The Canadian Music Industry and Pearson International Airport

I spend a lot of time in airports and I hate most of them. La Guardia in New York is a cesspool. Arriving overseas into Newark is a nightmare. The domestic area of Montreal’s Trudeau is bland and lacking in services. Some of the terminals at LAX are downright embarrassing and woe to anyone who has to connect via different terminals. Same with O’Hare. The design of Kansas City just doesn’t work. I once had a 40 minute walk between connecting gates in Minneapolis. Atlanta is just…weird.

Heathrow and Gatwick can be hit-and-miss. They’re rude at Charles DeGaulle in Paris. Venice is stupidly crowded as is Tegel in Berlin. Shanghai is confusing and there’s little to do in Beijing. Moscow’s Domodedovo is chaotic and the money changers are out to rip you off.

Good airports? Vancouver. Nashville. Seattle. Tampa. Charlotte. The new Winnipeg terminal is excellent. Calgary will be good when they finally finish it. Frankfurt is okay. Narita is clean but sometimes difficult to navigate. Inchon and Hong Kong can be a pleasure. But nothing–and I mean NOTHING–beats Changi in Singapore. The last time I arrived there, it took me 13 minutes to get from the door of the aircraft into a taxi. That includes immigration and baggage claim. THIRTEEN MINUTES.

YYZ in Toronto? It’s…okay. Middle of the pack but improving. Terminal 1 is much better than Terminal 3 (we have no Terminal 2) but T3 is undergoing some renovations, so I have my fingers crossed. It’s a fantastically well-served airport, which offers nonstop flights to some pretty far-flung places.

Airports are vital parts of the economy of any city, region and country. Have a good airport and you’ll have the world beating a path to your door. This, naturally, has an impact on the local music scene. That’s why we have this video by Graham Henderson of Music Canada talking about Toronto Pearson.

Where YYZ really falls down is in delivering baggage. Arriving home from Montego Bay on Sunday night, I waited in line at immigration for 20 minutes (not bad, really) and then another 30 minutes for my bag at the carousel. How did take almost an hour for my bag to get from the cargo hold to baggage claim?

And it’s been worse. I once arrived home from LaGuardia on a quiet Sunday night. No bags for 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes. It turns out that someone had unloaded the aircraft and then just left the truck sitting there. Air Canada had effectively lost the luggage of an entire A320. We waited another 30 minutes for someone to find a handler to drive the truck to where it could be unloaded.

Landing fees are awful, too. YYZ charges some of the highest landing fees in the world which are of course passed on to customers in the form of higher ticket prices. (This is why when flying overseas I try to avoid Heathrow; the taxes on a ticket into London’s biggest airport are crushing, even if you’re just connecting.) This is why you hear of so many people driving to Buffalo to get a flight. Cheaper tickets.

Musicians: Any thoughts on using Pearson? I’d love to hear your perspectives.

UPDATE: A number of people pointed out that it’s wrong–just plain wrong–that not a single note of Rush’s “YYZ” was used in this promo. Surely they could have sought permission…

 

 

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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