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Passport for US flight connecting thru Canada?

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Think I made the mistake of taking the bargain flight. I don't mind connecting flights or layovers which is probably why I didn't focus on the details but... Booked r/t United flight (all United flight numbers) from HNL to CLE but for some reason the return flight routes through Toronto. I didn't think twice about it. It didn't dawn on me that I might need a passport until after the 24-hr change/cancel period had passed. It looks like I need to have one but wanted to know if anyone had any experience with this issue. Do I really need to have one? Will I have to go through customs and immigration when I'm not leaving the airport? Seems strange to book a flight from one US city to another on a US carrier only to be routed through another country. Why would an airline even do that? (ok dumb question). Or why not add a notation like they do for overnight/redeye flights? I am thoroughly frustrated with myself for not paying attention since my passport is expired.

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