

12/19/2014 09:30 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST
It's the most wonderful time of the year — unless you happen to be travelling through an airport today, the last Friday before Christmas, and one of the busiest, most chaotic days of the year for anyone taking flights. 

All that holiday travel is also bound to result in longer lineups and delays.

Toronto's Pearson International Airport, Canada's biggest, normally handles about 100,000 passengers per day.

"Today, they are expecting a spike of 20 per cent — 121,000 people are expected to go through these gates," said Radio-Canada's Sebastien St. Francois.

St. Francois reported that about two million people will go through the Greater Toronto Area airport in the three-week period surrounding Christmas.

On Friday morning, though, the chaos has not yet set in.

"It was an easier morning than a lot of people were expecting it to be," St. Francois reported from the airport at about 8 a.m. ET. 

"Clearly, this morning, the feeling was that there was no real rush. People were coming in quite slowly, to be honest. No problems whatsoever — or almost — at check-in."

The next three busiest airports in Canada are:

- Vancouver International.

- Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International.

- Calgary International. 

The airports recommend that passengers arrive early, ensure they know their check-in options and flight departure times, and know baggage allowance rules, to prevent delays.

For domestic flights, WestJet and Air Canada earlier this year implemented fees for the first checked baggage item, and passengers are reminded to be aware of restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols when packing carry-on bags.

Montreal-Trudeau airport says wrapped gifts should be packed in checked baggage. Otherwise, gifts placed in carry-on luggage should be unwrapped, according to a notice on its website.

For travellers with pets, WestJet and Air Canada have banned large pets during this holiday travel time, due to capacity and weight restrictions.

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