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Adequate time to catch flight home from Vancouver


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Our Alaskan cruise arrives in Vancouver at 7:30 AM.  There are flights we could take at 11:15 AM, 11:35 AM and 1:57 PM.  Would we likely be able to make it to one of the earlier flights, leaving sufficient time to get through customs or should we assume we will need to take the 1:57 PM flight? 

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Possibly-what day of the week, how many ships in port that day, can you self disembark with just one rolling case per person, and how will you get to the airport?  If you maximize time savings on those events, you can probably shave some time off the Princess limit of noon for your ship.
 

Other factors to consider would be whether you or your spouse will be stressed out by doing this, what your plan B would be if you are delayed, and how adaptable you are to changes on the fly.  Some people handle this well, some don’t.  Only you can decide if the cost savings or two hour time savings are worth it to you.

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If you can do early walk off the line up for immigration should not be too bad, although that's not set in stone.And if you are able to manage your luggage for a couple of blocks over to the waterfront station you can take the sky train right to the airport, which costs about $4 a person, and takes about 30 minutes and no worries about traffic. So if all goes well you should be ok for an early flight. On the other hand the later flight will be a much safer bet and the Vancouver airport is quite nice. As stated above a lot depends on what day and how many other ships are in port the day you disembark.

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After you dock, your ship must clear Canadian Customs.  I would walk off with luggage and take Sky Train as the former post suggests.  US Customs and security at the airport can back up.  I would book the later flight and not worry about any delays.  Vancouver has a great airport with free Wi-Fi so you won't be bored.

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8 hours ago, gb88 said:

Our Alaskan cruise arrives in Vancouver at 7:30 AM.  There are flights we could take at 11:15 AM, 11:35 AM and 1:57 PM.  Would we likely be able to make it to one of the earlier flights, leaving sufficient time to get through customs or should we assume we will need to take the 1:57 PM flight? 

Take the 1:57pm.

Less stress.

We always take a cab.

We find it a hassle to lug all the luggage a couple of blocks to the train.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Only take the 1:57 one! Princess I believe recommends flights departing after 12:30. You may make awesome time and sit or shop in the airport for a few hours, but the risk of the others isn’t worth it. Vancouver Airport has a multi-step process that results in many lines.

1) Check in

2) Drop off luggage

3) Security

4) US Customs

The Security line is usually very long unless you have Global Entry. 

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On 12/29/2019 at 3:58 AM, polmcs said:

Sometimes the cab line can be rather backed up, so the earlier you can get off the ship, the better. -Especially if there are other ships in port disembarking at the same time.

We walk through that lower bus level up the ramp outside and catch one in that line.

Usually moves a lot faster.

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It turns out that all of the flights in the vicinity of 1:00 PM only have flight connect times of 30 or 40 minutes, which is ridiculous!  The 1:35 PM flight with the 90 minute connect time is no longer available as a choice.  Two good things which may help us get to the airport in time to get the 11:35 AM flight (which is 4 hours after the ship has docked) - 1. We have purchased a ship transfer to the airport; 2. We both have Global Entry.  Hopefully we will be able to be in the first group of people exiting the ship.

Edited by gb88
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2 minutes ago, gb88 said:

It turns out that all of the flights in the vicinity of 1:00 PM only have flight connect times of 30 or 40 minutes, which is ridiculous!  The 1:35 PM flight with the 90 minute connect time is no longer available as a choice.  Two good things which may help us get to the airport in time to get the 11:35 AM flight (which is 4 hours after the ship has docked) - 1. We have purchased a ship transfer to the airport; 2. We both have Global Entry.  Hopefully we will be able to be in the first group of people exiting the ship.

The last thing I would do with a flight time like that would be to do the self walk off with your luggage and take a cab.  

You will wait on that transfer until it is full before it leaves. Not worth the stress.

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I expect that everyone on this ship transfer to the airport will have earlier flights to catch.  That's been my experience on other Princess cruises.  Waiting for a taxi would definitely take longer!

 

I will not take a flight with a 30-minute connect time between flights.  The other alternative is to take a 3 PM flight that would get us home at 2 AM (versus 10:30 PM) taking the 11:35 flight. 

 

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17 minutes ago, gb88 said:

I expect that everyone on this ship transfer to the airport will have earlier flights to catch.  That's been my experience on other Princess cruises.  Waiting for a taxi would definitely take longer!

 

I will not take a flight with a 30-minute connect time between flights.  The other alternative is to take a 3 PM flight that would get us home at 2 AM (versus 10:30 PM) taking the 11:35 flight. 

 

My last post did not read right. I meant the last thing I would do is take a Princess transfer.

 

I think the earlier flight will be fine but you are playing with fire taking a transfer.

IMO.......Do the first self walk off carrying your luggage and catch a cab.

We walk through the underground garage up the ramp and catch a cab out from of Canada Place terminal.

if you think those transfer coaches leave right away you would be mistaken.

Like I said they wait until they are full.

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Colo cruisers warning is sensible - cruiseline transfers in Vancouver generally will not even let you book unless your flight is 12:30pm (occasionally noon). If you think you've booked one for an 11:35am flight, you need to triple-check and get it in writing that you are actually booked on a transfer that will leave in time... chances are if you self-disembark you will just stand around for half an hour waiting for a YVR-bound bus to arrive, then sit on it for another half hour while it fills up. Personally I'd ditch the transfer even if they do let you book it, and put the saved US$58 toward either a cab (CAD$33-40) and a few beers or else treat yourselves to a limo (fixed rate CAD$64+5% tax for a towncar to YVR, though prebooking a 'meet & greet' is another $50 on top).

 

Even if it is the usual 'leave about 9am' cruise bus, since you have GE arriving 2 hours early should be more than enough even on a busy day. As long as you meet the Checked Bag cutoff (usually 1 hour) you won't have a problem with either Security or CBP, provided you remember your actual GE cards (security staff do not scan passports here, so the only way to prove GE status is by showing the card itself - otherwise no short queue for you!)

 

By booking it all through Princess they're on the hook to get you onto another flight if you do miss it of course, but then you can pretty much guarantee it'll be a red-eye or a multi-stop 'round the houses' not getting you home until next morning.

 

Lastly, 30min connections are fine in smaller US airports - remember, that you land as a domestic flight, no need to collect bags, since you have been precleared by CBP here in YVR! We've taken 36min connections before, frequently <45mins, and never had an issue. First time we did it we were definitely a bit concerned - but we've now become very laissez-faire about tight domestic connections, as they would not be offered if they were not feasible at the relevant airport.

 

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23 hours ago, Colo Cruiser said:

We walk through that lower bus level up the ramp outside and catch one in that line.

Usually moves a lot faster.

So you end up lugging your luggage almost the equivalent of halfway to the SkyTrain Station anyway 😀

Edited by frugaltravel
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19 hours ago, gb88 said:

It turns out that all of the flights in the vicinity of 1:00 PM only have flight connect times of 30 or 40 minutes, which is ridiculous!  The 1:35 PM flight with the 90 minute connect time is no longer available as a choice.  Two good things which may help us get to the airport in time to get the 11:35 AM flight (which is 4 hours after the ship has docked) - 1. We have purchased a ship transfer to the airport; 2. We both have Global Entry.  Hopefully we will be able to be in the first group of people exiting the ship.

I don't like short transfer times even if they are "legal." Even a short delay in arriving means I miss the connection.

 

But as others said, i wouldn't take a Princess transfer either. Skytrain is most reliable because it is not subject to traffic. Pre booked transfer is next best.

 

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Having Global Entry will help. Make sure you have your cards as you will need those to access the expedited security lines (they're marked with Nexus signs but GE members can use them, at least for flights to the U.S.).

 

I have successfully made an 11:08am flight using walk-off and then Skytrain to the airport and then still had 45 minutes to kill in a lounge at the airport. And on a recent trip to Whistler, was on a bus from Whistler that arrived in downtown Vancouver about 7:45am and was at the airport via Skytrain and through security and Immigration/Customs right around 9:00am to easily make a 10:00am flight. But I had nothing at risk as I'm retired airline flying standby and if I miss them, I'm no worse off than if I just tried the first "Princess legal" flight. Another time, with bags taken off by Princess, we were at the airport by Skytrain by 10:00am (but were heading to an airport area hotel so not rushing to make a flight).

 

My opinion is most days, an 11:00 flight is easily makable via Skytrain but all it takes is a delay somewhere to mess it up. 

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