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Vancouver Airport - Some basic facts about YVR

 

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.  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.

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.

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.

Helen's Tours'n'Travel:

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 3:00am-9:30pm (03:00-21:00).

Getting to  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 LimousineVancouver 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:

Pacific coach Lines operates a once daily direct bus service from both Cruise ship terminals directly to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Return Fare is about $50 US, one way about half that. Price includes the ferry fare. Check out this link for more info: http://www.pacificcoach.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=schedule.cruiseship

 

Getting to Victoria from the Airport:

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..

Here is the link to their web site Pacific Coach Lines . The latest schedule will be posted there.

There are also Limo services, see the getting to Whistler section above, for links. Helen's Tours'n'Travel described in a section above will also take you to the Ferry.

Helicopters:

Helijet offer Helicopter service to Victoria and to Whistler. Price to either is $160 to $180 one way. Go to their web site for more details.

Seattle Airport:

If you are landing at Seattle Tacoma Airport, there is a shuttle service. Here is their Webpage: Quick Shuttle Express Bus Service.

 

             
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