Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the gateway to Canada from around the Pacific Rim. Regularly scheduled service to and from Vancouver is offered by major airlines throughout the world. Victoria may be the capital of British Columbia, but it falls a distant second when it comes to international flights; the only destinations served from its international airport are major Canadian cities and Seattle. Calgary and Edmonton have international airports served by major airlines from throughout the world.
Many flights from the south are routed through Vancouver or Calgary before continuing to Edmonton, giving you a choice of final destinations for little or no price difference. Getting to Yellowknife or Whitehorse generally requires a plane change in Vancouver, Calgary, or Edmonton. Flights to these northern destinations, as well as smaller centers throughout the region, are usually made by local airlines that have code-share agreements with Air Canada, so you should have no trouble booking flights and making connections to even the most out-of-the-way place.
Canada’s national carrier is Air Canada (514/393-3333 or 888/247-2262, www.aircanada.ca). It offers direct flights to Vancouver from the following North American cities: Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, and Washington, D.C. Air Canada also offers direct flights to Calgary from all major Canadian cities, as well as from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Dallas/Fort Worth, New York, and Orlando. Direct flights to Edmonton originate in all major Canadian cities west of Montreal, while flights from the U.S. cities noted above are routed through Vancouver or Calgary.
From Europe, Air Canada flies directly from London and Frankfurt to Calgary and Vancouver, and from other major European cities via Toronto. From the South Pacific, Air Canada operates flights from Sydney and, in alliance with Air New Zealand, from Auckland directly to Vancouver. Asian cities served by direct Air Canada flights to Vancouver include Beijing, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo. Air Canada’s flights originating in the South American cities of Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Lima, and Bogotá are routed through Toronto, where you’ll need to change planes for your western destination.
Similar in concept to Southwest Airlines, WestJet (604/606-5525 or 800/538-5696, www.westjet.com) has daily flights to and from the following Canadian cities: Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and as far east as St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Air Canada offers most flights into western Canada from the United States, but Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton are also served by the following U.S. carriers: Alaska Airlines (800/252-7522, www.alaksaair.com) from Anchorage and Los Angeles; American Airlines (800/433-7300, www.aa.com) from Chicago and Dallas; Continental Airlines (800/231-0856, www.continental.com) from its Houston hub and New York (Newark); Delta (800/221-1212, www.delta.com) with summer-only flights from Atlanta and Salt Lake City; Frontier Airlines (800/432-1359, www.frontierairlines.com) from Denver; Harmony Airways (866/868-6789, www.harmonyairways.com) from Honolulu, Kahului, and Los Angeles; Horizon Air (800/547-9308, www.horizonair.com) from Seattle; Northwest Airlines (800/225-2525, www.nwa.com) from Detroit, Memphis, and Minneapolis; and finally, United Airlines (800/241-6522, www.united.com) from Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Other International Airlines
British Airlines (800/247-9297, www.britishairlines.com) flies daily between London and Vancouver. KLM (604/278-3485, www.klm.nl) flies nonstop to Calgary and Vancouver from Amsterdam, and Lufthansa (800/563-5954, www.lufthansa.de) from Frankfurt.
Qantas (800/227-4500, www.qantas.com.au) flies from Sydney to Vancouver, while flights originating in Melbourne and Brisbane are routed through Los Angeles. Air New Zealand (800/663-5494, www.airnewzealand.com) operates in alliance with Air Canada, with a change of airline in Honolulu or Los Angeles. This airline makes stops throughout the South Pacific, including Nandi (Fiji). Air Pacific (800/227-4446, www.airpacific.com) flies from points throughout the Pacific to Honolulu and then on to Vancouver.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition