Vancouver International Airport
The Vancouver International Airport is not located in the city limits. It is actually located on an island in a suburb of Vancouver. The airport is approximately seven miles from the Vancouver city center. The airport’s current passenger load is over 17 million people. This airport has received numerous awards from a variety of airport rating organizations. It is consistently voted one of the best airports in the world.
History of Vancouver Airport
The Vancouver International Airport began in 1930 with the construction of a small runway along with a terminal and administration building. Later in the 1930s, a control tower was built.
During World War II, the airport was operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force. The airport also served as a military aircraft manufacturing center.
The first major expansion of Vancouver International took place in 1968. At this time, a new multi-million dollar terminal building was completed. Later, the airport built facilities to accommodate floatplanes and private aircraft.
Another terminal was built in 1996. A new control tower was also built at this time.
Terminals & Airport Operations
Currently, there are three operational terminals at Vancouver International. The Domestic Terminal is used for flights within Canada. The International Terminal serves flights outside of Canada including those to the United States. The South Terminal is used for floatplanes and charters.
There are three runways in use at the airport. The longest runway is 11,500 feet in length while the shortest runway is 7,300 feet in length. There are also three helipads in use at the airport.
The Vancouver International Airport is noted for its architecture and art work. Each of the terminals is designed to reflect the culture of the British Columbia area. There are several major art pieces spread out across the airport’s facilities. One interesting piece of art is called, “Raven House Posts” located at the doorway of the Domestic Terminal on Level 3.
There are several amenities for passenger use at Vancouver International. The Airport Cleaners is located on Level 4 of the Domestic Terminal. There is also a luggage repair center at this location.
There is a business services center called CDS Ltd. Baggage Services located on Level 2 of both the International and the Domestic Terminals. Here, travelers will find computers, fax machines, and copiers. Baggage storage is also available.
Each terminal is served by a Plaza Premium Lounge. These lounges are available to any passenger regardless of the airline they are flying. There is an entry fee. Once inside, passengers will find televisions, Internet access and a variety of food and beverage options.
There is access to medical and dental services at the airport. The Vancouver Airport Dental Clinic and the Vancouver Airport Medical Clinic are both located in the Domestic Terminal on Level 1.
A small chapel is available for prayer at the International Terminal on Level 2. Chaplains are available upon request.
The Economy Lot offers short and long-term parking. There is a Long-Term Lot for parking stays of over one hour. Gateway Valet offers a curbside valet parking service. Shuttles are available to transport passengers to and from the lots and the terminals.
Airlines Serving Vancouver Airport
Air Canada uses Vancouver International Airport as a hub for its operations, and it is the most prominent commercial air carrier at the airport. The airline operates from three different terminal areas at the airport. Air Canada flights that originate from the airport’s Domestic Terminal reach destinations within Canada such as Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Winnipeg. The airline also offers flights to the domestic destinations of Kelowna and Whitehorse on a seasonal basis.
Passengers who travel internationally with Air Canada board their flights from the International Terminal at Vancouver’s Airport. The airline offers non-stop flights to destinations like Beijing, London, Mexico City, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo on a year-round basis. Seasonally, Air Canada offers flights to San José del Cabo from the International Terminal.
Air Canada flights that travel to the United States depart from Vancouver’s Transborder Terminal. Year-round destinations include Honolulu, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco. Seasonal Transborder destinations include Anchorage and San Diego.
Jazz Air operates a number of flights from Vancouver International Airport through the Air Canada Express program. Domestic destinations served by Jazz Air include Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Kamloops, Prince George, Regina, Smithers, and Whitehorse. Seasonally, passengers can use Jazz Air’s Air Canada Express service to reach Calgary. Jazz Air also offers non-stop service to Portland and Seattle/Tacoma through the Transborder Terminal.
Quebec-based Air Transat also uses Vancouver International Airport as a hub. The airline only offers international flights from the airport, with its route to London-Gatwick airport being the sole flight offered on a year-round basis. Seasonally, passengers can use Air Transat to reach cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Manchester, Paris and Puerto Vallarta. Since Air Transat only provides international service from Vancouver, all of its flights originate from the airport’s International Terminal.
WestJet is one of the more popular carriers at Vancouver International Airport. The airline offers service to a number of domestic and international destinations. Flights that depart from the Domestic Terminal reach cities such as Calgary, Montréal, Prince George, and Winnipeg. WestJet’s international destinations include Puerto Vallarta and San José del Cabo. From the Transborder Terminal, passengers can take WestJet flights to cities including Honolulu, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Francisco.
Seair Seaplanes is one of the few airlines to use the South Terminal at Vancouver International airport. Interestingly, the airline offers most of its flights on float planes that land on the water. Passengers can reach a number of regional destinations using Seair Seaplanes including Ganges Harbour, Miners Bay, Port Washington, and Bedwell Harbour.