Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the second busiest airport in Canada, connecting Vancouverites and transit passengers to major cities across Canada, the United States, and around the world.
Location and Transportation
Vancouver International Airport is located 30 minutes south of Downtown Vancouver on Sea Island at 3211 Grant McConachie Way in Richmond, British Columbia.
While the airport technically isn’t located in Vancouver proper, it serves as the primary airport for both Vancouver and much of the Lower Mainland.
The Canada Line SkyTrain is one of the quickest and most convenient options for ground transportation. The SkyTrain has direct services to and from the airport that connect to the city’s metro network, and a trip from the airport to Waterfront Station takes just half an hour.
It’s accessible from both the international and domestic terminals by way of a walkway with direct access to the airport.
The only bus with a direct route to the airport is the N10 night bus, which only provides service in the middle of the night.
Taxis servicing Vancouver International Airport have set rates depending on the zone you’re travelling to, while taxis travelling to the airport use a standard meter system. You can find taxis located at the exits of the domestic and international arrivals areas.
Courtesy shuttles can be reserved for transportation to and from nearby hotels. Pick-up and drop-off areas are in the domestic and international terminals on Level 3 (Arrivals).
Ride sharing is accessible at the airport as well. The Ride App is a service provided by the YVR airport using authorized providers such as Lyft, Uber and KABU. There are three pick-up areas:
- International Arrivals, Level 2
- Domestic Arrivals, Level 2
- South Terminal
Car rentals are located on the ground floor of the parkade at YVR, just steps outside the terminal. It takes approximately 20 minutes to reach downtown by car without traffic, or around 45 minutes (or longer) during rush hour.
Car rental companies available at YVR include:
- Dollar Thrifty
- Enterprise Rent-a-Car
You can also find several car rental companies with off-site locations, which are as follows:
- Routes Car Rental
- ALIGO Rent a Car
- West Coast Car Rental
For those looking to travel outside of Vancouver, the YVR Whistler Skylynx bus service departs from the airport and makes stops in Downtown Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, and other surrounding areas. There’s also the option to choose an express service that goes straight to Whistler.
Prices begin at $50 (CAD) for a one-way trip from Vancouver to Whistler, and go up to $115 (CAD) for a non-stop round-trip booking on an Express bus.
There are two terminals at Vancouver International Airport: the Main Terminal and the South Terminal. Most major airlines depart from the Main Terminal, while the South Terminal is typically for smaller, regional airlines and private flights.
A free shuttle service is available between the South Terminal and Main Terminal. It departs every half hour, and its schedule may be found on the YVR website.
The South Terminal provides services mostly within British Columbia. Airlines operating from the terminal include Pacific Coastal Airlines, Harbour Air and floatplanes.
The Main Terminal, also known as Terminal M, is divided into two separate sections for domestic and international flights. The transborder departure for flights to the United States area is located near the international departures area.
There are four levels at Vancouver International Airport.
Level 1 is home to the services plaza, where you can find restaurants, shops, & services. Some examples of these include a 7/11 and a GD Liquor store, which are located just down from the baggage carousels in the domestic arrivals area.
Level 2 handles domestic and international arrivals. Baggage carousels are located on this level.
Level 3 is the main level for domestic and international departures.
Lastly, Level 4 is a bridgeway from which you can access the Canada Line SkyTrain. You can access the level by way of stairs, an escalator, or an elevator located at the midway point between the domestic and international departures area.
The domestic terminal is further subdivided into Concourses A, B and C, and the international terminal has Concourses D and E.
In the domestic terminal, WestJet Encore flights depart from Concourse A, and Air North, Air Transat, Flair Airlines, Lynx Air, and WestJet depart from Concourse B. Concourse A is essentially an extension of Concourse B.
Air Canada and Air Canada Express depart from Concourse C.
In the international terminal, international flights depart from Concourse D.
Lastly, flights to the United States depart from Concourse E.
Airlines and Destinations
Over 50 airlines fly to and from Vancouver International Airport’s main terminal. From Vancouver, you can take direct flights to destinations across North America, Europe, Asia, India, and Oceania.
Interestingly, the airport offers more direct flights to China than any airport in North America or Europe, with Hong Kong-bound departures being the most frequent.
The following airlines fly in and out of Vancouver International Airport:
- Air Canada
- Air Canada Jazz
- Air Canada Rouge
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Air Transat
- Eva Airways
- Singapore Airlines (until October 2023)
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
- Air France
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- China Southern Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Korean Air
- Xiamen Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Horizon Air
- Japan Airlines
- Air North
- Capital Airlines
- Cascadia Air
- Central Mountain Air (South Terminal)
- Edelweiss Air
- Flair Airlines
- Hainan Airlines
- Harbour Air
- Helijet Airways
- Iskwew Air
- Lynx Air
- Pacific Coastal Airlines (South Terminal)
- Philippine Airlines
- Purolator Courier
- Seair Seaplanes
- Sichuan Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
- Tofino Air
Lounges are ideal for those with a bit extra time before boarding their flight. Many offer comfortable seating, complimentary snacks and refreshments, and Wi-Fi. Depending on the lounge, the amenities range from basic to luxurious.
Seven lounges are scattered throughout the main terminal at Vancouver International Airport.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges
There are three Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in Vancouver International Airport.
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver (Domestic) in the domestic departures area is located between gates C29 and C30. Its hours of operation are 4:30am–12:15am on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and from 4:30am–11pm on Tuesday and Sunday.
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver (Transborder) in the transborder (US) departures area is located between gates E84 and E86. It’s open daily from 6:15am–8pm.
The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver (International) in the international departures area is located just after security by gate D52. Its hours of operation are 7:30am–12:30am from Monday–Wednesday, 6:15am–12:30am on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and from 7am–10:30pm on Friday.
Plaza Premium Lounges
There are four Plaza Premium Lounges in Vancouver International Airport. These lounges are accessible for a fee or through eligible credit cards with their program partner DragonPass.
There are two lounges located in the domestic departures area, one in the transborder (US) departures area, and one located in the international departures area.
The Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic, Pier C) is located near gate C29 just after security. It’s open daily from 6:45am–8:30pm.
The Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic) is located near gate B15. Its hours of operation are 5am–10pm daily.
The Plaza Premium Lounge (Transborder) is located across from gate E88. It’s open daily from 5am–8pm.
The Plaza Premium Lounge (International) is located close to the Maple Leaf Lounge just after the international security screening area. It’s open from 8:30am–12:30am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 5:30am–12:30am on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and from 7am–12:30am on Sunday.
There is currently only one other lounge at Vancouver International Airport.
The SkyTeam Lounge is located in the international departures area of Concourse D near gate 53. It’s open from 7:30am–11:30pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7:30am–1am on Monday, and from 7:30am–2:30pm and 5:30pm–11:30pm on Wednesday.
Prior to the pandemic, the Cathay Pacific Lounge Vancouver was also operational in the international departures area; however, it has yet to reopen. It is located near gate D71.
At the Vancouver International Airport, Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders have access to the following priority services:
- FasTrack Lane at international, domestic, and US departures checkpoints
- Dedicated taxi lines at the international and domestic arrivals areas
- Twelve premium parking spots, reserved exclusively for holders near the terminal entrance
Further priority services are often available for those who purchase premium tickets, are status-holders, or hold certain credit cards. Priority services are unique to each airline, but typically include the following:
- Priority check-in counters
- Priority security clearance
- Priority boarding
- Priority baggage handling
- Lounge access
If you don’t have a NEXUS card, airline status, or a premium cabin ticket, you can take advantage of a service to speed up your journey through security in the domestic and transborder (US) departure areas: YVR Express.
With YVR Express, you can pre-book a timeslot to go through security in the domestic or transborder (US) departures area. The process is simple, and it could wind up saving you a good chunk of time.
A summary of the location and hours of operation is as follows:
Checkpoints A, B, and C
You can reserve an appointment as far as 72 hours in advance of your flight. You’ll be able to book an appointment to go through security between three hours and 30 minutes and one hour and 15 minutes prior to your flight’s departure, so be sure to take advantage of the service if you’re departing from the domestic or transborder areas of Vancouver International Airport.
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport is the only hotel located directly inside the Vancouver Airport. It can be found directly above the US departures terminal.
For what it’s worth, this hotel has been voted the best airport hotel in North America.
Furthermore, the following hotels located near the airport offer free shuttle services to and from the airport:
- Westin Wall Centre Hotel Vancouver Airport
- Radisson Hotel Airport Vancouver
- Executive Airport Plaza Hotel
- Ramada Vancouver Airport Hotel
- Sheraton Hotel Vancouver Airport
- Hampton Inn Vancouver Airport
- Hilton Hotel Vancouver Airport
- Marriott Hotel Vancouver Airport
- Four Points by Sheraton Hotel Airport Vancouver
- Travelodge Airport Vancouver
- Accent Inn Vancouver Airport
For those passing through Vancouver International Airport from the US or another country, you’ll need to go through passport control upon arrival. Passengers connecting to US flights will undergo security screening and US customs before proceeding to their next gate.
If you arrive at the airport before 6:30pm and are travelling with Air Canada, you can head to the Canada Connections counter to recheck your baggage and pass through security. For all other flights, you must claim your baggage, head to the check-in level, and check in again as per usual.
Vancouver International Airport is one of eight airports in Canada with a US border pre-clearance facility. Operational hours are from 4:30am–8:30pm daily, so it’s best to check with the airline prior to boarding a flight departing between these hours.
US preclearance is completed using the self-service automated passport control kiosks. There are designated kiosks for NEXUS and Global Entry members.
If you don’t have a NEXUS card, you can still speed up your time in the pre-clearance facility by using Mobile Passport Control.
With Mobile Passport Control, passengers can submit information prior to their arrival at the airport and have access to a separate line after security, which ultimately expedites their entry into the country.