Updated January, 2017
Thank you to the members of the facebook group YYZ Travel Advice and Recommendations for the information about Skyway Park. I’ve now added it as Option #6.
Toronto International Airport (Pearson), is finally catching up to the rest of the modern world with its 2015 introduction to airport-to-city centre train service. The Up Express sends a train every 15 minutes. This is awesome if you live near Weston, Bloor or Union station. The original price of $27.50 return was a bit hard to swallow, so Up reduced the price to $24.00 return and $18.00 return if you have a Presto card.
This is likely the best option for business travellers. But for the rest of us, please read on…
Obviously the best option to getting to the airport and back home again is to have a friend or relative drive you. But when you live a couple of hours away, or your flight leaves at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning in January, do you really want to be that friend?
So here they are, the 6 options. Some are quite simple to comprehend, and others can be down right complicated:
Option 1: Uber
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Uber. But if you’re going to call an Uber, be very clear what the price is. The very first time I used an Uber was on a trip from my home to Pearson (a distance of about 32 km). Because it was my first time, I got a $25.00 discount, and only paid $15.18 (plus tip).
The second time I used Uber to get to Pearson, the trip was $34.78 (a better deal when you factor out the coupon). Expecting to pay the same on my way home, I was stunned to find out my one-way fare was $70.88. I was told no Uber X vehicles are allowed to pick up at Pearson, only limos.
So, on my last trip to Pearson, the total cost to and from the airport was $105.66. Don’t bank on this though, you could be taken by a surge price.
Option 2: The Airport Taxi
Regular taxis are not permitted at Pearson. Taxis and limos must be specially licensed by the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) and successfully complete sensitivity training and defensive driving, plus they have to pass the GTAA’s own driver examination. Fees to passengers are set by the GTAA. That said, I looked up the cost for me, – 32 kilometres from the airport:
$54.00 (tax included) each way, for a total of $108.00. Be aware that there is an extra $15.00 charge for pre-arranged pick ups.
Option 3: Park Sleep & Fly (based on a 10-day vacation)
Many travellers in Ontario find that this option works best. Especially if they live several hours from the airport or are nervous about the drive (winter driving can be unpredictable).
Most hotels close to the Toronto International Airport offer free parking and airport shuttle if you stay at their hotel the night before your flight. Prices range from $99.00 for a 3-star hotel, 1 mile from the airport (free shuttle), to $239.00 for a 4.5-star hotel, 2 miles from Pearson (free shuttle).
Here’s a great summary on terms and prices. You can type in your own dates and get a range of options. Warning – this is not a last-minute option. The best deals sell out quickly, so it’s best to choose this option a couple of months in advance. Most hotels have free cancellation.
For even better deals, join Travelzoo. They often post park-sleep-and-fly discounts.
Option 4: Park n Fly
This one gets complicated. If you have ever used Park n Fly, you know that the only way you would ever pay their “regular price” is if you f*** up and forget your coupon. But are all coupons created equal? No they are not. The best way to describe the park n Fly process, is to use my example below:
step 1: Go to the Park n Fly website and pick your lot (see more about lots below) and dates, and then “get your coupon”.
step 2: Whoa, not so fast! Did you get an additional “corporate discount”? What’s that you say? You don’t have a corporate discount? Just go to Bargainmoose and grab one.
step 3: After you enter your lot and dates, type in your corporate discount code, then “get your coupon”.
step 4: Print your coupon and don’t lose it.
step 5: Park your car in one of the lots, and leave the coupon in your car where you can find it.
step: 7: Wait a few minutes in the bus shelter and take the shuttle to the airport.
step 8: When you come back from your holiday, take the shuttle back to the lot, and drive to the auto pay station. This is when your coupon will give you the lower price.
Here’s how the prices break down for a typical 10-day stay:
Regular price including tax: $156.74
Price with the online coupon: $113.74
Price with the online coupon plus the corporate discount: $90.81
The above price is for the Self Park Lot. Park n Fly has three lots, with 3 price ranges:
1. The Valet Lot – they will park your car for you while you wait in their cozy “lounge”. They will also start your car for you upon your return, and drive it up to the lounge doors for you. You get a free newspaper. Great if you want to spend an extra $25. It’s not worth it in my opinion.
2. The Self park Lot. I always choose this one. If your coupon doesn’t work at the pay station (and this happens often), there are actual human beings there to assist you.
3. The Economy Lot. Down the road and across the highway from the Park n Fly employees, so good luck if you have trouble with your coupon. It’s a bit cheaper, but not worth the aggravation if your coupon doesn’t work and your credit card is charged the full price.
Option 5: Toronto International Airport – Pearson Value Park
No complicated coupons or corporate discount codes, and closer to the airport, you still need to take a shuttle train if you opt for the surface lot with no valet service (comparable to Park n Fly’s Self Park option). This lot is closer to the airport, so you’ll save about 10 minutes with the shuttle service.
- Daily maximum: $18
- Weekly Max*: $90 (7 days)
- Additional Days: $18
- 10 day trip = $144.00
- Daily maximum: $23
- Weekly Max*: $115 (8 days)
- Additional Days: $23 (Around $14/day when you stay for a week)
- 10 day trip = $161.00
Option 6: Skyway Park
I have to start off by saying that Skyway park‘s current promotion of Monthly Equivalent Self Park (MESP) blew me away! If you pay for 12 days, you can have the rest of the month for free!
Skyway park is located at 60 Skyway Avenue in Toronto. You reserve your spot online, then pay in advance when you arrive (no complicated coupons!). A van will lead you to your spot, then drive you directly to the airport. You’re given a ticket with your reservation number on it. When you return to Toronto, you call them with your reservation number, and they quickly arrive to bring you back. From some online reviews I’ve read, wait times seem to average about 10 minutes. Reviews give Skyway Park lots of kudos for their customer service as well (which is super important to me).
To keep things equal, I requested a quote for a 10-day stay. $80.52 – easily the best value.
Based on what I’ve read (I haven’t used Skyway Park yet but I will next time I travel), here are the pros and cons:
- best customer service
- quick pick up
- supervised lots 24/7
- no complicated coupons
- unpaved lots
- poorly lit
- small shuttle van
There are pros and cons to each option, but for the budget-minded traveller, I now recommend Skyway Park. Here’s how all the parking options break down for my 10-day trip, 32 kms from the airport.
- Uber $105.66 plus tip but watch out for surge pricing, but also opportunities for coupons
- Airport Taxi $108.00 plus tip
- Park-sleep-fly $99.00 – $239.00 depending on your comfort level
- Park n Fly $90.81 but prices could vary depending on your coupon search skillz
- Toronto International Airport Pearson Value Parking Lot – $144.00, Garage – $161.00
- Skyway Park $80.52 (there’s currently a promotion where you can park for 30 days for $105.04)
If you know of another option in Toronto, please let me know in the comments.
This post was written based on my personal experience and/or knowledge of the brand(s) herein. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.