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The Complete Guide to Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW)

Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW) serves as the gateway to the nation’s capital and se...

Last updated: 2024-02-24

Read time 11 mins

Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW) serves as the gateway to the nation’s capital and sees over four million passengers a year.

Location and Transportation

Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is located 14 kilometres from Downtown Ottawa at 1000 Airport Parkway Private, Ottawa. The airport is located within the National Capital Region and the Ottawa–Gatineau Metropolitan Area.

OC Transpo, Ottawa’s public transit system, operates regular bus service and on-demand paratransit service between the city and the airport.

Bus 97 is the only scheduled bus service that serves Ottawa International Airport. During regular hours, it terminates at Hurdman East Station, where connections can be made to downtown Ottawa, and during the early morning and late night hours, it continues on to Rideau Station in the downtown area.

Keep in mind that Bus 97 isn’t a 24/7 service; the route stops running between the hours of 2am and 6am, so you’ll need to make arrangements with other modes of transportation during this time.

You can find complete route information and timetables on the OC Transit website.

The Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport is also serviced by taxis that form a queue outside the centre arrivals door. The taxi stand also has an on-site queue attendant who can make arrangements for an accessible vehicle if needed.

Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft are both able to pick up and drop off passengers at the Ottawa International Airport; however, the airport charges a $3.25 (all figures in CAD) drop-off fee and a $4 pick-up fee, which is passed along to the passenger in the rideshare fare.

In terms of car rentals, the following companies can be found on-site at the Parkade (P1) Level of the airport:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Routes
  • Thrifty


Ottawa/Macdonald–Cartier International Airport operates only one passenger terminal building that serves domestic, international, and US transborder flights.

Ottawa Airport terminal

The airport is composed of three floors:

  • Level 1 serves as the arrivals area, and the location of baggage claim and ground transportation services..
  • Level 2 is home to the departure gates and the airport’s administration offices.
  • Level 3 houses the check-in, security, and US pre-clearance areas.

Departure gates at Ottawa International Airport are designated as follows:

  • Gates 1–6, 11, and 12 are used for US transborder flights.
  • Gates 13–28 are used interchangeably for domestic and international flights.

The gates designated for US transborder flights are located in a US pre-clearance area and are thus kept separate from the rest of the departure gates.

Airlines and Destinations

Most year-round flights departing from Ottawa International Airport are to domestic and US destinations. There are also seasonal routes to sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico, such as Punta Cana, Cancun, and Montego Bay.

The airport also has one trans-atlantic route, with Air France providing non-stop flights to Paris five to seven times per week (depending on the season).

The following airlines operate in and out of Ottawa International Airport:

Star Alliance

  • Air Canada
  • United Airlines


  • Air France

Other Airlines

  • Air North
  • Air Transat
  • Canadian North
  • Flair Airlines
  • PAL Airlines
  • Porter Airlines
  • Sunwing Airlines
  • WestJet


Ottawa International Airport houses two lounges, one operated by Air Canada and another operated by Aspire.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Ottawa International Airport can be accessed by domestic and international (non-US) passengers. It’s located near Gate 18 and is open daily from 4:30am to 9:15pm.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Ottawa – Main seating area

Aspire Salon Lounge

The Aspire Salon Lounge can be accessed by domestic and international (non-US) passengers, and accepts Priority Pass and DragonPass memberships. It’s located near Gate 18 and is open daily from 5am to 8pm on weekdays and from 10am to 6pm on weekends.

Priority Services

If you’re flying in a premium cabin, hold elite airline status, and/or certain credit cards, you may be able to access the following priority services (when available) at Ottawa International Airport:

  • Priority check-in counters
  • Priority security clearance
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Lounge access
Ottawa Airport – Verified Traveller lane

Additionally, Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders are given access to priority security queues at the domestic/international checkpoint by simply presenting a valid card.

At Ottawa International Airport, you can also use a number of programs to make your security and customs experience faster and more streamlined.

If you’re entering the US through the Ottawa International Airport’s US pre-clearance facility, you can take advantage of Mobile Passport Control, which allows you to complete your entry declarations in advance and access an express line.

When flying in to Ottawa from a US or international location, the Advance CBSA Declaration expedites your entry into Canada by allowing you to complete your declaration form ahead of time and providing you access to an express queue.

You can also use trusted traveler programs, such as NEXUS and Global Entry to improve your airport experience and to have access to the Verified Traveller lane at security.

Airport Hotels

There are currently no on-site hotels at the Ottawa International Airport, but there are three hotels fairly close by: Fairfield Inn & Suites Ottawa Airport, Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport, and Days Inn Ottawa Airport.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Ottawa Airport

Each of these three hotels offers shuttle service to and from the airport.

In addition to the above choices, there are a number of other accommodation options available within the area and in nearby downtown Ottawa.

International Transfers

For those arriving at Ottawa International Airport from outside Canada, you’ll need to go through passport control upon arrival.
Following this, you can then proceed to collect your baggage and check-in for your next flight as usual.

US Pre-clearance

If you’re departing on or connecting to a flight to the United States, you must clear US customs and immigration at Ottawa International Airport’s US pre-clearance facility. US Customs and Border Protection agents process passengers from 4:15am to 7:30pm.

To expedite your journey through US pre-clearance, you may use NEXUS, Global Entry, or Mobile Passport Control.

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