Vancouver International Airport offers travel tips as holiday flight traffic returns

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Holiday travellers are being warned to expect added delays and hassle as the emergence of the Omicron variant is triggering a fresh round of testing requirements and international restrictions. Aaron McArthur reports. – Dec 13, 2021

As flight traffic takes an upward turn during the holidays, staff at the Vancouver International Airport are sharing tips to make pandemic travel a little smoother.

According to vice-president Robyn McVicker, about 30,000 passengers passed through YVR every day in October and November.

That’s nearly half a million each month — up from about 300,000 passengers total in November 2020.

The numbers are expected to increase to 40,000 daily in December, McVicker said, so travellers should prepare for a “busier” experience.

Read more: Omicron COVID-19 variant outlook for Canada has feds ‘very concerned,’ Trudeau says

At a joint news conference on Monday, the Canada Border Services Agency warned that arrival and customs procedures for returning residents could take longer than usual.

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The federal government is randomly selecting fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada from destinations other than the United States to take a COVID-19 test. Those travellers must quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

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First, YVR recommends ensuring that travel documents, including passports, are updated and valid.

All passengers should carry proof of double vaccination with either provincial or federal certification that’s easily accessible.

Those travelling internationally must download the ArriveCAN app, and fill out all mandatory vaccination, travel, quarantine and pre-departure testing information 72 hours before their return.

YVR is also advising that the U.S. now requires all air travellers leaving Canada to have valid pre-departure test results in hand — rapid or PCR — before entry.

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Read more: Travelling into or out of Vancouver’s airport? What you need to know about COVID-19 testing

On-arrival COVID-19 testing is available at YVR for international travellers returning to Canada, McVicker said, but that’s in addition to the federal government’s pre-departure testing requirement.

That rule requires travellers entering Canada to provide a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken 72 hours before landing in Canada, if they have been outside the country for more than 72 hours.

Travellers who want free on-arrival testing can register in advance to speed up the process, McVicker added.

“We’re asking everybody to be patient,” she said. “There are a number of different rules and regulations that are involved as you come into Canada, but it all makes sense. We’ve got people here to help you.”

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There are other ways residents can streamline their airport experience, she added.

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That includes arriving 90 minutes before domestic flights, two hours before U.S.-bound flights, and three hours before other international flights.

Any gifts being transported should also be unwrapped, the CBSA noted.

Ticket-holders can also check in online and book airport parking in advance of their flight.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Dec. 14, 2021 to include information about wrapped gifts requested by the CBSA.

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