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billy bishop toronto city airport aerialWhen’s the last time you transferred from an airport into the heart of downtown without paying a dime? And when’s the last time you got drinks and snacks at an airport — for free?

I did both of these things on a recent trip to Toronto via Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Unlike the much larger Toronto Pearson International Airport, which is about 17 miles outside of town, Billy Bishop is located in the heart of Toronto — specifically, on an island across a narrow strip of water from downtown. It’s currently served by only two carriers, Porter Airlines and (in a more limited capacity) Air Canada.

I flew Porter from Newark to Toronto and back, and was struck by how different this airport felt than any other I’d ever flown into. First off, you get there via the world’s shortest ferry (the ride is just 90 seconds across a 132-yard stretch of water), after riding a free shuttle bus to the ferry terminal from downtown. No need to take a pricey cab.

Following a quick trip through security, you settle into a lounge with couches and cushy chairs arranged around coffee tables, looking out through large windows at the Toronto skyline. The Wi-Fi is free (albeit slow), and you can help yourself to complimentary bottled water, soft drinks, tea, coffee and snacks. All in all, it’s a pretty decent place to wait out a flight delay.

Best Airports for Layovers

Of course, such a small airport has its drawbacks. This isn’t the place to go if you want to browse a bookstore, shop for duty-free goodies or eat a full-service meal; there are no stores or restaurants, just a quick-stop cafe. And you can forget about fun extras like massage chairs or play areas for kids.

Billy Bishop isn’t the world’s most entertaining airport. But after my last flight through New York JFK — where the service was sour, the customs line stretched for miles, and I had to shell out $10 for a measly bottled water and yogurt — I’d go back to that laid-back lounge in a heartbeat.

16 Ways to Get Through the Airport Faster

What’s your favorite small airport?

– written by Sarah Schlichter

3 Responses to “The Coolest Little Airport You’ve Never Flown Into”

  1. Cecilia says:

    My favorite small airport domestically is Spokane (GEG). You walk to everything. No shuttles, trams, trains, etc. Plenty of food and shops. Internationally, it’s Wake Island’s military airport. I had a stopover there while in the Navy. I felt like Gilligan on the island. It’s so far away from everything.

  2. Nancy W James says:

    I’ll put a ‘ditto’ to Cecilia’s comment. Our home airport (we’re in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but Spokane is the nearest International Airport — about 40 miles away). It is a dream to fly into and out of GEG. Plus, right across the street is the Ramada Hotel — where you can walk from your room to the airport check in counter (no matter what airline you are flying on) in about 4-5 minutes. So nice!

  3. SimonBr says:

    I loved Gibraltar International Airport.

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