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Flying out of Pearson? You can now book a spot in the security line online to cut wait times | CBC News

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is officially launching a free virtual booking system Thursday that allows travellers to book a spot in the security line ahead of their flight. 

YYZ Express is meant to help streamline the security check-in process for passengers and ultimately ease wait times that have ballooned this year for both international and domestic travellers. 

Deborah Flint, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) said the new system will help travellers “move more seamlessly through the airport.” 

“As we look toward holiday travel and connecting passengers with loved ones across the globe, YYZ Express is another step towards a fully digital journey for those passengers who want it,” Flint said in a news release. 

The move follows chaotic delays at Canada’s largest airport that peaked last summer amid labour shortages originally brought on by the pandemic. Amid complaints of long line-ups, cancelled flights, and missing baggage, Pearson was named the worst airport in the world for delays by the flight tracking service FlightAware. 

Travellers are pictured here walking through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 last June. Complaints of delayed flights, long line-ups, and lost baggage became commonplace at Pearson over the summer months. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

Since then, the GTAA has implemented a number of measures to help turn that reputation around. Pearson is now in 21st place on FlightAware’s global departure delays ranking. 

YYZ Express is the latest of those measures, allowing passengers to make an online reservation up to 72 hours before their flight. 

Travellers can visit the airport’s website to access the booking system, where they can choose an available reservation time. They must then arrive at the check-in point at the airport within 15 minutes of their reservation. 

This process can be done on-site from any device, as long as reservation times are still available. 

Christine Clutterbuck of Burlington, Ont., just learned of the new system ahead of her flight to Thunder Bay on Wednesday.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” she told CBC Toronto. “If you know you’re going to travel and you can book ahead of time, great.” 

Clutterbuck said she would usedthe system herself if she was travelling at a more high-traffic time. 

GTAA touting ‘digital solutions’ to airport’s problems

In September, Pearson launched a live dashboard that gives travellers real-time information about wait times for security screening, customs, check-in counters and baggage. 

The airport also created specific student visa processing areas to address September’s influx of international students. 

And later this year, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is planning to roll out a trusted traveller initiative that is also designed to make the security screening process more convenient.

The GTAA is also calling on the federal government to support changes that will address long-term systemic issues, including reopening NEXUS enrolment centres and clearing more than 500,000 applications. 

“We’re committed to equipping passengers with digital solutions that make travel more predictable,” Flint said.

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