Arriving in Toronto from Central America on a Saturday evening.
How much time should I allow to clear customs before my connecting flight?
There is no real answer.......it's entirely dependant on various factors.......could be 1/2 hour from departing the aircraft, through customs and off to baggage claim, could be 2 or 3 times that.............Pearson is my home airport...been through customs countless times...........I've had all of those scenarios occur.........I would allow for the average .....generally once you meet with the customs officer, it's only a few minutes before you are waived through........if your flight arrives very late (11 or so) it should be less congested............Edited: 12:22 pm, December 09, 2012
Personally, I would allow about two hours between flights. That way, even if your incoming flight is 30 mins late and you have to wait in line for an hour (or it takes an hour for your checked bags to appear), you still have enough time to get to your gate. Chances are that you won't actually need that much time.
This assumes you're travelling on a single ticket with a single airline or two airlines who use the same terminal and interline baggage. If you actually have to check in again for a separate flight, you should allow more time.Edited: 12:28 pm, December 09, 2012
Further to the above........would you need to pick up luggage, or is it being forwarded............is it the same airline, or a different one?..................personally, I'd want a buffer of a couple of hours.........I'd rather sit in the airport and wait for the next flight, instead of cutting it close and stressing about possibly missing the my connection..............Edited: 12:32 pm, December 09, 2012
Landing on a flight from South America, you have to clear customs in Toronto and this _always_ involves claiming any checked baggage.
There are two possible scenarios:
- The checked baggage is already tagged through to Ottawa, in which case you can quickly drop it back off after clearing customs. As I said above, that should happen if you're flying on a single ticket with one airline (e.g. Air Canada) or two that are in the same terminal and interline baggage.
- The baggage is only tagged to Toronto, in which case after clearing customs you've got to haul it upstairs and check in again -- a process best avoided.Edited: 2:11 pm, December 09, 2012
As others have said - there is no real answer - depends on what happens. on that specific day.
We arrive from SJO Costa Rica on Air Canada at Pearson at about 9.00 PM several times a year on Air Canada and connect to an Air Canada flight to Winnipeg. The connection time is usually 1 hour 40 minutes. We have always made it. Usually, we have quite a bit of time to spare. However once in a while - if either our incoming flight was late or many flights ended up landing at the same time, it has been a bit of a rush.
Once you clear customs, if your bags are checked through, you still have to pick them up, exit the baggage claim area and drag them to a connecting baggage area down the hall and drop them off. Then you proceed to security. There is a special smaller security area for connecting passengers. Sometimes however it can be as backed up or even more backed up than the regular security. But sometimes it goes very quickly. It is all a matter of timing for that particular day.
If you happen to be coming in on LR and connecting to Air Canada - at least it is in the same terminal. If you are ticketed on one ticket you bags will be tagged through, but you still have to drop them off. If you are connecting to WestJet - factor in getting to terminal 3. Or if you are arriving on some kind of charter and transferring to a regular airline flight on a separate ticket - factor in checking in again and perhaps changing terminals.
If your flights were sold on one ticket, they will be within the minimum connecting time - which at YYZ on AC for International to Domestic is 1 hour 15 minutes. If you miss it under those circumstances, the airline will put you on the next available flight. If you are forced to stay overnight, if the cause of the delay is weather they usually won't pay for your hotel. But if it is something the airline has control off like a mechanical they will usually pay for the hotel.
But if you have separate tickets, you are usually on your own and often out of luck. So allow about 2 hours as Matt suggests.
so I see that Matt has replied with more details while I was formulating my repy and doing other things...Edited: 2:36 pm, December 09, 2012
Two hours is the safe response for sure, time of day, day of flight, actual date can influence your decisions for sure...
Despite the fact that I have a Nexus card, meaning that I zero wait at customs and immigration, i always leave two hours for my connecting flight to Montreal. I find that 50% of the time it is not enough and I miss my connection.
The reasons are. It is only two hours if the flight is on time. Second reason is that even though I have a Nexus card, my suitcase doesn't. I am the first one at the carrousel but there is no luggage there.
So, plan for at least two hours, certainly not less.
I have not read all of the other answers so some of this might be a repeat. We just connected through Toronto with a shorter connection.
1. There are special lines for those with connections to get through customs faster.
2. Unless your bags have priority, this will be your first delay wiating for your bags (try asking when you first check you bags if they can put a priority tag on it as you have a tight connection, the worst they can say is no)
3. The line up to get out of the Baggage Claim can be your next delay, if you are really worried try budding in the line 9stting I am going to miss my connection)
4. The bag drop off is normally very fast.
5. You next delay is that you have to go through security again, this delayed us by 290 min. There is a "faster lane" for people who have a special credit card, if tight for time try to see if they will let you use that lane.
I thought we would not make our connection (1 hr 30 min) because of all our delays but we ended up with 20 min to sit down before we boarded our connection.
Neilalex- why would security take 290 minutes? That is almost 5 hrs?
Typo, presumably meant "20". (290 would be, ahem, mathematically impossible if he made his 90 minute connection.)