Checking-In at the Vancouver Airport

So you just finished your visit to the beautiful city of Vancouver, and now it’s time to pack up and head home. The toughest part, figuring out the labyrinth of networks and procedures that is the Vancouver International Airport. Never fear, we have prepared a quick and dirty online guide to help you manage the process.

How to Get to YVR Airport

Simple. Take the train. Now I know this may not sit well with you non-transit lovers, but in Vancouver it really is the easiest. most affordable, and of course… “greenest” option. Find your nearest station. Even from the Waterfront Station, the journey wont take more than 30 minutes, and the Canada Line drops off right next the the check-in area of the airport. Plus, by taking an extra car off the road, we help support pollution control in this beautiful city.

Traveler’s Tip: Riding the train from the Airport to Vancouver City Centre is half the price of taking the train from the City Centre back to the Airport.  Rates do change, so make sure to check; but luckily the machines take credit card, so you don’t need exact change.

Check-In Times

Each country has their own standards for check-in time. Here is Canada’s:

Travel Recommended
check-in time*
drop-off deadline**
Boarding gate
Within Canada 60 minutes 30 minutes 20 minutes
To/From the US 90 minutes 60 minutes 20 minutes
(including Mexico and Caribbean)
120 minutes 60 minutes 30 minutes
Tel-Aviv 180 minutes 75 minutes 60 minutes

Check-In Online

This seems simply right? Wrong. I can’t tell you how many people I see at the Vancouver Airport who either didn’t check-in online, or didn’t even bring their booking confirmation. This not only slows down the line, but makes everyone just that much more frustrated with their travel experience. In Canada, most airlines do offer some form of online check-in. Your flight confirmation email will describe how to do it.

illustration with people at the airport

Prepare Your Carry-On Properly

Don’t want to get hassled by the Border Guards? Then make sure you have everything ready so that you can pass through security as quick as possible. As of writing this, liquid is still a no-no, and all make-up and lotions need to be packed in a zip-lock bag. Have all your electronics ready to be removed from their cases, and remove metal from your body. This includes things like belt buckles, and even some heavy weight jewelery. And please, whatever you do, don’t make bomb jokes. I have seen it happen, it doesn’t end well.

Traveler’s Tip: If you happen to forget your zip-lock, the security staff will provide one for you.

There is Food on the Other Side

Running a bit late at your check-in? No worries, you can grab a quick bite on the other side of security. There is everything from fast-food, to full out restaurants. While there aren’t as many options on the boarding side of the gates, there is enough to satisfy even the most discrimination palette.

Traveler’s Tip: Eat something before you board the flight. There are a variety of reasons why a flight may be delayed, especially in the Canadian winter. A full stomach will calm your mind, and help you relax while you wait for the plane to take-off.