Montreal Airport Guide

Tips for navigating Montreal's Trudeau Airport.
By: Paul Glassman
Show: The Layover
Episode: Montreal

Photo by: BriYYZ through Flickr Creative Commons

BriYYZ through Flickr Creative Commons

Montreal’s Trudeau Airport (YUL) is more than a destination airport. Passengers flying between continents ease their transition in a city that combines European flair with the efficiency of North America. And while the province of Quebec outside the airport proudly displays its French face, English is used and understood everywhere in the airport. 

Trudeau Airport Location
Trudeau Airport is only 10 miles west of the center of Montreal. Signs throughout Montreal point to Aéroport Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, but it’s often called Dorval Airport, which is a reference to the suburb where it’s located. 

Coming and Going 
Snow is unlikely to cause more than a hiccup. Canadians are prepared for inclemency. Fair-weather access can be another matter. 

Roads all around the airport are being torn up and reconstructed to accommodate a rapid-transit line and revamped interchange. Short-term relief is on the way with reserved bus and taxi lanes to be implemented on the expressway to downtown Montreal. Direct access by train is years away, though a commuter station and a stop on the Montreal-Toronto VIA Rail route are located about a mile away. 

The most convenient transportation option from the terminal to downtown is the 24-hour, 747 bus route. Vehicles have plenty of luggage space, stop near major hotels, and terminate at the central bus station. The $8 ticket (exact change in Canadian coins) is valid for the day on the entire bus and metro network

By taxi, the fixed fare to downtown is $38; metered rates apply to more distant destinations. Limousine fares start at $50. 

If you rent a car, follow the signs to Dorval, Highway 20 and Centre-Ville (downtown). But first inquire about current detours. 

There are 3 departure areas: domestic, transborder (US) and international. Get your bearings to avoid retracing your steps. Passengers headed for the United States clear US Customs and Border Protection before boarding, avoiding long lines upon landing.

New Developments
The international arrivals hall is cavernous, following completion of renovations in 2009, and the duty-free shop has expanded its size. Dozens of stores and shops sell souvenirs and fast food. Chair and table massages are available from Airspa in departure areas. Aside from airline-specific lounges, the TD first-class lounge in the international departures area can be booked for about $30. Everything you need is under 1 roof. 

The Overnighter
The new terminal includes a Marriott Hotel with 279 rooms, pool and fitness center. The airport grounds include an Aloft Hotel and a Sheraton. Among the nearest off-airport hotels with shuttles are the Fairfield Inn and the Comfort Inn Dorval. Within a couple of miles are a Best Western, Days Inn and Travelodge. 

Day Tripping
Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can usually count on getting to downtown Montreal and back in a half hour by the 747 bus. Take advantage of the time between planes to chill at a sidewalk café, power shop in boutiques on Rue St. Denis, view Old Montreal from a horse-drawn calèche, or sample incomparable Montreal bagels redolent of a wood-burning oven. 

The immediate area around the airport is suburban. For a variety of local shopping, take the 204 or 209 bus from the terminal ($3 in coins) 1 stop to the Dorval transit station (or walk on a pleasant day, about a mile through the parking lots). Cross to the large shopping center on the south side of the highway. Here you’ll find La Baie (Hudson’s Bay Company) department store and assorted Canadian-flavored shopping opportunities. 

For a taste of Montreal’s West Island before it was suburbanized, continue with the same bus ticket on the 211 bus from Dorval to old Pointe-Claire. Get off on Bord-du-Lac, the road parallel to the St. Lawrence River, and stroll by the old stone mill. There are enough cafés, curio shops and pubs to pique your interest for several hours. 

Food Finds
The restaurant of choice at Trudeau Airport is Cabine M, a steak house and wine bar overlooking the runways in the international departure area. A simplified haute-cuisine menu based on local specialties includes maple-smoked salmon, steaks, cheese plates and charcuterie. If you’re not flying internationally, head for the upscale, but still informal, Bijou Resto Bar in the Marriott Hotel. 

Elsewhere in the airport, Subway and Burger King coexist with local brands like St-Hubert Express (roast chicken) and Brûlerie St-Denis (fresh coffee and pastries). Casey’s, in the public concourse, has table service and an American-style menu, while the Métrople has a more local flavor. Tim Hortons is the quintessential Canadian stop for coffee and donuts. Sit-down service includes Weinstein & Gavino’s (pizza and sandwiches, (US departures only); Tatami Sushi (US and international departures only); and Moe’s Deli (Canadian flights only). 

Going Mobile 
Bell Canada has internet/email kiosks. Free Wi-Fi access is available in departure areas; paid Wi-Fi works elsewhere. 

For airport information, dial (514) 394-7377 or (800) 465-1213, email, or visit Aeroports de Montreal. SMS flight updates are available from your airline, or directly from the airport. Or text your 2-letter airline code and flight number to 23636 for automatic updates.

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