Who Loves YVR? (Officially, the best airport in North America)

Earlier this spring, while we were all distracted with Royal Wedding fever and playoff hockey, a very special honour was quietly bestowed on our own hometown airport.   At the prestigious (and little known) World Airport Awards in Copenhagen, Vancouver International Airport (YVR, to us regulars) took home the prize for North America’s best airport.

Award organizers collected 11 million questionnaires from travelers around the world.  More than 240 airports were ranked on 39 different criteria, including accessibility, public transportation options, cleanliness, comfort, friendliness of staff, clarity of signage and other amenities.

And when the smoke cleared, YVR was North America’s best.

Now, if you’ve done any amount of flying, you probably know that the award is well deserved.  YVR might not be the biggest or glitziest airport out there.  But it does stand out for a lot of reasons.

First and foremost, it’s always spotlessly clean and pleasant-smelling.  This might not seem like such a big deal at first.  But if you’ve flown out of Newark International or even LAX, you start to appreciate these things.

Then, there’s the artwork, in particular the First Nations collection.  In fact, budget travelers might consider skipping UBC’s Museum of Anthropology altogether and just spending a few hours wandering the airport.  There are towering, elaborately carved totem polls outside and inside – not to mention the piece de resistance, Bill Reid’s massive Jade Canoe sculpture in the departures area.

And let’s not forget transit access.  Since the CanadaLine opened in 2009, getting to and from YVR has been a breeze . . . almost a delight.  The trains are brand new, always run on time, are cheap and get you downtown almost as fast as a taxi would.

Now, if we’re going to split hairs, one area where YVR could turn things up a notch is restaurant options.  I’ve got nothing against Tim Horton’s or Orange Julius, but I do think some travelers are looking for a bigger range of sit-down choices.  A YVR Cactus Club?  Some decent sushi?  Just a thought . . . .

Any other fans of YVR out there?  Please share your thoughts below.



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6 Responses to Who Loves YVR? (Officially, the best airport in North America)

  1. Gardener

    I agree – YVR is the nicest airport I have ever travelled to/from. I particulalry love the indoors waterfall by the escalators at international arrivals. After a long haul flight, it’s always a delight to go past it and feel its refreshing mist, whispering ‘welcome to Vancouver’!

    A supberb airport which, for any 1st time visitor, is a great introduction to a superb city.

    However on one point you are misguided: there is a Milestone there – allthough it’s airside so only those flying out can use it. But yes, the airport in general could do with a few more interesting shops and eating/drinking options.

  2. Chocodum

    WOOT! Congratz!!!

  3. David Williams

    Another reader is correct in that there is a Milestones airside.

    There are two food courts where the public can eat and the only reasonably decent places are White Spot on the domestic side and two restaurants one of which is Japanese and the other questionable.

    When one considers that not only people in air travel status frequent the Airport and that includes a lot of people who take the very accessible Sky Train anywhere from Coquitlam to Surrey and Richmond.

    They come into the Airport to spend a little time, maybe have a meal and go home. A safe pleasant way to spend an evening.

    YVR should move the Golf Shop and the Brooks Brothers shop out and instead allow some decent eateries like Earls or The Boathouse to set up and create some fun times in YVR.

  4. We just flew in to YVR last week for the very first time. I spent 10 days in Vancouver and then left on Sunday. I didn’t know this award had been given, but I had made the comment already to my husband that this was the best airport EVER. (Um, yeah, LAX … ?) And I have to also just say that Vancouver was the friendliest, easiest-to-navigate and most beautiful large city we’ve ever visited. It was a pleasure to be there & we look forward to going back.

    • Thanks, Laraine. Everyone’s been very enthusiastic about the YVR blog post – I guess they’re doing something right at the airport!

  5. Frost

    love YVR.. customs are friendly, smiling people only thing that could be better is a direct flight to ATL.