Vancouver International Airport lies around 14km south of Downtown Vancouver. It's a world-leading airport, ranked best airport in North America for five years in a row, and in the top 10 in the world in 2013 and 2014 in the Skytrax World Airport Awards. It is known for its excellence in accessibility and sustainability and for its efficiency, good dining options, plentiful seating and natural light. That said, some travellers have reported delays in receiving baggage, and long waits in customs at peak times.
It has two terminals:
The Main Terminal has four floors and is easily walkable (although distances can be long):
Useful for those flying on to the US, the airport has US Border Preclearance facilities so you can clear security in Canada, and save time when you land in the US.
The easiest and most cost-effective way into Vancouver is by train, taking you downtown straight from your terminal.
The Canada Line of TransLink's driverless rapid transit SkyTrain takes you to downtown Vancouver in 26 minutes and downtown Richmond in 18 minutes. It runs to Waterfront station, via Vancouver City Centre station, every 6-7 minutes at peak times, and 12-20 minutes at off-peak times, from Mon-Sun, 05:02-00:47.
If you're coming back to the airport, when you get off the train turn left for domestic flights and right for US and international flights.
Tip: You can avoid paying the 'AddFare' by buying Faresaver tickets at (books of 10 reduced-rate fares) 7-Eleven or Pharmacare in the airport (you can't buy them at the vending machines)
Cost: CAD 4 for a two-zone ticket, plus a CAD 5 'Canada Line YVR AddFare' when leaving the airport
Buying tickets: Vending machines in the station (cash or card)
Location: YVR-Airport Station, Main Terminal, Level 4 (follow the Canada Line signs from both International and Domestic Terminals)
As of 2014, taxis taking you into Vancouver have to offer a fixed rate. Journey time is around 20-30 minutes.
Cost: CAD 31-35 flat-rate to downtown (plus tip)
Location: Ranks outside Domestic and International Terminals, Arrivals, Level 2
Arriving late at night?
You'll need to take the night bus after the trains have stopped running. From the Main Terminal, take the N10 to downtown Vancouver or Richmond.
If you have a late flight beware that most food places after security close at 22:00.
The airport has a large, 114,000-litre aquarium showcasing 850 indigenous sea animals. This is a great place to take the kids and kill a bit of time whilst you wait for your flight.
Location: International Terminal, Departures Level
There are six comfortable lounges for you to relax and work in before your flight:
Plaza Premium Lounges (airside)
These are available for all passengers, and cost USD 32 for 2hrs, USD 40 for 3hrs, USD 56 for 6hrs:
Air Canada Maple Leaf Clubs (airside)
These cost USD 50 to access:
YVR Distinguished Visitor's Lounge (landside)
If you’ve got some extra time and would like to burn off a little steam, you can get a day pass to the Fairmont Hotel’s gym, pool, sauna, and showers for CAD 18 per person. The Health Club is situated directly above the US departures terminal and the health club is open daily from 06:30 to 23:00.
You can also book day-use rooms from CAD 119 (4 hours).
There are over 100 charging stations throughout the terminals, located between the seats at the gates. Each station offers six 120V outlets and two USB ports.
The Absolute Spa, is a perfect place to freshen up. Access is CAD 15 plus taxes, including access to the pool, healthclub (workout facilities) and showers.
Main Terminal, before security, lobby level
US Terminal, after security, near Gate E85
Hours: 08:30-21:00 daily
Car rental companies offer cars right beside the terminals buildings, on the ground floor of the car parking area. You can rent from these companies:
In addition, Enterprise offers cars a short distance from the airport. To ask for a shuttle bus, use the direct-dial phone in the car rental bus shelter in the Economy Parking Lot.
There are several Children’s Play Areas located throughout the airport, which are a great place to let kids run around or watch interactive videos to learn about airplanes. The Play Areas are located in Concourse A near Gate 13, Concourse C near Gate 46, and Concourse D near Gate 54, right next to the TV Entertainment Centres (international gates only).
You can also take yourself on a self-guided walking tour with the family (details can be found on the airport's website. The tours follow a number of different themes to help you discover art and architecture, family fun, or sustainability.
There are no public showers, but you can freshen up here:
This is a great place to meet your friends or watch the activity on the tarmac at the airport's observation area. There are telescopes, interactive kiosks and an interactive model of Sea Island.
Location: Domestic Terminal, Level 4 (Landside)
Prices for up to 24 hours vary from CAD 5.50 for small items such as coats and envelopes to CAD 9.90 for oversized items such as large trunks or sports equipment.
International arrivals, landside, level 2, opposite Hudson news
Hours: 05:00-1:00 daily
Chester Johnson Park is a great outdoor space which offers a calm respite from the action of the airport.
Nestled in the shadow of the Control Tower, the park features the three ‘Ksan Totems, carved by Earl Muldoe and Walter Harris from the Skeena River Valley in Northwestern British Columbia.
In the park you’ll also find a small pond, benches, and a tree-lined pathway to explore with the kids.
Great candy shop. Indulge in confectionery classics or modern creations. Canadian specialties as well as bulk candy.
Domestic terminal, after security, near Gate B17
Hours: 05:30-22:00 daily
The store features a wide selection of artwork from B.C.’s First Nations people. The interior of Vancouver International Airport is inspired by British Columbia’s natural beauty and includes art reflecting its First Nations heritage.
International terminal, before security, level 3
Hours: 09:00-20:00 daily
for access to departure times, security waiting times, Airport Wi-Fis, lounge access and more Vancouver International Airport