In a setting framed by mountains and ocean, it’s not hard to see why visitors rave about Vancouver. And in an era when so many travellers regard flying as drudgery, even Vancouver Airport shines.
YVR is actually located on Sea Island in the bedroom community of Richmond, south of Vancouver. Gaining a reputation for its public engagement, art, environmental initiatives and passenger-pleasing experience, the airport welcomes some 18 million passengers a year, making it number 2 in Canada (after Toronto’s Pearson).
Sixty-eight airlines fly here from 120 destinations around the world, looked after by approximately 24,000 employees plus 500 members of the airport’s Green Coat Volunteers who can assist passengers in 28 languages.
Obviously hosting the 2010 Olympics gave officials a great impetus to initiate improvements, but YVR continues to be innovative on a number of fronts, including:
● Technology – this was the first airport to pioneer kiosk technology to check and clear the US border with such success that that YVR is now selling kiosks to airports across North America.
● Public art – the airport is home to the largest collection of Northwest Coast Native art including massive Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe (that was pictured on the old $20 bill). The airport even has its own art curator who works with, among others, young artists of First Nations descent who receive scholarships and whose work is displayed.
● Nature indoors – YVR has partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium and Level 3 of the International Level features an aquarium with over five thousand creatures including eels, perch, and sea stars (star fish). The airport is also home to a massive Green Wall featuring almost 30,000 individual plants and is “a giant living tapestry”.
● Shopping and services. As well as North America’s first World Duty Free Store – ringing up sales of over $100 million last year – YVR has such innovative tenants as a 7-Eleven and a medical and dental clinic.
Another feature which makes YVR such a hit with its passengers is access to downtown. In just 26 minutes you can be whisked via a rapid transit link – the first airport/downtown service in the country – into the city. Take that, Pearson.
And if you find flying stressful? The Vancouver Aquarium has a second installation on Level 4 of the International Terminal. It has a dozen jellyfish which are mesmerizing in their languid and graceful movements. Stress be gone!