If you’re departing from Vancouver on your flight Downunder, you’ll avoid the hecticity of busy LAX and find yourself in an airport designed to introduce the natural beauty and history of British Columbia to visitors. Air Canada flies non-stop from Vancouver to Sydney with a connecting flight to Auckland; Air New Zealand flies non-stop to Auckland, with connecting flights there to Australia and other cities in New Zealand.
Take advantage of your time in the airport before your long flight and explore some of its shops, restaurants and activities. Here’s what you need to know about traveling through Vancouver Airport and making your time there just that little bit more enjoyable…
Vancouver Airport has one main building, with the international terminal in the north and domestic to the south. Gates are not just numbered, but given letters. Sections A, B and C are located in the domestic terminal and Sections D and E are for international. The terminal is split down the north-south line with the eastern side for flights going into or out of the USA, and the western for all other international flights. Check-in for international flights occurs on level 2 of the building, with gates and retail on level 3.
All of the terminals are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The suggested allowance for customs and security checks, processing and unexpected delays before an international flight is three hours – if you’re not flying into Vancouver on a connecting flight. Information displays for arrivals and departures are located throughout the terminal concourses.
Vancouver Airport offers Ambassadors, known by their lime green vests. They can provide help and directions if you need them. They roam the airport from 6am to 10pm each day. There are also customer service kiosks in both the US-border and Canada-border sides of the terminal. Or you can call 604 207 7077 for assistance, 24 hours a day. Vancouver Airport can also email or text you about changes or updates to your flight; just visit their website and follow the prompts at the ‘flight notifications’ page.
Vancouver Airport is renovating the domestic terminal, but there are no major refurbishments ongoing at the international one.
Free luggage trolleys are available throughout the airport, and if you need to pick up your baggage to transfer to a flight, you will find claim areas after going through the Canada Border Services area. Check with your airline to find out more about baggage claim for transfers.
If you’re transferring to your international flight, the Vancouver Airport website has a handy ‘passenger guide’ function: just pop in your destination, the country you came from, and your airline… and out comes precise steps on what to do and where to go in the airport (including information for getting your baggage if you’re not already checked-in for your next flight). Fortunately, Air Canada has also done the work for you if you’re traveling with them: visit their website and download their instructions for getting to your next flight. (Air New Zealand does not have similar instructions.)
The simplest way to transfer to your next flight is to walk from your gate toward International Connections – follow the signs – and go through to Canada Border Services. From there, make your way to your next gate on level 3. It couldn’t be easier to find!
If you plan to spend a night or more in Vancouver before heading off on your flight Downunder, the “Canada Line” SkyTrain stops at both the domestic and international terminals and will get you into the city with minimum hassle. With varying schedules – from operating every 6-7 minutes during peak day times to once every 20 minutes late at night – the train will get you into the city in less than 30 minutes. More information can be found on the TransLink website.
If instead you’ll be heading directly onto your international flight after arriving in Vancouver, click here for our guide to what’s inside the airport to help you pass the time.