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transit via us or canada??

posts: 22
reviews: 8
transit via us or canada??

Looking at flights from London to Liberia, Costa Rica.

Is it better to transit via Toronto with Air Canada or a US airline and airport? Does Canada have the same demands and restrictions as the US. Should we avoid both & go via Madrid? which is a much more expensive option. Travelling with children so could do with the least hassle. Like the Air Canada flight times best.

Many thanks

Edmonton, Canada
posts: 4,342
reviews: 67
1. Re: transit via us or canada??

Most (all?) US airports don't have "ant tubes" for connecting international passengers. You have to go through immigration to simply change planes. Then re-check your bags, go through security (oh yay) all over again.

I don't know about Toronto, but I expect it's more streamlined.

Liverpool, UK
posts: 11,648
reviews: 23
2. Re: transit via us or canada??

You'll need an ESTA (cost $14 per passenger) to enter US, even if only in transit - no visas required for UK citizens to enter Canada.

Newmarket, Canada
posts: 931
reviews: 35
3. Re: transit via us or canada??

See the following link...


International to International connections are fairly simple in Toronto. You skip all of the formalities of claiming bags and entering the country and going back through security again.

Basically, you come off of your arriving plane and follow the signs for international connections (don't follow the crowds to the main customs hall). You will need to stop at the international transfer desk (used to be called "Customs B", but I think they changed the signage) where they will check your passport and boarding pass. You need to officially meet certain immigration standards of admissibility to Canada while in transit, but it's a very quick check. Then you proceed to your next gate. You will not need to go through security again.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 18,922
reviews: 5
4. Re: transit via us or canada??

If you fly via HOUSTON, you won't have to claim your checked bags and clear standard customs. Houston has the OneStop program (the only US airport thus far). You will clear immigration in a special line (ESTA required), which is much shorter than the standard line, and the immigration officer will conduct the customs inspection based only on your carry ons, as that's the only baggage being imported into the US.

OneStop is available for passengers on International to International connections, and other passengers with hand baggage only.


Edited: 1:47 pm, July 05, 2013
posts: 22
reviews: 8
5. Re: transit via us or canada??

Thanks that's really helpful. Does the system in both Toronto and Houston change and become more complicated if we have an overnight stay?

Newmarket, Canada
posts: 931
reviews: 35
6. Re: transit via us or canada??

Well, Yes, it will change the process! Few airports have airside hotels for transit passengers (although there are some major airports that do, but not so much in North America). So if you wanted to check into a hotel for the night at your connecting city, you will need to clear customs and immigration and then return the next day and proceed through security to your gate.

Edited: 3:14 pm, July 05, 2013
posts: 22
reviews: 8
7. Re: transit via us or canada??

Ok, do our bags still go straight through to Costa Rica with a long transfer/ overnight? Or do we need to collect them ? Ideally rather not see them between Lon and Liberia

Thanks for all your help.

La Libertad, El...
posts: 207
reviews: 7
8. Re: transit via us or canada??

By all means avoid the US like the plague, if you're not fussy Air Canada will get you there but I would opt for the Madrid option especially if an overnight is called for to save the high cost of Toronto hotels.

posts: 22
reviews: 8
9. Re: transit via us or canada??

Thanks, Madrid option is much more expensive. Is Air Canada that bad? Is Canada transit as bad as US?

Toronto, Canada
posts: 6,855
10. Re: transit via us or canada??

Air Canada is the only North American airline with a 4-star Skytrax ranking, so no, it's not that bad.

Transiting through Canada is simpler than the US for a UK citizen -- no ESTA, no digital fingerprinting.