Inside Pearson Airport’s ultra-luxe private hub for celebs, executives and well-to-dos
Ever wonder why famous types are rarely spotted idling by the baggage carousel or in the customs line? At Pearson, three deluxe operators exist solely to convey the super-rich in and out of the city. We slipped past security long enough to find out how the 0.01 per cent flies.
1. Skycharter, private operator No.1
2. Landmark, private operator No. 2
3. The fancy vehicles compound: Staff clear the snow and ice off passengers’ cars and warm them up, though the seriously celestial usually have their own people to do this.
4. The jumbo hangar: Inside, there’s a mammoth 100-foot jet that’s typically used by two execs at a time, a CEO and a CFO, say, who will fly around the world together, touching down five or six times for meetings.
5. Skyservice, private operator No. 3
6. VIP facilities: A CEO typically flies in, meets at one of the boardrooms, then flies back out without ever leaving the airport.
7. The tricked-out lounge: Snooze rooms are equipped with La-Z Boy leather loungers and a fireplace. Musicians often shower here after concerts and before boarding.
A few famous faces who prefer private
It’s a well-known fact that Bell and MLSE each keep a jet here, so George Cope and Larry Tanenbaum are regulars. They’re in good company: the Dalai Lama is a customer (so are the Jays, Leafs and Raps). The last time Don Cherry came through, staff were so visibly excited that he invited them onto his tow vehicle for a photo. Conrad Black avoided the media during his Escape From Florida thanks to Skyservice, which kept a plane on standby in Miami and shepherded him into a car on touchdown. Bill Clinton shook loose his Secret Service men, walked up to two Skyservice employees and said, “Girls! Who wants a photo?” then posed with his arms around them, prompting eye rolls from his detail. Justin Bieber exited his plane clutching his hood over his head, shielding his face from a presumed horde of fans—but it was just a few amused staff. The “private” part of “private airport” is evidently still new to Master Bieber.
What flying private means
Tarmac service: Chauffeurs drive up to the plane and handlers take luggage from car to plane and vice versa.
No customs lines: Passport info is sent to customs in advance, and passengers are pre-cleared via phone, subject to a sporadic check on the plane on arrival.
No sitting at the gate: The plane is fuelled and ready for takeoff before passengers arrive.
Concierges: They’ll arrange just about anything, including concert tickets, accommodations and food runs.
Special requests: Business execs from the Caribbean have been known to load the luggage hold with snow to take home for snowball fights.
Ka-ching: All told, chartering costs up to $10,000 an hour, plus a ramp fee of $150 to $1,500 (concierge included), depending on the aircraft.