sometimes small is better (part 1)

… in air travel.

This is part of the Toronto visit series.

I sit in this small airport in the middle of Downtown Toronto, wondering why airports can’t all be like this. YTZ (Billy Bishop) is small, with a single terminal (if it can be called that). There is just one commercial airline, also a small company. And its planes are small, four-seat-across propeller aircrafts that I’ve sworn not to take again after one particularly unpleasant ride years ago, but am taking anyway. More on that later.

The inbound wasn’t all that impressive. You go through Canadian customs, then cross a small canal on what must be the world’s shortest ferry ride — I mean you wait for the ferry longer than the ride, which is like 20 seconds — to the parking lot which also belongs to the airport. The airline provides two shuttles, one to the York Hotel, one to Union Station. To go anywhere else you’re kind of on your own, but the nearest public trolley buses are a five-minute walk away — if you know where they are, because there is no information desk. This is the downside of small.

But downside is replaced by upside on the outbound. For such a small airport, US customs is not here, but back on the US side. This is great for saving time. YYZ (Pearson International) is not like this; it has both the Canadian and US customs checkpoints outside the security perimeter. Somehow this also translates into a friendlier security checkpoint at YTZ. You don’t have to take off your shoes unless they tell you to, you can put your laptop in the same bin as other stuff. Mostly they are not in a hurry because there is nobody in the airport this day — almost empty. Also note the following:

Billy Bishop Airport Boston Logan Airport
free wifi free wifi if you watch ads
free snacks and drinks ha
lounge with nice sofas and lamps dusty old rocking chairs in the sun

It makes air travel bearable again. A tradeoff exists with small planes, too. They don’t do too well in turbulence, but in exchange for this possibility, they are quiet and have large seats. Also they seem so… primitive, and their mechanism so… accessible, that I couldn’t help but watch the propellers go around.

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