Welcome to Canada's political heart, a neighborhood that includes the twin cities of Ottawa-Hull. Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW), or L'aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier, is the main international airport serving Canada's capital city. The name of the airport recognizes two of Canada's founders, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. MacDonald was the country's first Prime Minister and Cartier helped to draft Confederation, not to be confused with the other famous French explorer who explored much of the St. Lawrence Seaway and founded the Colony of New France.
The business and residences here straddle the border of two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, and thus the region and city are entirely bilingual. That includes traffic signs, financial institutions, most retail outlets, and naturally the city's international airport. Here are a few handy tips for finding your way around YOW, whether you're on your way home or just beginning your journey.
- Ground Transportation. YOW is connected to the surrounding urban area via local bus route 97. You can use this route to connect to the municipal transit system which includes buses and a light rail. Plans for expansion include a public transit terminal within the airport. Taxis, private cars such as limousines, and rentals are available on the first level near the Arrivals section.
- Customs and Immigration. Given that YOW is located in the same city as Canada's federal government, it's natural to expect that the airport has facilities for immigration, visa applications, and US pre-clearance services. The airport is considered a point of entry for Nav Canada and is staffed by employees of the Canadian Border Protection Services (CBSA).
- Terminal Design. The design of the terminal is based on a bright, open concept that is meant to both relax and welcome guests. The interior is adorned with various works of distinctive Canadian art that represent the Ottawa-Hull region. The rare artwork includes a rare handmade birch bark canoe, a large scale glass sculpture, and a water feature that symbolizing the three rivers nearby.
Airlines at Ottawa International Airport
YOW is a medium-sized airport, not nearly as big as nearby YYZ in Toronto, but you can still find flights to various points in Europe and the United States that are direct or non-stop.
- Canadian Airlines. Air Canada, Westjet, and their subsidiary airlines dominate the roster here, flying not only to a variety of national destinations but also to cities in Mexico, Europe, and the United States.
- Vacation Destinations. Several of the airlines in the airport fly to southern hotspots in the winter months, such as Porter and Air Canada. Sunwing and Air Transat are the only two that operate on a strictly seasonal basis, conducting flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida.
- Rural Connections. As this is a Canadian airport, it serves isolated destinations with the same frequency as big cities. Air North, Canadian North, and First Air all fly to remote destinations in Ontario and the Eastern Arctic. In a seasonal twist, Canadian North offers charter flights to Miami.
- US Airlines. There are three American airlines in YOW; Delta, American Eagle, and a subsidiary of United, United Express. These companies offer regular flights to major American cities such as Chicago, New York, and Detroit.