What you need to know about flying from YVR Airport over the holidays
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also a very confusing time to fly.
Either you haven’t flown since March 2020 or you have and all the rules have changed again. Regardless, travelling by air isn’t as easy as it once was.
If you’re flying out of Vancouver International Airport this holiday season, or considering it, here’s a handy guide of what you should know before you fly.
For starters, all passengers 12 years old and up need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to board a plane departing from Canada to any Canadian or international destination.
Vaccine passports necessary for flights
Now that Canadians need to prove they’re vaccinated to board a plane, many airlines are asking customers to submit their vaccine passports during online check-in.
Sometimes the process goes smoothly and you get your electronic boarding pass on your phone as usual. But sometimes the system can’t recognize your vaccine passport, so you’ll need to make a stop at the check-in counter once you arrive at the terminal.
Flying from YVR to the United States
According to the CDC, all air passengers two years of age or older boarding a flight from Canada to the United States need proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from the virus.
- You will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than one day before you travel by air into the United States
- You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight
- If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel)
Flying from YVR internationally
Each international destination has its own set of entry requirements. Passengers are required to understand and prepare for the entry requirements of their destination before leaving the Vancouver airport.
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Departure COVID-19 airport tests
A couple of different organizations offer COVID-19 tests at the Vancouver airport. Antigen tests can be picked up about one hour after giving the sample, but PCR tests usually take at least 24 hours to process. Make sure to check which type you need before leaving.
Bon Voyage Medical
- Located inside the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel
- Get PCR results in 20 minutes for $475 plus tax
Whitecap RSC Medical
- Located at YVR South
- This facility is able to provide testing approved for travel to Hawaii, but not to China
Mandatory COVID-19 tests for international arrivals
To comply with new Government of Canada rules, YVR has boosted its testing capacity. Due to the Omicron variant, all international arrivals from destinations besides the US must do a COVID-19 test at the airport and self-isolate at home until the results come back.
The arrivals testing operates from 6 am to 1 am every day, and it is located in the International Arrivals Hall. Testing is free for travellers.
YVR notes that the process will be faster if arriving passengers register in advance for their test.
All passengers must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose before entering the screening checkpoint.
The detectors at the checkpoints are sensitive to metals. Clothing with metal appliqués, belts, and jewellery will sound the alarm and result in a physical search by an agent.
Travellers are strongly recommended to check the complete list of items that are and are not permitted by CATSA.
The measures for liquids are unchanged (only containers smaller than 100 ml are allowed and must be placed in a 1 L plastic bag).
Boarding the plane
Passengers will need to temporarily remove their mask to show the gate agent their face along with their photo ID.
See Santa at the airport
YVR is also adding some holiday fun to the terminal amid all the extra pandemic travel rules.
Santa will be cruising around the terminal on December 13, 20, and 24. Guests who spot him are welcome to take a photo. Scuba Claus will also make an appearance in the international terminals on December 8, 15, and 22.