Flying into Vancouver was very expensive from Chicago, I looked into flying into Seattle and either renting a car or taking a bus, I believe it takes about 3 hours to do this. If you book early enough you can get $99 one way fares on Southwest into Seattle . But since it was just me traveling, I bit the bullet and flew directly into Vancouver on United. The plane was full in both directions, mostly because of cruise line passengers who fly into Vancouver to start their Alaskan cruises, and I was crushed into a seat obviously made for someone no taller than 4'10", if the person in front of me had tried to recline, they would have been sitting in my lap. And exit rows seats are now going for a premium of an additional $50, not to mention the $5 charge for a snack. Well, at least they still let you watch movies for free :-)
The customs line was long but I got through that before my luggage came out. Oddly, on a day when there was a terrorism red alert in the US and serious security delays in Britian because of the shampoo terrorists, I was only asked two questions by customs, to which I gave highly suspicious answers, and passed right through.
I think the only public transport option from Vancouver is the bus although I understand a subway link is coming. I was lucky enough to get a ride from YVRDave on my way in and Robert insisted on a cab on the way back (I think he wanted to sleep longer) which was a little over $20, would be slightly more from downtown.
Vancouver is well-connected to road and railway systems. It's a 2-hour drive to Seattle and the Canadian Highway takes the traveler through the Rockies to Calgary. By air, there are many international routes. From Europe, all major carriers fly into Vancouver.
There's a Skytrain which is fast, but there's only one line at the moment. Buses will be the thing to use. They're clean, quite cheap and efficient. Inside the city, congestion is a major issue - avoid rush hour at all cost if you can!
Located just 25 minutes from downtown, YVR (Vanc. airport) is rated one of the best airports in North America.
Toronto - Vancouver - 4 hrs. 30 min.
Los Angeles - Vancouver - 2 hrs. 55 min.
London - Vancouver - 9 hrs. 45 min.
Tokyo - Vancouver - 8 hrs. 50 min.
Hong Kong - Vancouver - 11 hrs. 50 min.
New York - Vancouver - 5 hrs. 15 min.
Vancouver - Whistler - 2 hrs (120 km/75 mi)
Vancouver - Seattle - 3 hrs (235 km/145 mi)
Vancouver - Kelowna 4 hrs (400 km/250 mi)
Vancouver - Bellingham - 1.5 hrs
Vancouver - Seattle - 4 hrs
Vancouver - Jasper - 18 hrs
North Vancouver - Whistler - 2.5 hrs
Take notice in the airport of all the aboriginal art work. Apparently the government of British Columbia spent a lot of money to show off this art work and I must say it was the nicest airport I have visited to date!
An option to Vancouver's locals is Abbotsford International Airport. It is located 61km SE of Vancouver. The airport is the largest airport in the lower mainland after Vancouver International Airport, and is the only other airport to host any major airlines. To get to the airport, travel on Highway #1 to Mt. Lehman Road (Exit 83), head south. Mt. Lehman Road leads directly to the airport., and follow the directional signs to the airport entrance.
Parking options at Abbotsford Airport are quite varied. You are allowed 5 minutes for curbsite drop-off or pick-up (you may not leave the vehicle unattended). There is hourly/daily short term parking next to the YXX Terminal, which costs 75 cents per half hour up to $6 per day). The Long Term Lot is south west of the YXX Terminal offering guests better rates for long term stays, at a cost of $6 per day or $30 per week.
If you need to get to & from the Abbotsford airport, Airport Link Ltd (852-2399) services Vancouver Airport, Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley, Aldergrove, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.
The following airlines operate out of Abbotsford:
Westjet flies to Calgary and Edmonton.
Air Canada flies to Calgary and Toronto.
Airspeed Aviation flies to Victoria.
Harmony Airways and Air Transat fly seasonal routes to places such as Honolulu and Cancun.
When travelling from Vancouver by air there are other more convenient methods rather than having to make your way to Richmond for Vancouver International Airport
Saltspring air floatplanes
from Vancouver downtown to Salt Spring Is
fare approx $80 one way
Floatplane from Vancouver airport south side to:-
Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island
Telegraph Harbour, Thetis Island
Port Washington, North Pender Island
Lyall Harbour, Saturna Island
Montague Harbour, Galiano Island
Miners Bay, Mayne Island
fare approx $80 one way
Westcoast air floatplanes from either downtown or southside YVR to Victoria
fare approx $109 one way
Amigo airways floatplane YVR southside to Victoria
fare approx $49.00 each way
Pacificwings air floatplane from YVR southside to to Sechelt
fare approx $86.00 each way
Baxter Aviation float plane downtown vancouver to Nanaimo
fare approx $59.00 each way
To save money when travelling from Vancouver to the USA, take a bus which starts in Downtown Vancouver, and calls into Vancouver Ariport before heading for the border. Once across, the first airport is Bellingham WA which offers lower cost flights to Seattle or Las Vegas and the next stop is Seatac Seattle International. One way prices are approx US$22.00 to Bellingham or $42.00 to Seattle.
If you need to cross the USA then certainly get to Bellingham airport where Frontier Airlines will fly you to either Chicago (midway) or Dallas for around $160 one way up to Sept 2012 which is substantially less than flying out of Vancouver YVR
Here's a quick tip, as I was just here "passing thru". My October flight from NYC to Hong Kong stopped here on the way, and we were here for almost an hour while passengers either got on or off. I was sleeping and the brief stop woke me up briefly, but no big deal. My Oct. flight back to the US did not include a stop in Vancouver.
But, on the way to NYC (JFK) from Hong Kong during my trip in November, my plane stopped here and the new Homeland Security "law" made all the passengers wake up & "de-plane" (get off the plane). When I learned it was for a security sweep, I was fine with it, but I had planned my "sleeping hours" such that it didn't include a plan for waking up when we landed, and my itinerary didn't say anything about landing in Vancouver.
TIP: Make sure you ASK if there are any stops on the way for any flight.
Did not fly Harbour Air but they do offer frequent service from downtown Vancouver to Victoria (shore to shore service) and if you have the extra cash it would be worth the time!
*** Airline employees check your benefits, they offer good rates standby!
To get to Vancouver you may have to fly in. You will come to one of the most beautiful airports around, Vancouver International Airport. A highlight of this airport is the artwork, mostly Native Haida art, a massive Bill Reid Jade sculpture, canoe, and waterfall at international entrance of airport.