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London, Ontario

London International Airport (YXU)

London International Airport, 10 Seabrook Way, London, Ontario, on Google Maps 

Say London and most people think London “across the pond” in England. This London is in Ontario. The Ontario in Canada, not the one in Southern California.

London International Airport (YXU) is about 6 miles (9.3 km) northeast of the city that is in the middle of a peninsula sandwiched on the north by Lake Huron, on the south by Lake Erie and on the west by the Detroit River. London is half-way between Detroit, 120 miles (194 km) to the southwest and Toronto to the northeast.

It takes 20 minutes to drive between the airport and downtown London in normal traffic. The airport is accessed from other parts of the southern Ontario peninsula off Highway 401, exiting at Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and going north about 6 miles (10 km) to Oxford Street where you turn right to go to the terminal area.

Metropolitan London’s population is about 550,000. Another 580,000 people are in the adjacent Kitchener-Waterloo metro area about 70 miles (113 km) to the northeast.

London is home to the University of Western Ontario, or Western University as it calls itself, and Fanshawe College. Between the two there are more than 50,000 students living in the city, making for a fun college vibe in part of the city. Beyond that, London has become a center for medical research, technology and financial industries. Surrounded mostly by plains and some of the most fertile farm land in Canada, agribusinesses and manufacturing have long played important roles in London’s economy.

So how did there come to be a London in Canada?

It goes back to 1791 when Britain’s Parliament created the colony of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and appointed Army General John Graves Simcoe as lieutenant governor responsible for establishing a government modeled after British law for the loyalists who had fled to the area after the American Revolutionary War. Simcoe, who saw significant action for the British Army in that war, determined Upper Canada’s capital at the southern end of the province (what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake) was an unsuitable location, being just across a river from the United States and one of its arsenals. Simcoe found a new site for development of a permanent capital and named it London. He also named a river at the site, the Thames. In the meantime, he temporarily moved the capital to Toronto. For health reasons Simcoe returned to England in 1796 and later resigned his position in Canada. When London was officially founded 1826, the decision was made not to move the capital from Toronto. The temporary location became permanent.

terminal layout
Passenger routes through the London airport terminal.
(Credit: London International Airport)

Renovated in 2003, the YXU airport terminal is a sleek modern building with all facilities on the ground floor. There are four gates with jet bridges and additional space for airlines to ground board from the tarmac.

Concessions in the terminal include On the Fly, a quick-service restaurant in the departures area that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring both made-to-order and pre-packaged items as well as a bar. On the Fly also has duty-free items for sale for international travelers. In the pre-security area there is a Marketplace featuring grab-and-go items to eat and a retail shop.

Ground transportation options at the London airport terminal include an official airport taxi and limousine provider and on-site car rental companies. Uber operates in the London area, including at the airport. The city’s public transit system, London Transit, serves the airport. Intercity bus service is available from the airport on Sarnia Transit which departs two to three times per day on a 2½-hour route to Sarnia on Lake Huron, with five stops along the way. All ground transportation options are available curbside outside the terminal.

TO/FROM TUCSON

Flair Airlines passengers arrive London International Airport at the D and E gates using the pathway shown in green on the terminal diagram. For departing flights, Flair starts online check-in 24 hours before scheduled departure and opens its airport check-in counter three hours before departure. All check-in for international flights ends one hour before departure.

London International Airport website

Find Your Way Around Forest City

Known as the Forest City for the thickets of greenery surrounding the city and its neighborhoods of tree-lined streets and lush parks, all of which become white in winter. The change in seasons doesn’t dampen the hospitality or the drive to go outdoors. In winter there’s skating in Storybook Gardens and tobogganing in a park that transitions to tubing in the summer. There’s a young, hip vibe in London, due in large part to its two large universities.

Information about planning a trip is at Tourism London.

Did You Know …?

The ‘birthplace of Insulin’ is London, Ontario

The Banting House featuring a statue of Sir Frederick Banting dedicated by Queen Elizabeth in 1989.
(Credit: Tourism London)

After serving in World War I as a doctor, Sir Frederick Banting returned to Canada hoping to establish a medical practice in Toronto but found the city already had too many doctors. He moved to London where he bought a house at 442 Adelaide Street North in June 1920. Once again the efforts to establish his practice didn’t fare well. He went to work for the University of Western Ontario where while researching for a lecture on the pancreas Banting began to think about what made the organ dysfunctional. At 2 a.m. October 31, 1920, he awoke and jotted a note to himself about pancreatic production of the hormone insulin and how it could be manipulated to produce insulin that could prolong the lives of Type 1 diabetics. The following Spring Banting returned to Toronto where he was able to continue experiments to confirm his theory. On January 23, 1922, an insulin injection almost immediately normalized blood sugar levels in a nearly dying 13-year-old boy. Word of the success spread quickly. The following year Banting was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Banting’s London house was acquired by the Canadian Diabetes Association and opened as a museum in 1984. Visitors can now tour the Banting House National Historic Site and see the room where he practiced medicine and the bedroom where he came to his theory in the middle of the night.

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Tucson International Airport
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