The map below is from the Vancouver Airport Web Site and is
reproduced as an overview only. To get more details, click on it, and you will be taken to
their Site. The new rapid transit station is located in the Parkade.
More maps and detailed information available at Vancouver Airports
Web Site at Welcome to the Vancouver
International Airport. The site contains extensive information about the
facility including information on long & short term parking, shuttles, etc.
Vancouver's Airport has undergone massive expansion in the last few
years, and has been transformed from a sleepy little terminal to one of the busiest in
Canada, in the space of only 10 years. It has been rated as the best run Airport in North
America two years running. It is the second busiest Airport in Canada after Toronto's
Pearson Airport, and now handles about 2/3 the amount of traffic that facility does. A
mere 6 or 7 years ago it handled less than a quarter. It is the second busiest Airport on
the West Coast after Los Angeles.
The rapid increase in traffic at YVR, has taken everyone by surprise.
This is mainly due to the "Open Skies" agreement with the United States.
Vancouver is also ideally situated in a straight line, between the Eastern US and Asia,
and Vancouver is pretty well the only major West Coast city close enough to Tokyo or Hong
Kong, that a refuelling stop is not required. This fact, coupled with Vancouver's status as
a major tourist destination and cruise ship port have made the Airport a busy place on
most days, especially in the summer months. Further expansion is planned, but you should
plan on allowing yourself plenty of time when catching outgoing flights, especially on
summer weekends. Unlike most airports, you do not have to empty your wallet in order to
eat at Vancouver International. Food prices are the same as in any other location in the
city. Vancouver Airport has also just been rated No.1 in the world in employee
productivity and efficiency.
Most international visitors are surprised at the ambiance in Vancouver
Airport. It is among the worlds most attractive Airport Terminals. Depending on what gate you arrive at, you walk through reproduced scenes of
British Columbia done in an Aboriginal theme with waterfalls, running streams and so on.
I've been in many airports around the world, and this one is one of the most relaxing to
arrive in I'm aware of.
The adjacent Domestic Terminal is being redone to match the feel of the
International Terminal. It is easy to walk to the Domestic Terminal from the International
Terminal and you can do so without going outside. This makes connections to other Canadian
Cities quite easy and straightforward. The Domestic Terminal is to your left as you face
the exit doors in the International Terminal.
The Airport contains several excellent examples of West Coast Haida
Indian Art that are worth taking a look at, if you have time before a flight. The Airport
also has several money changing facilities. You will get a better rate at a bank, but the
places in the Airport are handy for getting you started or changing back left over
Canadian currency when you leave.
A new hotel has recently opened within the Airport terminal. The 392
room Fairmount Hotel is pricey at $200-$300 Canadian a night, but is state of the art with
superb sound proofing and service.
There is a fair sized duty free at the Airport. If you are traveling to
or returning to the United States, you go through US Customs at Vancouver Airport rather
than when you arrive in the United States. This seems very unusual, but its actually kind
of nice, since you arrive at your US destination like any other domestic US flight. You
need to take this into account when planning your arrival time at the airport, since this
can add a bit of time. This also means you must purchase any duty free before passing
through US immigration. You will likely not be able to buy duty free upon your arrival in
the US. You actually have to walk through the duty free store in order to get to US
immigration. Please note than when arriving at Vancouver Airport from abroad, you cannot
buy duty free on your arrival before passing through Canadian immigration. You have to buy
your duty free at your departure point or on the aircraft. If you are not Canadian, be
sure to claim your GST (goods & Services Tax) rebate when you leave the country. See
my section on the GST for details. Please note that you cannot access a
duty free store upon entering the country before you pass through customs. Buy any duty
free at your point of departure.
Visitors to Canada may bring in free of duties a maximum of 40 oz. (1.14
litres) of liquor or wine or 24 x 12 oz. (355ml) bottles or cans of beer or ale (8.5
litres), up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos and 2.2 lbs. (1 kg.) of tobacco.
Visitors importing such items must be over 18 years of age.
If you are leaving from Vancouver Airport, you should be
aware that there is a Departure Tax (called the Airport Improvement Fee). You cannot get
on the plane without paying it, and it is NOT included in your ticket price. It is $5 for
domestic Flights, $10 for US bound flights and $15 for international (Canadian funds). You
can buy it at a booth or use a charge card in one of the many machines scattered around
the terminal. This is not the same as the departure taxes included
in your ticket, it is something extra. Before you complain, try leaving from some other
world airports. I had to pay $20 US in both Costa Rica & the Dominican Republic for
Getting to Downtown from the Airport:
If you do not mind using public transit, the easiest way to get downtown is on Vancouver's rapid transit system. There is a station located right outside the terminal building
at the Parkade. Since this station is elevated, it is tough to miss. Trains will get you downtown in about 25 minutes and
conveniently the last station on the line is at the Alaska Cruise ship terminal. Fares to and from the Airport a a couple of dollars more than regular transit fares.
This is not a light rail system, like most of Vancouver's rapid transit,
it has full sized cars, so luggage is not a big issue.
The "Airporter" Express Bus will get you to and from downtown for $14.
These buses are easy to spot, being a dark lime green colour. If you plan on returning to
the Airport the same way, buy a round trip ticket for $22. There are cheaper Child, Senior
& family rates available. Buy your ticket from the bus operator. There are 3 routes
depending on what Hotel you are trying to reach. Buses leave from the Arrivals level of
both the International & Domestic Terminals every 30 minutes from 6:20 am to midnight.
The last bus leaves downtown at 30 minutes past midnight & you have to phone and
arrange for pickup any buses running after 11 PM. Buses do loops around the main Downtown
Hotels. These buses are 3 times the cost of the regular city bus, but less hassle. Their
phone number is 604-946-8866. They also have a toll free number at 1-800-668-3141. Some
Hotels, mainly those close to the Airport also have free Shuttles of their own.
Note: Some Canadian Domestic Carriers (notably WestJet)
are now using Abbotsford Airport instead of Vancouver International.
The Airport is a former military base located 60 Km or 40 miles east of
Vancouver. If you are taking a domestic flight within Canada on a
smaller Carrier, be aware of this. As Vancouver International becomes
more crowded, more and more small Carriers are likely to relocate to
Abbotsford. There is even talk of flights to India from there. For more
info on Abbotsford Airport & transportation options between there &
Vancouver check out the
Abbotsford Airport Website.
These folks will take you to
& from the Airport to some of the harder places to reach such as White
Rock/Langley. They will also shuttle you to the cruise ship terminals, the
Ferry's to Vancouver Island, etc.
Phone: 604-538-8687 (office: 9:00am-9:30pm 7 days-a-week) (transport: from
Whistler from Airport:
Your first option for to Whistler, is to first get downtown (see
above), and then take the Skytrain Eastbound from Waterfront, Burrard & Pender or Granville &
Georgia to Main Street Station. Across the street from the station is the main Vancouver
Bus Depot, from which you can catch a bus to either Victoria or Whistler. There are a
couple of alternatives. For Whistler, Perimeter
Transportation offers several direct buses a day between the Airport & Whistler
for about $45. Whistler Star Express also offers a similar service at a slightly cheaper price. If you decide to go downtown
and catch the regular bus, you are looking at about $17 for the bus, $10 for the airport
shuttle and about $2 for the Skytrain, so you will save about $10 overall, but
pay the price in hassle & time. There are also a few Limo services offering
transport to Whistler and/or Victoria such as MalRob Limousine , Whistler Limousine, Vancouver Limousine Service , VIP Limousine , Limo Platinum , Platinum Limousine, Alpine North & XP Limousine
A new service will begin in November 2004 offering a cheaper alternative to
Whistler. It is called Snow Bus.
Getting to Victoria from the Cruise Ship Terminal:
The best way to do this is to pick up Pacific Coach lines who operate a bus
right onto the ferry & into downtown Victoria once every 2 hours from about 7AM
to 8 PM. It makes a stop at the Airport terminal..