Vancouver International Airport from above

Vancouver International Airport, or “YVR” (its international aeronautical designation) was Canada’s first privatized airport. In 1996, a new $350 million International Terminal was opened, and shortly thereafter, the domestic terminal was upgraded. The airport is a showcase for Vancouver as the gateway between North America and the Pacific. YVR welcomes 80,000 passengers to Vancouver each day, and handles over 11 million passengers a year.

The airport includes giant totems carved by local native artists. The International Terminal is home to a $3 million Bill Reid sculpture, “The Spirit of Haida Gwai” (The Jade Canoe). Dining and shopping here is entertaining. A replica “Cheers” bar is here, with actual talking “Norm” and “Cliff” automatons at the bar.

The terminal’s practical features speed passenger connectivity. The CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment) system opens up extra wickets at busy flight times. Travelers are whisked along on elevated moving walkways past glass walls with a view of Vancouver ‘s sea and mountain panorama. The building has intelligent escalators that run at full speed only when people step onto them, saving power. Cruise ship passengers’ bags (to destinations as far as Alaska and Mexico) are electronically routed direct to their staterooms onboard ship. Travelers with a $50 CanPass card can check themselves right through customs in a non-stop express lane.

If you need to transfer to Sea-Tac Airport (in Seattle), Quick Shuttle (604-940-4428, 1-800-665-2122) offers service to and from Vancouver. Pick up for the trip from Sea-Tac is outside Door 26 on the Baggage Claim (lower) level.