Once you’ve checked into your flight and have made it past security, you’ll find yourself in a long corridor. Look to your left; look to your right. Yes, that is the entire airport! With fewer than 10 gates, St. John’s International Airport is certainly one of the tinier international airports in Canada. It’s also one of my favourites, simply because the line-ups are never long, the lounge areas are never crowded, and the staff is always friendly and welcoming.
Things are changing, though. The airport is undergoing a major facelift, and will be doubled in size by 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador’s growing economy and tourism industry means airport traffic is also growing … and growing fast. Thanks to many new direct international routes, YYT is becoming more of a regional travel hub. Travel time to places like London and Dublin is under five hours. And since nearly 70% of visitors to Newfoundland and Labrador come through YYT, you can understand the great need for an expansion.
Getting to and from the Airport
Unfortunately, there are currently no public transit routes to St. John’s International Airport. Although this is indeed a bizarre inconvenience – especially for budget travellers – St. John’s is a very small city, and even if you’re staying in the downtown core, a taxi should cost no more than $25CAD. Jiffy Cabs (709-722-2222) tends to offer the quickest service.
If you’re not carrying too much luggage, you can take a Metrobus to the bus stop closest to the airport, but you’ll still have bit of a walk. Buses 14, 20, and 2 service this route.
Upon landing, you’ll find many City Wide Taxis waiting just beyond the baggage claim. In the past, these taxis had set rates – and they were much higher than metered rates. Ask about the price beforehand, and if the ride isn’t metered, call a Jiffy Cab and wait at a different exit.
All airlines recommend checking in online, but there are also computer kiosks at each customer service desk and there is never much of a wait to use one. Although St. John’s International Airport is small in size, don’t push your luck too much with showing up for a flight. You should still give yourself plenty of time to check in and drop off your luggage.
It’s also always a good idea to check and see if your flight is delayed or cancelled before leaving for the airport. St. John’s is often subject to some extreme weather conditions (especially in the winter), and it’s one of the foggiest places in Newfoundland. New airport improvements will soon limit these inconveniences, but they’re an unfortunate reality of Eastern Canada travel.
Things to do at YYT Airport
St. John’s International Airport has great free WiFi, and it’s fast! You can sit back and relax in a comfy rocking chair while browsing the Internet. There are also several charging stations scattered about the second floor. For children, play stations are found on both the first floor and second floor. Local musicians sometimes make guest appearances on the first level, and there’s a public piano available to anyone who feels like using it. (It helps to have some musical talent, though.)
Need a book or newspaper to keep you entertained before a long flight? There’s a Relay on the first and second levels of the airport. Keep in mind this store does not stay open late.
On the third level, you’ll find a quiet area, a viewing room overlooking the runways, and a small chapel. You can only get access to the third floor before going through security.
Eating and Drinking
Perhaps my biggest pet peeve about St. John’s International Airport is that there are no restaurants or bars on the second floor of the airport, once you’ve made it past security. This means you can’t enjoy a meal or beer in relaxed comfort while waiting to board your flight, unless you hang out on the first floor for some time.
Generally this isn’t a problem – getting through security is usually a breeze. But if you’re like me and you’re a little more neurotic, it’s nice to be situated close to your gate before flying. There are a number of dining options on the first floor, including Destinations, a full restaurant and bar (but it’s pretty lackluster and unimaginative). You can also grab food in the food court, at Tim Hortons, Coyote Jack’s, or On the Fly. If you have a late night or early morning flight, however, these are likely to be closed.
On the second floor, you have a Jumping Bean kiosk, and a Tim Hortons. What Canadian airport is complete without a Tim Hortons? Jumping Bean is a local Newfoundland coffee brand, and potentially my favourite coffee in the entire universe. Both these destinations on the second floor tend to be open most of the time, thankfully.
Airport Code: YYT
Operated By: St. John’s International Airport Authority Inc.
Official Website: stjohnsairport.com
Official Twitter: @stjohnsairport
Airlines Serviced: Air Canada, Air Saint-Pierre, Air Transat, Porter, Provincial Airlines, Sunwing, United, WestJet