Air Travel


Air Travel

Flying time to Vancouver is 5½ hours from New York, 6½ hours from Montréal, 4 hours from Chicago, and 2½ hours from Los Angeles.

Security measures at Canadian airports are similar to those in the United States. Be sure you're not carrying anything that could be construed as a weapon: a letter opener, Swiss Army knife, a pair of scissors, or a toy weapon, for example.

Passengers departing from Vancouver must pay an airport-improvement fee before they can board their plane; however, this fee is now included directly in the cost of tickets, simplifying the process. The fee is C$5 for flights within British Columbia and the Yukon and C$20 for all other flights.

Airline Security Issues

Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration has answers for almost every question that might come up.


The major airport is Vancouver International Airport (YVR), in the suburb of Richmond about 16 km (10 miles) south of downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver International Airport is Canada's second-busiest airport, but it's easy to get around this spacious facility. Getting through the immigration process, though, can add 45 minutes to your travel time, so plan on getting there early. Extensive duty-free shopping, dining, spa, children's play areas, and other services are available, plus free Wi-Fi. Regular courtesy shuttles run between the Main and South Terminals.

Vancouver Island is served by Victoria International Airport. Otherwise, there are domestic airports in or near many towns on the island, including Campbell River, Comox, and Nanaimo. The tiny Tofino–Long Beach airport is 11 km (7 miles) outside the town of Tofino. Smaller communities without airports are served by floatplanes.

Vancouver International Airport is the closest airport to Whistler. The main airport for the Okanagan wine country is in Kelowna.

Ground Transportation

There are many options for getting downtown from Vancouver International Airport, a drive of about 20 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. If you're driving, go over the Arthur Laing Bridge and north on Granville Street (also signposted as Highway 99). Signs direct you to Vancouver city center.

The fastest and cheapest way to travel downtown or to points en route is via the Canada Line, part of TransLink, Vancouver's rapid-transit system, which delivers you downtown from the Vancouver International Airport in 25 minutes. The station is inside the airport, on level four, between the domestic and international terminals. The trains, which are fully wheelchair accessible and allow plenty of room for luggage, leave every six minutes from the airport and every three minutes from downtown Vancouver. Fares are C$8.75 each way, which represents a regular bus fare and a C$5 "airport travel" add-on for out-of-Richmond destinations. If you're stopped by the transit authorities carrying a ticket that does not have the surcharge, they'll fine you C$173.

Taxi stands are in front of the terminal building on domestic- and international-arrivals levels. Taxis departing from the airport use a set fare zone system. To downtown, the fee is C$31–C$37, depending on zone. Metered rates apply on trips to the airport and to areas outside of the zones. Area cab companies include Black Top & Checker Cabs and Yellow Cab.

LimoJet Gold Limousine Services and Pearl Limousine both have limo service between the airport and downtown Vancouver for about C$75 to C$95 one-way; both also offer service from the airport to Whistler for about C$300 to C$360 each way.

Taxis and Shuttles

Black Top & Checker Cabs. Vancouver, British Columbia. 604/731–1111; 800/494–1111;

LimoJet Gold Limousine Services. Vancouver, British Columbia. 604/273–1331; 800/278–8742;

Pearl Limousine. Vancouver, British Columbia. 604/732–7897; 877/977–3275;

TransLink. Vancouver, British Columbia. 604/953–3333;

Yellow Cab. Vancouver, British Columbia. 604/681–1111; .


Of the large U.S. airlines, American, Delta, Northwest, and United fly to Vancouver. Among smaller carriers, Horizon Air (an affiliate of Alaska Airlines) flies to Vancouver and Victoria from many western U.S. cities. Many international carriers fly to Vancouver, including Air Canada, Lufthansa, Quantas, and British Airways. Air Transat is a Canadian charter company that flies into Vancouver and usually offers lower rates than the other airlines.

Within Canada, regularly scheduled flights to every major city and to most smaller cities are available on Air Canada. WestJet, a regional carrier, serves most Canadian cities.

Several companies offer floatplane and small-plane service between Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, and other destinations in British Columbia. Among these are Harbour Air Seaplanes (which also encompasses Whistler Air and Saltspring Air), Kenmore Air, KD Air, Northwest Seaplanes, Orca Airways, Pacific Coastal Airlines, and Seair Seaplanes.

Additionally, the well-heeled may be interested in helicopter transfers. Among the companies operating in the Vancouver and Victoria area are Glacier Air and Helijet.

Floatplane, Helicopter, and Regional Air Contacts

Glacier Air . Squamish-Lillooet, British Columbia. 604/898–9016; 800/265–0088;

Harbour Air Seaplanes. Richmond, British Columbia. 604/274–1277; 800/665–0212;

Helijet. Richmond, British Columbia. 604/273–4688; 800/665–4354;

KD Air. British Columbia. 800/665–4244;

Kenmore Air. Kenmore, Washington. 425/486–1257; 866/435–9524;

Northwest Seaplanes. Renton, Washington. 425/277–1590; 800/690–0086;

Orca Airways. Richmond, British Columbia. 888/359–6722;

Pacific Coastal Airlines. Richmond, British Columbia. 604/273–8666; 800/663–2872;

Seair Seaplanes. Richmond, British Columbia. 604/273–8900; 800/447–3247;


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