Travel Tips for Canadians Flying from U.S. Airports

Timing your Trip

To ensure a stress free and enjoyable experience, Canadian travellers flying from U.S. border city airports need to take extra care when planning and timing their trips. In addition to the usual considerations of traffic and distance, it’s also important to account for possible border delays and getting lost if it’s your first trip to a U.S. airport. In many cases, it makes sense to cross the border the day prior to your departure and stay at a hotel near your chosen U.S. airport the night before your departure.

Overnight Accommodations

Depending on the departure time of your flight and how far you live from the airport, you may want to consider arriving a day early and staying in a hotel close to the airport. This strategy ensures that you won’t run into any unexpected traffic and border crossing delays which may cause you to miss your flight.

Another advantage of staying at a local hotel prior to departure is that many hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the airport for guests.

Airport Parking / Park & Fly

Many U.S. airports near the Canadian border offer affordable long term parking on-site. However, airport parking in some larger airports such as Seattle, Detroit and Minneapolis can be more expensive, so off-site park and fly options should be explored.

In addition, some airport area hotels offer free transportation to and from the airport for hotel guests.

ID Requirements

Canadians flying from U.S. airports are required to have valid passports for international flights. It is recommended that your passport be valid for at least 6 months from the time of your departure.

For domestic flights within the United States, you may be able use your NEXUS card or a valid driver’s license to board your flight, although we recommend that you use a valid passport, even for domestic U.S. flights, as your alternate ID may be deemed unacceptable by airport security.

Travelling Alone with Minor Children

If you are travelling with minor children and you are (i) a single or divorced parent, (ii) travelling without your spouse, or (iii) travelling with children other than your own, we highly recommend that you obtain a notarized child travel consent letter that confirms you have the consent of the child’s parents to travel with you. Child travel consent letters are commonly requested by security officials when crossing the border and at the airport prior during check-in to help prevent child abductions.

If you fall into one of these categories and do not have proper documentation, you may be refused entry into the United States, prevented from boarding your flight, and in some instances detained.

Crossing the Border & Border Wait Times

Canadians flying from U.S. airports should account for possible border crossing delays when travelling to the airport. Depending on the time of year, time of day or weather conditions, Canadians may experience significant delays crossing the Canada – U.S border. Even during off times and in optimal weather conditions, border crossing delays may still occur. To help minimize the risk of missing a flight due to border crossing delays, Canadians should take the following precautions:

  • Check border wait times for delays before you depart for the airport.
  • Depart early to leave some extra time to account for possible border delays.
  • If appropriate, depart a day early and stay at a hotel near your U.S. departure airport the night prior to your flight.
  • Make sure you aren’t violating any laws or regulations when crossing the border that may give rise to security delays or refusal to enter the United States.

Getting There / Transportation

In most cases, the fastest, easiest and most cost effective way for Canadians to get to U.S. border airports is by driving. However, other transportation options do exist in some cases. Depending on your home city and how close you are to your desired U.S. airport, taxis, limos, shuttles and buses can be viable alternatives to driving. Cities that offer some or all of these transportation alternatives include Toronto, Vancouver and Windsor, among others.

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