“ Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR, ICAO: CYVR) is located on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, about 15 kilometres from downtown Vancouver. It is the second busiest airport in Canada, behind Toronto Pearson International Airport, with non-stop flights daily to Asia, Europe, Oceania (starting in November 2007), the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other airports within Canada. In 2006, Vancouver International, saw 16.9 million passengers and 332,307 movements. It is an Air Canada hub as well as a focus city for WestJet. The Vancouver International Airport is one of eight Canadian Airports that have U.S. border preclearance facilities. „
Vancouver airport (YVR) is the main airport that serves western Canada and it serves major international and Canadian destinations as well as many local and regional airports.
The airport is located in the southern area of the city and is easily accessible by public transport, car or taxi. The public transport connection is provided by the new Canada Line of Vancouver's Sky Train (which is actually an underground train for a substantial part of this line). It takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes to get to the airport by car (this varies vastly depending on traffic and will be much longer in the rush hour) from central Vancouver areas and around 1 hour by public transport. A taxi cost around 25-35 CAD depending on your starting point (we paid 35 including the tip from the area around Commercial/Broadway).
Despite being a fairly big airport (although small enough to have just one terminal), Vancouver is fairly low in stress-inducing characteristics endemic to such locations. It seems like a well designed airport that does its best to minimise this endemic (and probably unavoidable stress).
Check-in hall is long and narrow, with clearly marked desks and enough room for people to queue but not enough to get lost. The catering and shopping areas are located at two ends of the hall, and don't get confusingly mixed up with the check in.
The one feature of Vancouver airport that makes it particularly pleasant - or perhaps it would be better to say, not as unpleasant as airports usually are - is the presence of artworks, foliage and water features.
At one end of the check-in hall there is a circular area with benches around a totem pole next to a stone wall along which a small waterfall runs. At the other end there is a magnificent brass of ancestor spirits in a canoe by the most famous Native North-West Coast artist, Bill Reid. On the air side, there are more artworks as well as a large fish tank (when we looked there were two scuba divers in it as well as many colourful fish). There are trees, pond and stream water features and numerous seating areas. Shopping is present, with a good selection of gift items, travel essentials (though book selection was poor in all three locations I went to) and not-so-good but sufficient selection of duty free. But shops don't dominate the landscape which in my books is definitely a Good Thing.
In the gate areas, there is plenty of seating, children play areas and monitors playing The Treehouse (Canadian kids' TV channel, no ads).
The bathrooms are spacious and usually within easy walking distance, and the wi-fi is free.
Altogether, from a user point of view, a pretty good airport and one that makes the nightmare of flying just a little bit more bearable.
If any of you have read any of my recent reviews, you will know I back in January I spent three weeks in Canada. Whilst there I spent two weeks in Vancouver and a week in the Yukon. For this to be possible I had to use Vancouver airport on four separate occasions. This gave me a pretty good idea of the airport and so it seems only right I should review it.
Vancouver airport is located in Richmond, one of the out lying areas of Vancouver. The airport is the the South of downtown and is about a twenty minute drive from the city centre, although this depends on traffic. The airport has excellent transport links, we used a taxi on one occasion, we twice used the sky train which is very easy to use. And we also hired a car and found no problems finding our way upon leaving the airport.
Vancouver airport is Canada second biggest airport next to Toronto. As you can imagine this makes this a very large and at times bust airport. My first experience of the airport was on arrival from our flight from Amsterdam.
The first thing you always notice in airports is the passport control. It was easy to get to and the people working there were unusually friendly. It normally impossible to get so much as a smile from these guys, but the ones in Vancouver were very friendly and one of them even cracked a joke! It was all very well organised and we got through very quickly.
There were big screens all around directing us to our luggage carousel. The next thing I noticed was how beautiful this section of the airport was. I have a feeling much of it has been given a face lift for the Olympics but this is no bad thing. All around was local art and traditional carvings. A massive waterfall cascaded down the centre of the stairs as we descended from the upper level. I really did not feel like I was in an airport!
Are bags started arriving as soon as we got to the carousel, and to our relieve our bags were on of the first off. It was east to find our way out of the airport, there were handy cash machines which we needed. An we were helped to find a taxi that would be big enough for my friends snowboard bag. All in all in was quick and easy, everything you would want after a twelve our flight.
Our next experience of the airport was a few days later when we were flying north to the Yukon. We entered the airport and really struggled finding our check in point. Everything seemed to be well sign posted but we could not find our 'Air North' check in desk. We soon gave up and went looking for help. the lady at the help desk was very nice. She told us we were in the wrong part of the building a drew us a map of how to get to the right end. She even offered to have someone take us there.
Ten minutes later we had found our check in, tucked away at the back of the airport. Apparently not many people fly to the Yukon! The people on the desk were wonderful, so friendly and helpful. They upgraded us to better seats and ask us what adventures we had planned. We were really made to feel welcome.
Next we went to find some food. We were in the smaller part of the airport as this was just an internal flight. However there were still plenty of shops to look in, and a few nice restaurants and bars. WE found a quiet on to have our breakfast in.
The service we received in this bar was not great. We only had twenty five minutes before we needed to move through into the boarding area. So we asked the waiter if we would have time for breakfast. He said we would. He was the most miserable person we met on out whole trip. While taking our order he never smiled once. He wandered off and our food took nearly fifteen minutes to arrive. Fortunately a waitress brought our food and was much more friendly and helpful. We said we were in a hurry so she brought is our bill while we ate our food. Now I must mention, despite having to wolf down my breakfast, it was probably the best one I had in Canada. Three eggs, crispy bacon, beans, hash browns, some awesome toast and a few strawberries and a piece of mango. Delicious! And a beer to wash it all down. The prices were very reasonable as well to say we were in an airport.
After our rushed gobble, we went through all the buzzers and beepers. A little queue but it went down pretty fast. Again everyone was very friendly and helpful and we were soon waiting to be boarded. The flight was on time and there were no problems. Yet again I had no complaints apart from one grump waiter!
A week later we were back from the Yukon! We arrived in a different part of the airport this time as we were on an internal flight. I would say this section of the airport was not quite as glamorous and impressive as where we arrived last time, but it still was very nice. We had no problems picking up our baggage and again there were some very friendly staff around to help out if we had any problems.
For the next leg of our journey we were hiring a car. So we threw all our luggage on a trolley and went looking for the hire car area. We quickly found it despite it being quite a walk. The man on the desk was very helpful, he told us everything we needed to know about are car. My friend who fusses about everything inquired about an upgrade and the man on the desk was very patient and helpful. After deciding our car was fine we packed up and left the airport. It was very easy to find our way out of the car park, everything was well sign posted and we had no problems getting out and heading for Downtown. Another successful trip to the airport.
Our final experience with Vancouver airport came at the end of our holiday. We were flying back to Amsterdam. Our friends who we had stayed with warned us to set off very early for the airport. We were driving across town at mid afternoon and a drive that takes half an hour late at night, can take over two hours in rush hour. So we did the sensible thing and set off early. Traffic was bad, but not as bad as we had thought. So our journey took and hour which meant we had nearly three hours to kill at the airport.
This time we were in the part of the airport and had no problems finding our check in desk. Everything went smoothly and the staff were again friendly and helpful. After leaving the check in desk we hit the shops. After spending three weeks with each other me and my friend were sick of the sight of each other so we agreed to spilt up and meet half an hour before our flight for a beer.
So off I went into the massive airport lounge. There were all the shops you would expect to see at a large international airport. Plenty of shops selling alcohol and perfume, shops selling electronics, book shops and magazine shops, cloths shops, shops selling Olympic memorabilia and shops selling local art and gifts. Pretty much everything you could imagine. I soon got bored of all these shops and as I only had about $15 left I decided spending it on tat was not wise.
So I wandered. As I wandered it stuck me what a magical airport Vancouver actually is. I've been in quite a few airports over the years but this has to be the nicest. As I sat in a big comfy leather chair, watching the fish swim in the massive aquarium in front of me and hearing the sound of fountains and waterfalls cascade around me I realised. This is what Canada has been all about. It so relaxed and easy, so spectacular and beautiful, they have almost tried to create a miniature Canada in this airport. They have not done a bad job of it at all.
When it was time to meet my friend I headed for the bar we had agreed to meet in. To our surprise and almost for comic effect who were we greeted by? Our old friend the grumpy waiter. I assume the people in the other part of the airport had had enough of him making them all miserable so they relocated him here. If he remembered us he didn't let on, yet again he never smiled or tried to welcome us. He just sat us down and left us to it. Fortunately we got a different girl serving us and she was much more pleasant. We had a beer and spent the last of our change on a tip, we were hoping Mr Grumpy boots would not be seeing any of that!
So we headed for our flight. Again we had no problems getting through all the security, the checks were quick and easy, the staff were again friendly and helpful, as it seems pretty much all Canadians are. Then we were soon boarding our plane, on time and with little fuss.
Out of all the airports I have ever been too I would have to say this is by far the best. The facilities were excellent, the toilets were clean and easy to find. The staff were friendly and seemed to know what they were doing. There was plenty to do and see. Despite being a massive airport and a very busy one, I felt relaxed and at ease in the pleasant surroundings. Everything about Vancouver airport was first class.
I know you don't really choose the airport you visit, they are just a necessity of any trip. But if you our flying to Canada and you are heading anywhere near Vancouver, then this is a great airport to visit! They really do make you feel welcome here!
We arrived at Vancouver international airport on a flight from London Heathrow. I am afraid to say that upon arrival we had a connecting flight to make to Vancouver Island (Via float plane) so I did not have chance to take much in as it was bit of a rush due to out flight being an hour late arriving. However saying that the initial impressions were favourable. It has been several years since I had actually flown into Vancouver and I was impressed by the improvements that had been made. Much effort seems to have gone into bringing the airport out of the 80s style time warp it had been. Lots of money has been spent on melding the 21st century with native Indian heritage of the area. Everywhere you looked large Indian murals and statues sit comfortably next to the glass and steel of the buildings structure.
Customs was relatively straight forward with over head signs in several languages (English and French included) that directed us to the international visitors booths. W e were greeted in a very friendly and welcoming manner (not like America) and processed through. The customs officer noticed my numerous Canadian stamps on my passport, which, led much to the annoyance of the couple behind us a brief conversation about Nanaimo our destination, and the fact that that this particular officer actually knew my aunt and uncle.(Any way I digress).As before the directions were easy and clear so it was very easy for us to find our way to the Bus that takes you across the airport the 5 min journey to the South Terminal where were booked in courteously and efficiently.
As we were making a connecting flight we found that our luggage had automatically been collected and taken to the south terminal to be boarded onto our internal flight (We were very impressed with this) - This left us time to try and get ourselves to the South terminal ourselves.
The South Terminal Building
The South Terminal Building, and the public Seaplane Facility on the Fraser River, provides a regional hub for small aircraft, float planes, helicopter operations, corporate charters, sport fishing camps and aerospace facilities. There were a few coffee shops and restaurants and some commercial shopping outlets, but not as many as the main terminal as this terminal seems much more geared to local use- So if you have any last minute gifts to but then you are better off getting those in the main terminal
Internal Airlines that serve the South Terminal
Craig Air - Eagle air - Harbour Air --Hawkair - Helijet -Integra air - K D air corporation - Orca airways ltd - Pacific Costal airlines ltd and Sonicblue airways
Floatplanes that use the South Terminal
Amigo Airways - Baxter Aviation Pacific - Wings Airlines - Saltspring Island Air Seair Seaplanes - Tofino Air - West Coast Air.
The main terminals
The main terminals have everything an international traveller should and would require there are numerous shopping outlets from the ubiquitous Roots tastefully Canada to convenience stores such as 7 eleven too many in fact for me to mention individually -I recommend visiting the official airport web site to give you an idea. Should you be stuck here for any length of time then there are numerous food concessions to while away your time at from traditional burgers to Chinese, Japanese, pubs and Italians again have a look on the site. There are also duty free shops to spend those last loonies (A loonie is the name the Canadians have affectionalty give to the dollar due to the fact it has a picture on it of the the loone Canadas national bird).
There are two main terminals Domestic and International I have not used the Domestic Lounge so I can only comment on the international lounge
The departure lounge is on level 3 its large and airy yet somehow you dont feel small in this vast space. It is set out on two long arms that come together at the food hall and shopping area (There are concessions all through this area) It is a very relaxed area and there are lots of information booths and customer service assistance should you need them.
There are Several Bus tour operators outside the main frontage of the airport and there is terminal for local and nation busses at both of the terminas.
The local and national tourist information stations situated on the ground floor are excellent places for sorting out trnsport links and have a system for booking reservations with local hotels should you need it -Along with a wealth of local inforamtion and guide books/maps and leaflets.
There seemed to be plenty of wheel chair access and dedicated customer assistance for disabled travellers.
On the whole I found it all a very friendly and efficient experience - Unlike some other international airports that seem to wind you up even before you have boarded the plane. A good parting shot of Canada for a visitor I would think.