Families and friends travelling together

Top Tips for Airport Travel During March Break

Published: March 7, 2023

Updated: February 25, 2024

Do you have a March Break vacation planned? You’re not alone! March Break is a peak travel time, particularly for families, and it’s one of the busiest times of year to be passing through Pearson Airport.

If you will be travelling with young children or pets, you might be feeling a little stressed at the thought of navigating an extra busy airport, and wondering what to expect. Luckily, Pearson Airport has child-friendly and pet-friendly amenities to make your time at the airport more enjoyable, and a relaxing ride there on UP Express — with free travel for kids 12 years and under — is a great way to start your stress-free vacation.

We’ve also got some extra tips to help you prepare for your trip and make sure that your March Break getaway starts with a smooth take-off!

Planning Your March Break Trip

If you haven’t done so already, the first thing you need to do to get organized is plan your trip!

Where Should You Go on March Break?

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Cruises, theme park trips, all-inclusive Caribbean resorts, or visiting family in other parts of Canada or abroad. These are all popular getaway options for a March Break vacation. To decide which type of vacation is the best for your travel group, think about the ages of everyone in your party and the kinds of activities that would interest everyone. Do you like relaxing on a beach, exploring cultural and historic landmarks, or thrill-seeking?

If you need some March Break family vacation ideas, check out these Top 10 Destinations!

March Break Vacation Budgeting

An important tip for planning any trip is to know your budget and stick to it. Your vacation should be a break from your everyday stresses, but if you’re worried about going into debt, there is no way you’ll be able to relax.

If you’re wondering how to get to Pearson Airport, you can save money when you ride the UP Express instead of paying for a week of airport parking. At just $12.35 standard fare for adults, PRESTO discounts for adults, seniors and youth/post-secondary students - and free travel for kids 12 years and under! UP’s affordable fares and reliable service will help you start relaxing before your vacation even begins. The UP Family fare is perfect if you’re travelling with your teenaged children. It’s just $25.70 for 2 adults and up to 3 children 19 years and under! You can also travel with friends and faimly with UP Group Pass! Groups of 3-5 people travelling together save on trips to and from Pearson Airport

If you’re still looking for a good budget-friendly getaway, check out our Top Tips for Finding the Best Travel Deals!

Pack To Be Prepared

Packing checklists are your friends! There’s nothing worse than arriving at your vacation destination and realizing that you left some essentials at home. If you’re taking a family vacation and packing for several people, you’ll have a lot to remember so give yourself a week to continually add to your packing checklist as you think of the things that everyone will need on a daily basis.

But remember — while you don’t want to omit any necessities, don’t over pack your suitcases or you may end up paying extra at the airport for overweight bags. Check your airline’s website for their policy on baggage weight restrictions.

Travelling with only carry-on luggage can be a great way to save time when you arrive at your destination airport, but it might not be possible if you’re travelling with small children. It’s always a good idea to bring at least one change of clothing for everyone in your carry-on, however. As well as any items that you may need immediately upon arrival or during your flight — medications, children’s special plush toys, etc.

Kids love to be involved in vacation prep, but you’ll need to have your own packing checklist and double check what goes in their suitcases. Otherwise you might arrive at your destination to find that your child has a bathing suit and pool toys, but nothing else!

Popping a Bluetooth tracker inside each suitcase makes it easy to locate your bags and it’s great for peace of mind.

Tips For Travelling With Children

Family holidays are so much fun, but you do need to do a little more planning when travelling with young children. If it’s your child’s first time flying, be sure to let them know what to expect at the airport and on the plane. Going through security, the sound of the engines, and the feeling of take-off could make little ones nervous if they’re not prepared. Books or TV shows about taking an airplane for the first time can help put your child’s mind at ease. 

Extra Planning Considerations

A young child looks out of a train window.

Even as an adult, you may find it difficult to wait in airport line-ups and then take a long flight. Don’t forget that it’s even harder for kids to stay seated for extended periods of time!

Plan for the inevitable boredom by packing a backpack for each child to carry on the plane. Colouring books (mess free ones are great!), stickers, small toys, and picture books are perfect for the little ones. Older kids may enjoy audiobooks or even guidebooks on your vacation destination.

Snacks are a must for every age group. Solid food items like granola bars, sandwiches, muffins, and fruit are allowed in your carry-on bag and will help prevent kids getting hangry mid-flight! If you’re travelling with an infant under 2 years old, you are also welcome to bring baby food, breast milk, and formula on the plane.  

And, even if you tend to limit technology at home, you might want to consider loosening the rules for travel time. Some videos and games on a tablet can make flying with kids a little easier.

Riding UP Express to Pearson Airport can be part of the fun for kids since it’s something different than travelling by car. We have free Wi-Fi on trains and in stations, as well as charging outlets on board, for those tablets that you’re bringing, and kids 12 years and under always travel for free on UP!

Do I Need a Consent Letter?

If you’re travelling with children that aren’t yours (grandchildren, nieces/nephews, step-children, etc.), make sure you carry a consent letter to show Canada Customs when you re-enter the country. A consent letter simply states that you have permission to be travelling with the child.

It’s also a good idea to carry a consent letter if you are the parent but the child’s other parent is not accompanying you on the trip.

Consent letters aren’t a legal requirement in Canada, but they can simplify any questions you may get from immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, or from Canadian officials when you re-enter Canada. They’re an easy way to make your airport experience go smoothly.

You can learn everything you need to know about consent letters on the Government of Canada website.

Tips For Travelling With Pets

Your pets are a part of your family, so naturally you might want to include them on your family vacation. But, if this is your first time flying with furry family members, you probably have some questions. Well, don’t worry — we have answers!

Things To Know When Flying With Pets

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If you’re travelling through Pearson Airport with your furry babies, make sure you check Pearson Airport website to learn the airport requirements and locations of relief areas in Terminal 1 and 3, and different rules apply if travelling with service animals. More importantly, check with your airline’s pet policy and restrictions, as some airlines don’t allow passengers to bring a pet on board. You’ll need to register your pet at time of booking, and then reconfirm that you are bringing them prior to checking in with your airline.

When you’re preparing for a trip with your pet, remember that you want your furbaby to be comfy! Be sure that you have a good pet carrier with ample space for your four-legged friend. 

It’s a good idea to tape a photo of your pet to the top of your pet carrier and write your name and phone number on it. This will ensure that your pet is easily identifiable and you can be quickly reached in case of any problem.

The Government of Canada website has more information about travelling with your pet so that you can feel completely prepared for the trip.

UP Pet Policy

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You don’t need to drive your car to Pearson Airport just because you’re bringing your pet on holiday!

Two leashed dogs can travel with you when you board on weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. until the end of service, and all day on weekends and holidays.

Outside of these hours, dogs are welcome on board but must be in a pet carrier that can fit on your lap or under your seat. All other pets must be in a carrier at all times while on board.

Service animals are welcome on board with their owners all day, every day.

You can read all the rules about travelling on UP with your pet in our FAQ section.

Heading To The Airport

You’re packed and ready, so it’s time to get yourself to the airport!

Before You Leave Home

Before you leave the house, it’s a good idea to check and see if your flight is on time or if there are any delays. It’s important to arrive at the airport early, but you don’t want to be there all day if you don’t have to be!

To save time when you arrive at the airport, check in online and print your boarding pass before you leave home.

Plan Your Transportation

UP Express Long Layover Return Ticket helps you visit Toronto’s top attractions during a layover

A relaxing ride to the airport means a stress-free start to your vacation. Your choices for transportation include airport limos, a ride sharing service, driving your own car and paying for airport parking, or using public transportation..

UP Express trains run every 15 minutes, 7 days a week — and it’s just a 25-minute ride from Union Station! With free Wi-Fi and plenty of luggage storage, you can sit back and relax on your way to Pearson Airport. We also have real-time flight information screens at UP Union Station so you can check your flight status again before you get on the train, and the convenient Balzac’s location is perfect if you didn’t have time to make coffee before leaving the house.

Give Yourself Lots of Time

You’ll need to arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of your flight for domestic travel, and 3 hours ahead of your flight for international travel, so plan to leave your house with enough time to get to the airport in time. 

UP Express trains leave every 15 min from UP Union Station and it’s just a 25-minute ride to Pearson Airport, so it’s easy to plan your arrival time.

Navigating the Airport

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As the second largest airport in North America, and the biggest one in Canada, Pearson can be a little overwhelming if you’re not a regular visitor. But just take it step by step, and you’ll be on your plane and heading off to your vacay spot in no time!

Flight Check In

If you didn’t check in online, head to a touchless self-serve check-in kiosk when you arrive at the airport. If you’re checking luggage, there are automated baggage drops in both terminals. Make sure all your checked bags are within weight and size allowances to avoid extra fees.

Going Through Security

Going through security is easier than ever with Pearson’s new online reservation system for security screening. You can reserve your spot up to 72 hours in advance of your flight. It’s completely free and helps you avoid standing in a line-up with restless kids or pets.

To have a stress-free airport experience, it’s also a good idea to double check the rules on which items you can and can’t bring through security, and familiarize yourself ahead of time with the security protocol. 

Review the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website for the latest on what is allowed through security.

Be ready to remove your shoes, belt, watch and any other metal item. Children aged 12 and under don’t need to remove their shoes.

If you’re carrying a laptop, you’ll need to remove it from its case or bag and place it in a separate bin. Children’s tablets or other electronic devices also need to be placed in their own bin for x-ray screening. It’s a good idea to warn kids about this ahead of time and reassure them that their devices will be returned. 

If you’re travelling with a stroller, car seats, or infant carriers, be aware that these will need to be inspected by security. Any baby food or drinks that you are bringing on board, including bottles of formula or breast milk, will also need to be inspected.

Remove your jewelry before entering security. There will be bins provided to keep loose items together.

Put all containers with liquid in a clear plastic bag with a capacity of no more than 1L. Each container can hold a maximum of 100 ml, with the exception of hand sanitizer (355 ml allowance). 

If you’re vacationing with your pet, be aware that all passengers travelling with live animals must undergo explosive trace detection testing.

And, of course, don’t forget to have your boarding pass and passport ready.

Boarding Your Plane

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Once you’re through security, you can relax for a while. Check out the shops and food kiosks. If you’re travelling with children, use this time to wander around and get some energy out — save the devices for the plane ride.

You’ll also find some great amenities for kids and babies at Pearson Airport. There’s a children’s play area in Departure Lounge D24 in Terminal 1, and several nursing pods and rooms in both terminals. And, of course, just walking around and looking out the windows at different planes can be fascinating for both babies and kids!

Your pets are required to be carriers while you are inside the airport, however, there are several Pet Relief Areas in both terminals so your four-legged friends can stretch their legs and take care of business before boarding.

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Grab some snacks and a bottle of water while you’re waiting to board. There are lots of shops and food options at Pearson. Once you’re through security, you can purchase liquids (water, juice, coffee, etc.) and bring them on the plane.

When it gets closer to your boarding time, head to your departure gate.

Listen for your row to know when to board. Families with small children and persons with disabilities will usually have priority boarding.

Tip: If your children don’t like sitting for long periods of time (most children!), you don’t have to board early. You can give them the extra time to move their bodies and get those wiggles out before boarding with the rest of your row.  

Arriving At Your Destination

When you arrive at your destination airport, follow the signs to Baggage Claim. Check the monitors to find the carousel that corresponds to your flight number.

Returning Home

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If you are travelling internationally, you’ll need to go through Canada Customs when you return.

Have your bags, entry documents, and ID ready for inspection. A passport is the preferable piece of identification for entry into Canada. Other acceptable identification include an enhanced driver's license, a birth certificate with accompanying photo ID (such as a regular driver's license), a permanent resident card, a citizenship card or a certificate of Indian status.

Be prepared to show items that you purchased to customs officers if asked. Souvenirs are great, but certain goods are prohibited from entering Canada. Familiarize yourself with the rules on what you can bring home to Canada.

Whether you are leaving or returning to Canada, you must declare if you are carrying more than $10,000 CDN.

Is someone meeting you at the airport when you return? They can save money by using an UP Meeter and Greeter Return ticket. It’s just $12.35 and the fare expires within 4 hours of the trip start time.

Enjoy Your March Break Vacation

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March Break might be a busy time to be travelling by air, but with Pearson’s helpful amenities, and a little preparation, you’ll have a smooth airport experience and a fantastic start to your fun vacation!

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