Save Time at Canada’s 5 Busiest Airports with the EXPRESS Security Program

At Frugal Flyer, we have a love/hate relationship with airports. While we love traveling and experiencing everything a new destination has to offer, we hate the necessary but cumbersome airport process. Fortunately, there is a new program that’s been rolling out across airports in Canada that aims to make the security screening process a little bit smoother. 

Read on to learn more about the EXPRESS program!

What is the EXPRESS program?

The EXPRESS program allows you to reserve a time up to 72 hours in advance for the security line at Canada’s 5 busiest airports. This saves you time and makes your travel experience much more predictable and thus less stressful!

Where can I use the EXPRESS program?

You can use the EXPRESS program at 5 of Canada’s busiest airports. In alphabetical order, the five participating airports: 

  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  • Montréal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

What do the 5 airports’ EXPRESS programs have in common?

Each of the 5 EXPRESS programs lets you book your reservation 72 hours prior to your flight departure time. They all send you a confirmation email with a QR code, and each one gives you a 15-minute “grace” window on either side of your designated time. Thus, if your reservation is at 9:30 am, you may go to the security checkpoint anytime between 9:15-9:45 am.  

You can also book for all passengers in your party if you are on the same flight (up to 10). However, everyone would need to arrive at security together. All 5 programs apply to domestic flights to Canadian destinations, and may also apply to some international destinations, depending on the airport.

How do the 5 programs differ from each other?

The EXPRESS program varies by airport as to which international destinations are eligible for this program. Below is a handy summary comparing each of the 5 airports. As this was written in mid-February 2023, we highly recommend you visit the website of your departure airport before booking your EXPRESS reservation to ensure you are viewing the most current information.

AirportProgram NameAvailable for Canadian Domestic Flights?Available for U.S. Flights?Available for all other International Flights?

(excluding U.S.)
Hours of Availability
Calgary International
YYC EXPRESSYes, but you need to enter via Security Area D (even if your flight is in Concourses A, B and C). Allow extra time to get from Security D to concourses A, B and C.Yes, via  Security Area E.Yes, but you need to enter via Security Area D. Most international (non-US) flights depart from Terminal D.Security D:
6:00 am –12:30 pm

Security E:
4:00am – 12 noon
YEG EXPRESSYesNoYes4:30 am – 12:30 pm
Trudeau International
YUL EXPRESSYes, domestic and international from security checkpoint A.NoYes, domestic and international from security checkpoint A3:30 am to 9:00 pm and
3:00 pm to 8:00 pm, only at Security checkpoint A
Toronto Pearson
YYZ EXPRESSYesNoYesTerminal 1: 5:00 am – 9:00 pm

Terminal 3: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
YVR EXPRESSYes for Canadian Domestic flights which depart from the main terminal.

Note that EXPRESS is not available for Canadian domestic flights that depart from the South Terminal.

They indicate it will eventually be expanded to other international destinations, but no timeframe is provided.
Canada flights: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm (security checkpoint 3 in the main terminal)

US flights: 5:00 am – 7:00 pm (security checkpoint E).

How to Use EXPRESS to Skip the Normal Security Screening Line

Each of the 5 airports has a similar (and very simple!) process. All that is required is an internet connection, so you can make your reservation on your computer or smartphone. No login is required, and no app is needed. Below some example images from YVR are included, but the 4-step process is the same with all 5 airports.

Overview of the steps:

Step 1:  Go to the EXPRESS website of your departure airport:

Step 2:  Select your airline, destination, and flight number, plus the number of people in your party and your email address to save your spot.

Step 3: You will be given time(s) you can reserve, assuming times are still available. Simply pick your time and confirm. You’ll then receive a confirmation email confirming your time and telling you where you need to go. If you do not receive a confirmation email within a few minutes, please double-check your spam or junk folder. Below is a sample confirmation email.

Please note that the bottom part of that email (not shown above) will contain a QR code, which will be scanned when you arrive at security. Pro tip: Be sure to “flag” that email, or better yet, take a screenshot(s) of the security checkpoint and time, and the QR code.

Step 4: Once you are at the airport, check any bags first. Then go to your assigned security screening checkpoint within 15 minutes of your reserved time. You can show up 15 minutes on either side of your assigned time, so you essentially have a 30-minute window. In the example above with a 7:15 am appointment, it would be possible to get in anytime between 7:00 – 7:30 am.

Step 5: Show airport staff your reservation QR code, and then you are ready to go through security screening.

Save time in Customs When Traveling to the United States with the Mobile Passport Control App

It’s important to note that after clearing security, you still need to clear U.S. Customs when traveling from the 5 airports above. Using the Mobile Passport App, developed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, will help expedite your U.S. customs clearance process if you are not already a member of a Trusted Traveler program. 

Presently the Mobile Passport Control App works for Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, and will work for Edmonton and Calgary starting February 28, 2023. Details here

Can I use the EXPRESS Program if I’m a NEXUS member?

The EXPRESS guidance differs by the airport for Trusted Travelers, such as NEXUS members, Global Entry members, active U.S. or Canadian military, Canadian aircrew and airport workers with Restricted Area Identification Cards (RAICs), international aircrew in uniform with valid airline ID, etc).

Generally, the EXPRESS program is intended for general passengers to provide a better screening experience at the gates security screening point with the highest demand. As Trusted Travelers, including NEXUS members, already have their own set of benefits which include a dedicated security lane, they are encouraged not to use the EXPRESS program where their Trusted Traveler program is available. 

However, since EXPRESS is an evolving program, we encourage Trusted Travelers to check the airport links above to see your airport’s current policy prior to traveling. You’ll likely find it in their airport-specific EXPRESS FAQs.


The EXPRESS security programs at the 5 busiest Canadian airports are a great option to save you time and make your travel experience most efficient and predictable. For domestic or international travelers, be sure to check if the program is available for your particular destination. Keep in mind that EXPRESS is for clearing security, and for international departing passengers you may still have to clear Customs as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no cost for any of the EXPRESS security programs. 

No, you do not need to create an account.

You can but it would be preferred to use the dedicated Trusted Traveler line instead, as using the EXPRESS program means you’d have to go through “general” security screening.

Yes, simply use the change/cancel link in the confirmation email.

No, you must manually change your EXPRESS reservation. You can do so by clicking on the change/cancel link in your confirmation email.

All five programs provide a 15-minute “grace period” on either side of your appointment time. So if your appointment is at 9:30 am, you may enter the central security screening area anytime between 9:15 and 9:45 am.

This is not recommended since availability is limited. However, it is sometimes possible to use the same reservation process if there is still availability. Several programs specify that you’ll need to book it at least a few hours before your flight. For the best availability, we recommend you make the appointment just inside the 72-hour window.

If you are sure that you typed your email address correctly, then please check your spam or junk mail folder.

Yes, you can present a physical copy of the QR code.

No, unless you inadvertently leave the security area, you will not need to use the EXPRESS program on connecting flights at the airports above.

As of February 2023, the EXPRESS security program is only available at YYC, YEG, YUL, YYZ, and YVR.

Yes, the EXPRESS program is open to all travelers.

Mike Newman-Jones

Mike Newman-Jones

Ever since his childhood trip to Epcot Center and Disney World in Florida, Mike has loved to travel. His curiosity was piqued after two lower tier credit card welcome offers essentially paid for his roundtrip travel to South Asia in 2018, and he started sleuthing strategies to facilitate free or low-cost trips. He enjoys sharing those strategies with others who also delight in discovering dazzlingly good deals that enable the exploration of other countries and cultures.
Mike Newman-Jones

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