Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) has been roasted by a Canadian comedian for doing what it apparently does best – let people down.
In a new video uploaded to YouTube, “brittlestar” – the stage name for Stratford, ON-based writer and performer Stewart Reynolds – delivers a “welcome message” for travellers arriving at Canada’s busiest airport.
“If you’re visiting Canada, let me be the first to say sorry,” says Reynolds, dressed in pilot’s uniform. “Not because it’s a Canadian stereotype, but because your time here at Pearson International Airport will be packed with disappointment, frustration and many, many times where you will ask yourself, ‘Why? Why would they do it like that?’”
Reynolds, branded as "the Internet’s favourite Dad," then takes a few sarcastic shots at some of Pearson’s shortcomings.
“Tired of sitting after a long flight? Don’t worry. Upon arrival, we’ll make you walk an unreasonable distance where you can race against the elderly,” he says. “…in some cases, it will feel like you’ve walked even farther than you just flew.”
He also takes aim Pearson’s new express lanes for ArriveCAN users at Canada customs, which Ottawa introduced to optimize the travellers’ experience.
“The app actually works great. However, the machines where you scan your passport and have your picture taken, do not. If you enjoyed Windows Vista, and having your picture taken on a screen that reverses your every move, focuses on every single impatient face behind you, and doesn’t work all the time, you’ll love these machines,” he says.
Pearson’s baggage claim, a source of frustration for some travellers as of late, also gets a mention.
“Not sure which carousel to find your luggage at? Don’t worry. We’ll cram every flight in a 24-hour period onto the same one. Let chaos reign!” Reynolds says.
The skit even extends to navigational challenges at Pearson’s parking garages with their “now you see them, now you don’t out signs.”
“Enjoy your time at Pearson International airport. Or don’t. We obviously don’t care,” Reynolds concludes.
The video comes as Toronto Pearson drops in rankings of the world’s top 100 airports.
According to Skytrax’s 2023 poll, YYZ now sits at No. 64 after previously being ranked at No. 43 last year.
It’s not the first time Pearson has ranked low in performance ratings. Last September, in a study by U.S. market research firm J.D. Power, which studied 20 “mega airports,” the facility ranked fifth-last in overall traveller satisfaction with 755 points on a 1,000-point scale.
Earlier, last summer, Pearson’s pain points made headlines as the airport, overwhelmed with staffing shortages and other pandemic-related inefficacies, claimed FlightAware’s top spot for flight delays worldwide, multiple times.
To be fair, a lot has happened since then. Toronto Pearson has introduced many tools to make the airport experience easier on travellers.
This includes YYZ Express (an online reservation program for security lines); Mobile Passport Control, or “MPC” (an app for submitting U.S. customs forms in advance); a wait time dashboard; and Advance Declaration for Canada customs via ArriveCAN.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Pearson, is also now limiting flights during peak travel times.
YVR & YUL fly forward
In Skytrax’ latest list, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) came in the highest of all Canadian airports at No. 20, up from its 2022 ranking of No. 28, while Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) was No. 45, up from No. 66 last year.
Skytrax’ 2023 list of the world’s Top 100 Airports was voted on by air travellers around the world in a 2022/2023 World Airport Survey, which covered various indicators, from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration to departure.
No. 1 this year on Skytrax’s list is Sinapore Changi, which is up two points from No. 3 last year. At the bottom, No. 100, is Christchurch, down from No. 79 in 2022.
Watch brittlestar’s jab at Toronto Pearson airport here.
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