Top 5 airports in Canada

Calgary International Airport (YYC)

The first on our list of top five Canadian airports is modern, hi-tech and ideal for seasoned and unseasoned travellers alike.

Not only does YYC include a kid’s play area, but it also boasts an amazing entertainment and education facility called the Space Port. Here you can learn all about aeronautics and space, experience a space flight simulation, and check out artifacts from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. This is a great experience for all ages and makes your trip to the airport an adventure in itself.

It can be anxiety-inducing to wait around for your bags to arrive with no knowledge of how long you’re going to be standing there. YYC’s high-tech baggage carousel updates travellers on the exact arrival time and location of your bags, which definitely adds a sense of ease and relief into your travel experience.

This airport is known for its smooth functionality and plenty of coffee shops. With all of these features, and being so close to the city, you’re sure to have a great experience in Calgary.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

Next up is the busiest and largest airport in Canada! Despite how hectic it might seem, YYZ is known for being incredibly well managed and full of amenities, all while remaining easy to navigate.

YYZ is extremely accessible as it has the Union Pearson Express train that takes 25 minutes to get to the airport. Toronto’s airport also includes rotating art exhibits, a kid’s play area, nursing “pods” and rooms for new mothers, pet relief areas, and lots of bars!

There are tons of options for both food and shopping in this airport which is one of the things that makes it so appealing to me. You’re bound to be at the airport for a little while, so why not make a day of it and take advantage of all it has to offer?

Essentially, YYZ has its own mall with everything from souvenir shops to jewelry stores, ensuring there is something for everyone.

The airport is well equipped with fine dining. A great option for dinner is The Heart by Toronto chef Lynn Crawford; it features fresh and seasonal dishes. The Beaches Boardwalk Café is another delicious option known for its amazing mojitos. But don’t worry, there are plenty of budget-friendly options too.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

The Vancouver International Airport has won many awards for its world-class service, including the Skytrax Best North American Airport for the last 10 years! YVR is easy to navigate and decked out in elaborately beautiful décor.

They offer a kid’s play area, designated quiet areas with comfy seats, stretching mats and even an on-site Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel.

Quite possibly their most notable amenity is their huge aquarium (and a smaller one that is dedicated solely to jellyfish). This activity is great for all ages and a wonderful opportunity to do some learning!

The aquarium is not YVR’s only way of proving their dedication to sustainability and environmental change. In fact, something I love a lot about this airport is their environment management plan which focuses on 4 key ideas:

  1. Reducing greenhouse gas emission
  2. Reducing waste
  3. Reducing potable water consumption
  4. Improving ecosystem health

YVR puts these plans into action by ensuring there are plenty of recycle bins, reusable water re-fill stations, opportunities for environmental education, and more.

Globe is a must-eat spot in the airport. It’s famous for their Pacific Northwest cuisine of delicious and sustainable seafood. On top of that, the mountain views from the restaurant are unforgettable, much like many of the things you’ll experience at YVR.

St. John’s International Airport (YYT)

St. John’s International Airport is small but definitely modern. Only 6 airlines offer regular flights from this airport but don’t let that fool you! This airport is surely fit for a list like this.

Along with a play area for kids, designated quiet zones, and plenty of coffee shops, this airport provides excellent services that make first-time travellers and frequent flyers feel at home.

Their visitor information centre provides minute by minute updates on whale and iceberg sightings which is super helpful for first-time travellers to the area!

If you’re looking for something to eat, Yellow Belly Brewery offers food from scratch and craft beer. YYT’s homey atmosphere and food coupled with its inherent modernity make for a wonderful stop during your travels.

Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)

Similar to St. John’s International Airport, this airport is small but efficient. In fact, its size makes it all the better. YOW provides quick and friendly service and excels in cleanliness and comfort.

In addition to their kids’ play area, there is also a beautiful and calming fountain, a designated breastfeeding room, the Alt airport hotel, hydration stations, baggage storage and ten-minute manicures and massage services. The “lax” environment makes for a restful and relaxing wait for your flight.

Along with the overall calm environment, one of their greatest amenities is their therapy dog program. They have four dogs on-site to aid anxious travellers with the pre-flight nerves many of us know too well. Having a free service such as this available proves true consideration for travellers, which is an admirable quality of YOW.

If you’re hungry, Vinvolo restaurant is a great option for a small plate, fine cuisine that also offers a large variety of wines.

Upon first glance, this small airport may appear lacklustre. But once you’ve taken a closer look at all it has to offer, you’ll surely be glad to have visited.

If you frequent any of these airports, consider applying for one of these credit cards

There are plenty of credit cards that are great for travel in general, which will provide you with even more use of the perks mentioned above. Plus, these credit cards will also help fund future trips!

The following credit cards will offer lounge access at the previously listed airports:

The The Platinum Card® card is an awesome card for frequent travellers. You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent in card purchases on eligible travel, plus get access The American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM which unlocks access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This includes The Centurion® Lounge network, Plaza Premium Lounges, and hundreds of other domestic and international lounges designed to enhance your travel experience. These great benefits along with the annual $200 CAD travel credit make this card a great choice for travellers who fancy the luxury of travel opportunities.

The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card gives cardholders six annual passes on the Priority Pass airport lounge program which is great for anyone wanting to take full advantage of what airports have to offer. This card is a great one for out-of-country travellers seeing as it has a no foreign transaction mark-up. Using your points to book travel is simple and lacks restriction, allowing you to use your points to travel virtually anywhere!

For frequent travellers, you might want to try one of these credit cards that offer airport lounge access in order to give yourself a nice and relaxing start to your vacation, or some peace before your busy meetings when you land.

It’s a smart choice to utilize credit cards that earn you points towards travel/airfare if you travel often enough. Take a close look at your finances and consider how using one of these credit cards could benefit you and which suits you best, before applying and embarking on your travels.

Making the most of your airport experience

There are plenty of travel tips that are good for your wallet and you should absolutely be keeping these things in mind when planning your trips, applying for travel credit cards, and booking flights.

As you can see, there is tons to do at airports and helpful services that are unique and probably unexpected. If you want to make the most of your airport experience, you simply need to plan ahead.

Research ahead of time

You can’t take advantage of an airport’s amenities without knowing what they are. Take a look at the airport you’re traveling with and seek out the services you’re interested in and/or relying on beforehand. If they happen not to offer something you truly need, contact them to ask for accommodations.

You should plan to arrive early, up to 3 hours before, depending on whether it’s an international or domestic flight, so you can locate your gate and its nearby food and drink options. If you know you’ll need some time to work in an airport lounge or a moment of rest in a quiet zone, you’ll want to make sure that you know where you’re headed within the airport and the timing you will need to cover all your bases.

Embrace the fun

Traveling should be a fun experience, regardless of work or pleasure. These airports don’t offer art exhibits, aquariums, and space centres for you to simply walk past them! Whether you’re traveling as a sole adult or have kids with you, the fun opportunities that airports hold offer a great chance to add some extra activities into your travels.

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Em Norton Staff Writer

Em Norton is a Staff Writer for Money.ca. Em holds a B.A. in Professional Writing from York University and has been writing professionally since 2019. Em's work has previously been published by Room Magazine, IN Magazine, Our Canada and more.

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