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Parking at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International
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YOW’s innovative approach to parking means that all of its on-site parking lots are within easy reach of the terminal building.
If you’re away for anything from a couple of hours to a few days, Ottawa Airport’s multi-story Parkade is ideal. Providing fully covered, secure and well-lit parking with accessibility priority areas on each floor, the Parkade also offers direct access to the terminal in just two minutes via a covered walkway. It’s important to note that the Parkade multi-story has a height limit of 7.2 feet (2.25 meters) throughout. Over-height vehicles are to be parked in YOW’s long-stay facility, which is just a few minutes’ drive away.
Ottawa Airport’s on-site long-stay parking is perfect if you’re going to be away for a week or more. The large, open-air facility is only a seven-minute walk from check-in and often considerably more affordable than the Parkade, which makes it a particularly convenient option for those traveling on a budget.
The airport is also surrounded by a variety of independent long-stay parking lots, with some offering shuttle bus services to and from the terminal forecourt, which can be useful if you’ve got an uncomfortable amount of luggage with you.
If you’re driving and not flying, Ottawa Airport provides dedicated pick-up and drop-off bays right outside arrivals and departures. It’s worth noting that parking and/or waiting in these bays is strictly prohibited as it can easily lead to congestion, so be sure to make it a quick visit.
Whether you want some time to wish your passengers a happy vacation or if you’ve arrived to pick them up ahead of schedule, YOW’s Cell Phone Lot lets you park completely free of charge until you’ve said your farewells or received a message to say they’ve touched down. From there, it’s just a two-minute drive to the terminal.
Ottawa Airport (YOW) is Canada’s sixth-busiest airport and has a single terminal building with two runways to handle over 150,000 aircraft movements and welcome almost five million domestic and international passengers every year. Officially named Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, after Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald and one of the country’s founding fathers, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, YOW is an international hub from which more than a dozen airlines offer flights to over 50 destinations around the world.
Just 6.3 miles (10.2 kilometers) south of central Ottawa, YOW is easily accessible via Route 79, also known as Airport Parkway, which will take you from the city center to the terminal building in just 15-20 minutes.
A dedicated bus service runs along its own transitway from downtown Ottawa to the airport every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, and takes only 30 minutes. Although there is no rail station at Ottawa Airport, airport buses make frequent stops at stations on the nearby Trillium Line, whilst there are plans for a rail station to be built inside the terminal as part of a future expansion.
The site of Ottawa Airport was first established as an airfield in the late 1920s by the Ottawa Flying Club, which still operates from the airport today. During World War II, 'Uplands', as it was known then, was home to the No.2 Service Flying Training School and provided advanced training for pilots from across the Commonwealth. Soon after the war, the airport underwent major expansion and was used as a civilian/military airport, making it the busiest airport in Canada.
In 1959, the completion of two runways made the airport capable of accommodating large jet airliners and a new terminal building was created. This terminal lasted until 2003, when a larger, more modern facility was built in order to keep up with increasing numbers of visitors. Since then, YOW has won numerous awards for its continued investment and innovation; it is one of only eight airports in Canada to have United States border preclearance facilities and is to become one of the first in the country to begin using facial recognition technology at check-in.
As an important gateway between Canada, the USA and Europe, YOW’s terminal building is well equipped to cater to all types of traveler. Its award-winning retail hall offers everything from those last-minute vacation essentials to a handpicked selection of Canadian souvenirs and the latest jerseys for all the local sports teams. The food court’s extensive array of high-street cafés, fast food outlets and independent restaurants have got your appetite covered, whether you’re grabbing something to go or staying for dinner.
If you have any special requirements for your visit to Ottawa Airport, you can find all the information you need on YOW’s special assistance page.
Facilities at Ottawa Airport include:
Despite not having any on-site hotels, Ottawa Airport is surrounded by a range of accommodation options including chain hotels and a wide selection of independent motels and B&Bs. Wherever you choose to stay, many of the hotels also provide complimentary shuttle buses to get you to the terminal in minutes.
If you’re looking to save some spending money for your trip, Adam’s Airport Inn is just over three miles (five kilometers) away from the airport and offers affordable accommodation conveniently close to the terminal and only a 10-minute drive from Ottawa city center. Although Adam’s Airport Inn doesn’t operate a shuttle bus service, it does offer two weeks of ‘park and fly’ parking completely free with a minimum one-night stay.
However, if you’re flying on business and could do with being a little closer to YOW, Days Inn Ottawa Airport is just 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) away. As well as providing free parking for the duration of your stay, the Days Inn also offers many extended parking deals that need to be booked at the same time as your reservation, along with a shuttle bus service to get you to the airport quickly.
If you’re celebrating the start of your trip in style, the Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport is the pinnacle of luxury airport accommodation and is only a mile (1.4 kilometers) away from check-in. With a pool, fitness center, free high-speed WiFi, state-of-the-art business center and an in-house restaurant complete with its own herb garden, the Hilton offers the ultimate in pre-flight relaxation. Although it doesn’t provide any long-term parking deals, the Hilton’s complimentary 24-hour shuttle runs regularly between the hotel lobby and the terminal forecourt and makes parking at the airport a viable and convenient option.
From famously fresh coffee and donuts to pub grub, pizza and poutine, YOW’s selection of cafés, restaurants and bars feature plenty of local and international options whether you’re eating on the go or settling down to a hearty meal before take-off. If you’re flying either very early or very late, a café in Ottawa Airport’s arrivals hall stays open 24 hours a day to provide you with a pick-me-up whenever you need it.
Ottawa Airport has over a dozen shops selling everything you need to make the most of your journey, whether you’ve got some last-minute travel essentials to buy before you fly or you’re after a souvenir for someone special. Convenience stores located throughout the terminal building offer a wide selection of international newspapers, magazines and bestselling books, as well as travel adapters, snacks, drinks and spare batteries to keep you and yours entertained in the air.
YOW also takes pride in supporting the vibrant local community with a number of retailers offering a wide selection of luxury goods, including locally handcrafted contemporary silver jewelry, memorabilia celebrating the country’s sporting achievements and, of course, the iconic culinary symbol of Canada: maple syrup.
Ottawa Airport’s terminal was not only designed to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for its visitors; it also reflects the region’s rich culture and heritage in almost every detail. The fine copper and limestone highlights in the architecture reference Ottawa’s iconic Parliament Buildings, while the terminal’s eye-catching water feature symbolizes the coming together of the region’s three rivers.
Work from established and promising new Canadian artists is on display throughout the terminal, including a breathtaking carved glass sculpture by renowned glassworker, Warren Carther. The airport also houses a specially commissioned inukshuk - a stone landmark used by the peoples of arctic North America as markers for travel routes or places of cultural importance - and an extremely rare traditional birch bark canoe. The latter is one of two built by one of the last master craftsmen, an indigenous Algonquin leader, with the other having been given to the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Be dressed to impress by getting your shoes shined at YOW before you fly. Just past security and open from 6am to 8pm every day to domestic and international travelers, these airport shoe-shiners have years of experience improving the look and feel of footwear, whether it’s leather, suede, nubuck or patent. So, if you’ve got time before you fly, put your feet up for a few minutes so you can stride to your gate in style.
Indulge the collector in you with Ottawa Airport’s special Airport Trading Cards. YOW is one of over 60 North American airports participating in the series, with each offering a completely free and unique set of cards featuring some of the most recognizable and iconic images of the facility and the region beyond, as well as history, facts and figures that demonstrate the relationship between each airport and its local community.
Ottawa Airport’s 20 dedicated firefighters are specially trained in aircraft rescue and dealing with jet fuel fires of up to 1,517 degrees Fahrenheit (825 degrees Celsius) and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a fleet of six-wheeled aircraft rescue trucks with turrets capable of projecting four metric tons (1,432 gallons) of flame-retardant foam per minute.
At YOW, the on-duty crew offers firehall tours that can be booked in advance for any day of the week and feature demonstrations of their specialized equipment and vehicles, as well as important information of fire safety. Suitable for families and children of six and up, you can find all the information on YOW’s unique firehall tours here.
An inspired way to keep your kids (and yourself) entertained whilst waiting for take-off, Ottawa Airport has its own official paper airplane designed in collaboration with some of the resident aeronautical experts. Simply download the design, print it out and fold it to see how far and how fast your plane can fly before stepping onboard the real thing.
Ottawa is proud to be home to the Parliament of Canada, which is held in the iconic gothic suite of buildings that overlook the Ottawa River and the city beyond from atop Parliament Hill. Welcoming upwards of three million visitors every year, Parliament Hill is one of the most popular attractions in the country and offers a wide selection of guided and independent tours, free of charge, that take in the stunning architecture and lead you through the offices of some of Canada’s most celebrated statesmen.
Just eight miles (13 kilometers) away from YOW and at the heart of the city, Parliament Hill played a vital role in shaping the Canada we know today and is a must-see for all visitors.
Only six miles (10 kilometers) north of Ottawa Airport is the spectacular Hog’s Back Falls, where the Rideau River and the iconic Rideau Canal - now a UNESCO World Heritage site - split to run separately through downtown Ottawa.
The Falls are a breathtaking example of how the region has harnessed the power of the river, flowing into the canal locks to lift and lower boats and barges with ease. Hog’s Back Falls is surrounded by a beautiful park that offers fantastic views of the cityscape to the north along its riverside cycling and walking paths.
The park is also home to special events all-year-round, with the popular Ottawa FolkFest taking place there in the summer and the park becoming a hotspot for cross-country skiing throughout the winter.
The Canadian Museum of Nature houses the country’s vast collection of natural history and natural science artefacts, which began in 1856 and now includes over 14.6 million specimens, many of which are on display throughout the museum’s eight permanent galleries.
With an internationally significant exhibition of genuine 85 million-year-old fossils, as well as interactive galleries of Canada’s huge variety of native mammals, marine life, birds and bugs all only a 15-minute drive from the airport, the Canadian Museum of Nature is an entertaining, exciting and refreshingly affordable way to spend a few hours before you fly.
Originally starting out as a center for agricultural research and development, the rather unusually named Central Experimental Farm has since been protected as a National Historic Site of Canada and it has become a popular recreational area with locals and visitors alike.
Bordering the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa, the 1.5-square mile (four-square kilometer) park contains the striking red brick observatory built in 1902 to house the largest telescope ever installed in Canada. It also features the prestigious Canada Agriculture Museum, an arboretum that generates a microclimate often warmer than the surrounding Ottawa city center and a pioneering ornamental garden that houses collections of hardy roses, peonies and lilacs capable of blooming all-year-round.
The majority of the gardens on the farm are free to enter and they are only an eight-mile (13-kilometer) drive from the airport, making it a great place to stretch your legs and get some fresh air before boarding your plane.
One of the country’s premier art galleries, the National Gallery of Canada houses a staggering collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and unique artefacts from Canada’s rich artistic heritage, as well as works by many noted artists from across America and Europe. The gallery has an impressive collection of classical works, but it is globally renowned for its collection of contemporary art. Displaying some of Andy Warhol’s most famous and/or infamous works alongside those of Francis Bacon, Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock, the National Gallery showcases some of the most iconic art the modern world has to offer.
If you are intrigued by the thought of exploring a four-story, 100,000-square foot (9,290-square meter) bunker hidden 75 feet (23 meters) underneath a city, Ottawa has just the place.
The utterly unique Diefenbunker, a former top-secret base designed to protect over 500 people from nuclear attack, has been converted into Canada’s only Cold War museum. Just an hour’s drive from YOW and run as a not-for-profit museum by a dedicated team of local volunteers for over 20 years, the Diefenbunker is a weird and wonderful experience of life underground, from toilets capable of surviving a nuclear blast to the best game of hide and seek you’ll ever play.
Admittedly one of Canada’s more obscure national pastimes, axe throwing is nonetheless a beloved backyard activity that has recently seen a striking resurgence in popularity. Similar in setup to the pub classic of darts, axe throwing replaces the lightweight darts with a hefty hand-axe and the cork dartboard with a target of solid wood.
Ottawa is home to some of the first commercial axe throwing establishments, offering lessons in a safe, well lit, indoor environment, so why not try your hand at a quintessentially Canadian activity? You never know, you might be a natural.
Of course, if you just fancy some fresh air, a stroll and some nibbles, the Ottawa Farmer’s Market is all you really need. Operating throughout the year, every vendor at the market grows, makes or bakes all of their produce within 62 miles (100 kilometers) of the city.
Whether you’re in the mood for the best local bread, cheese, cured meats, fruit and vegetables or a selection of baked goods and sweets, the Ottawa Farmer’s Market is only a 15-minute drive into town from the airport, so you can take off filled with the finest food the region has to offer.
YOW is an important part of Canada’s busiest air corridor that spans the distance between Toronto and Montreal. As such, its single terminal building serves as a hub for Air Canada, a home-base for First Air and is frequently used by major American airlines such as Delta and United, with flights across Canada and to cities throughout the USA and Europe.
|Air Canada||Main terminal|
|Air Canada Express||Main terminal|
|Air North||Main terminal|
|Air Transat||Main terminal|
|American Airlines||Main terminal|
|American Eagle (operated by American Airlines)||Main terminal|
|Canadian North||Main terminal|
|Delta Connection||Main terminal|
|First Air||Main terminal|
|Porter Airlines||Main terminal|
|Sunwing Airlines||Main terminal|
|United Express||Main terminal|
|WestJet Encore||Main terminal|
Whether you’re driving from downtown or coming from further afield, Ottawa International Airport is directly connected to Route 79, which runs right through the city center to join the Trans-Canada Highway only 12 miles (20 kilometers) away.
Use the postcode K1V 9B4 to find your way to YOW. It takes approximately two hours to drive the 124 miles (200 kilometers) from Montreal to Ottawa International Airport and a little over four hours to drive along the Ontario Highway 401 from Toronto, 271 miles (437 kilometers) away.
OC Transpo, Ottawa’s public transport service, runs bus Route 97 from YOW north through downtown Ottawa to the suburbs beyond. Buses run 24 hours a day and as often as every 10 minutes, with the trip along Airport Parkway taking just 30 minutes from the city center. For up-to-date timetables, fares and route maps, visit the OC Transpo website.
Ottawa Airport doesn’t have its own dedicated rail station, although plans to build one inside the terminal building have been tabled. In the meantime, the OC Transpo Trillium line runs alongside Airport Parkway and the Route 97 bus makes a number of stops at stations along the way, with the nearest station to YOW being Greenboro only three miles (five kilometers) away.
Over 450 flights arrive at and depart from Ottawa Airport’s single terminal most days and its parking lots and check-in facilities can become busy, especially during peak hours. If you’re flying elsewhere in Canada or into the USA, it’s a good idea to arrive at the airport at least two hours before boarding. If you’re on an international flight, you should aim to arrive no later than three hours before you fly.
YOW is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, security checkpoints will close after the last flight of the day until early the next morning. If you’ve got a flight first thing, airline and security personnel will be there to help at least two hours before the scheduled departure time.
Although the airport stays open throughout the night, the majority of the food and drink vendors will close after the last flight of the day. If you find yourself hankering for a midnight snack, there is a 24-hour café serving some of Canada’s favorite hot drinks and sweet treats located landside in the food court on level 1.
As convenient as YOW’s multi-story Parkade is, it’s important to remember that it carries a 7.2-foot (2.25-metre) height restriction throughout. Double-check the height of your vehicle before you book and, if you are over-height or you’re at all unsure, simply park in the airport’s long-stay parking lot just a few minutes' drive away – it’s still only a seven-minute walk to check-in.
If you’re driving to YOW to pick someone up after they’ve landed, it’s a good idea to use the airport’s dedicated Cell Phone Lot rather than clogging up the drop-off/pick-up bays where the maximum stay is just one minute.
The Cell Phone Lot is completely free to use while you wait for a message or call from your passengers to tell you they’re ready. After that, it’s a two-minute drive to the terminal forecourt where they’ll be waiting.
YOW’s single terminal is a 15-minute drive south of downtown Ottawa via Route 97, which runs parallel to the Trillium rail line and provides easy access to the Trans-Canada Highway. Take a look at the 'How to get to Ottawa Airport' section of this guide for more information and check YOW’s Transportation page for contact details for taxis and transfers.
Your airline will have sent you all the information you need, but if you can’t find it or the information has changed, YOW’s flight timetable contains details of all the day’s flight activity, including scheduled and revised times of arrival and departure as well as your airline, flight number and gate.
For items lost anywhere on airport property, whether in the terminal building or in the parking lots, you can find the Lost and Found office on level 1 of the terminal or contact them directly on +1 613 248 2054.
For anything left on your plane, you should contact your airline as soon as possible. Similarly, if you’ve left something behind on your way to the airport, whether in the taxi, on the bus or the train, please contact the service you used.
YOW aims to ensure that all of its visitors find their stay at the airport as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. If you require assistance when traveling, let your airline know as soon as you can and they will make all the necessary arrangements with Ottawa Airport for your visit.
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