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Photos: This handy tool shows how long you'll wait in lines at Vancouver International Airport

Know before you go (but still go early)

Have you waited in an extremely long line wait at an airport recently? 

While it typically takes some time to get through security, recent waits at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) have sparked outrage among travellers. 

YVR is urging travellers to arrive early at the airport, advising them to allow two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international. But numerous travellers say they recently missed flights or came close to missing them despite arriving hours in advance of their departure time. 

Numerous locals have shared their experiences on social media, with many of them advising other travellers to arrive more than three hours prior to an international flight. Some of these individuals missed their flights or came close to missing them after arriving hours before their departure time. 

But what if you give yourself a four- or five-hour window before your flight and you breeze through security?

YVR has admitted that wait times are longer than average, — and many travellers can attest to this — but many people say they passed through all the security checkpoints in roughly 20 minutes or less. 

"Breeze through security!" Mobile App

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which is the federal crown corporation responsible for all passenger security screening, is experiencing ongoing staffing shortages. That said, there are times when the airport is less busy and you can anticipate shorter waits. 

If you want to get an idea of how long you'll be waiting in advance of your flight, CATSA has a "Breeze through security" Mobile App. 

Photo via The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority 

You can find information to make it easier to get through airport security screening:

  • Check the wait times at security screening checkpoints in major Canadian airports.
  • Search the “What Can I Bring?” list to find out if an item is allowed in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage.
  • Find advice for families, passengers with special needs and seniors to help them get through airport security screening quickly and easily.
  • Create a travel checklist to help pack a carry-on bag or a checked bag. It includes security restrictions on various items (e.g. liquids, food, personal items, sporting equipment, tools).
  • Provide feedback about your experience at security screening.

The app is easy to download and navigate and is available on Apple and Android devices. 

On May 5 just before noon, the app gives the following wait times at YVR. They are very short, however, CATSA and YVR would still advise you to visit the airport at least two hours before a domestic departure and three hours before an international one. 

Photo via The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority 

Your carry-on baggage and bins will go through the X-ray machine so that a screening officer can examine their contents. Sometimes carry-on bags require an additional search if screening officers see items that aren’t permitted. 

If you are not sure what items are allowed in a carry-on, check CATSA's What Can I Bring? list before you pack.