KW Travel Resources

This page is meant to be primarily a list of the many ways to get to/from the airport. However, please feel free to contribute other travel tips/resources you have!

Searching for flights


There are several main airports in the area: YYZ and YTZ serve Toronto, YKF serves KW region, and YHM serves Hamilton region.

Pros and cons of YYZ:

  • Pro: major international airport; likely to go anywhere via direct flight
  • Pro: US customs/immigration preclearance in the airport
  • Pro: more options for next flight if yours gets delayed/canceled
  • Con: long security lines
  • Con: you sometimes have to arrive 2-3 hours early
  • Con: 2-3 hours get here if by public transit (if you are going to a conference, you can get your taxi ride reimbursed which is < 1 hour)
Pros and cons of YKF:

  • Pro: short security lines
  • Pro: you can arrive 30 mins prior to your flight if you have no checked luggage
  • Pro: somewhat close
  • Con: no US customs/immigration preclearance, so if your destination is or goes through the US, you will have to do immigration at your first point of entry (i.e. plan for a long layover)
  • Con: limited flights available; you're stuck overnight sometimes if your flight gets canceled
  • Con: no public transit
Pros and cons of YTZ:

  • Pro: relaxed atmosphere, very short lines
  • Pro: free shuttle to/from Toronto Union Station, which is easily accessible by multiple public transit options (GO bus, train, TTC)
  • Con: fewer destinations

Getting to and from the airport (YYZ)

  • Taxi [ Waterloo Taxi | United Taxi | City Cabs]
    • To Pearson: $90 fixed rate
    • From Pearson: fixed rate (~$125-165 +tax)
    • When coming back from Pearson, always go to the designated Taxi line in the ground transportation section. Every taxi there is guaranteed to offer a fixed rate.
    • Sometimes the drivers from Toronto may not know how to get to Waterloo. You should familiarize yourself with the route, just in case.
  • AirwaysTransit
    • To/from Pearson: $92 one person, $134 two people, $147 three people, $155 four people
  • Public Transit Bus
    • There are more options than there used to be, many of which involve a transfer between agency, so Google Maps directions is likely your best bet. That said, common routes to the airport are:
      • From {Waterloo, Laurier, Charles St}, take a GO Transit bus #25* to Square One, and then a MiWay bus #7N or GO Transit bus #40 (Richmond Hill Centre) to the airport
      • From Victoria and King (next to the Central Station ION stop in downtown Kitchener), take a GO Transit bus #30 to Bramela GO station, and then a MiWay bus #115S to the airport
    • ~$21 (exact change or PRESTO card only)
    • You can get a reloadable PRESTO card that works on GO Transit and local transit systems (other than Waterloo). You can also get a student discount by registering it online and then showing your student ID and the card at a turnkey desk (either the 24/7 one in the SLC, or the business hours one in DC, directly beneath the lab on the ground floor). Note that online reloads take 24 hours before the funds appear, but in-person reloads (machine or teller) are instant. You can refill the card on the GO bus itself, but some drivers will get mad at you, especially if they're running late or if there's a long line.
    • If you buy a paper GO ticket, sometimes the MiWay driver will let you just board the bus if you show that ticket.
  • Greyhound Bus
    • Greyhound started offering a bus directly from UW campus to the airport, but Greyhound is not currently (June 2020) operating
    • Tickets must be bought in advance, either online or at a turnkey desk
  • Train
    • If your flight happens to be at just the right time, you can take a GO commuter train from Kitchener to Malton and then the MiWay bus #7S to the airport
    • There are some other transfer options as well, including some entirely train routes via the UP Express

  • Before you leave, you should read about the reimbursement procedure.
  • Keep your boarding pass/printout that gets stamped by the immigration person. You will need it to show proof of traveling to a conference and hence reimbursement.
  • At the airport, always find your gate before finding a place to eat. This basic travel advice will help to prevent missed flights.
  • If it wasn't apparent, you CAN reimburse your taxi ride to and from the airport. Remember to keep the receipts!
  • Ask other students who have attended the conference before about the best forms of transportation.
  • Waterloo Taxi (and possibly others) do accept credit card as a form of payment.
  • If you call to reserve a taxi the night before your flight, the taxi will arrive on time (and call you when they arrive), and you don't have to wait possibly 15-30 mins for a taxi. Consider doing this especially for non-business-hour departures.
  • Consider rush hour, weather elements, and accidents on the 401 when calling a taxi. Travel from KW to YYZ can take anywhere between 50 mins to 3 hours as a result. You won't be charged extra, but remember that your taxi driver cannot teleport you to the airport. Plan accordingly.
  • If you hate talking to people and have a phone, GataHub can be used to call taxis (Waterloo Taxi). It will notify you ETA and the number of the taxi.

Border Privacy

When passing through border security, you are subject to Canada's Customs Act. Contrary to what you might assume, the Canada Border Services Agency currently interprets the Customs Act to mean that they can force you to unlock any electronic device you are carrying with you, even if that requires you to divulge your encryption keys. The argument is that "goods" are defined "for greater certainty, [as including] conveyances, animals and any document in any form". Your electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops, contain "documents" in electronic form. An officer may at any time "up to the time of release, examine any goods that have been imported and open or cause to be opened any package or container of imported goods and take samples of imported goods in reasonable amounts".

The constitutionality of this interpretation has not yet been tested. In 2015, a person refused to reveal their smartphone unlock code at the border and was charged for this. The case concluded in 2016 with the defendant pleading guilty to hindering or obstructing border officials.

For now, assume that the border security agents may demand keys and passwords for any electronic device you carry with you. If this concerns you, adjust your behavior accordingly.

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Topic revision: r11 - 2020-06-23 - JustinTracey
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