If you’re heading to the airport and nervous about the security lineup, it may be a good idea to check the real-time lineup tracker by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).
The federal body responsible for airport screening provides wait time estimates on its website for several major airports around the country, including Vancouver, Abbotsford, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.
For example, wait times on May 3 for Vancouver International Airport were up to five minutes for domestic departures and up to 15 minutes for US departures.
The wait times are calculated by comparing the time that passengers scan their boarding pass when entering the lineup to the time they scan again when undergoing screening. The wait times are updated every two minutes.
The wait times don’t include the minutes required to check in and drop off checked bags, get your carry-on bags searched, go through US customs, or find your boarding gate.
Of course, if you want to save yourself the trouble of unpredictable wait times, there’s always the option of reserving a time slot to go through security. Vancouver offers its YVR Express service, and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has the same option.
Security wait times ballooned last year as people returned to international travel amid a CATSA staff shortage following pandemic layoffs. Security wait times look more normal now, though, after CATSA’s contractors did hiring blitzes last summer.