Some notes on getting from Victoria’s West Shore, by car, to Victoria International Airport, checking in and flying out.
I like to give plenty of time so there is less stress. For a small airport like Victoria, you do not need to arrive 2 hours before take off, as is recommended for the major airports. For both major Canadian airlines you can check in online starting 24 hours before, and often can select or change seats at this time. www.SeatGuru.com is a good resource for seating. If you check in online, then your #yyc (Victoria) check in is simply a matter of having your bags weighed and tagged. If you do this online check in, you can get to the airport 45 minutes before take off.
On a good day a drive to the airport takes 30 minutes. But on a heavy traffic morning, it can take more than 30 minutes just to get to MacKenzie. From about 6:45 until 8:45 is when traffic into town is the thickest.
For a 9 am departure, aim to be at the airport at 8 am. Taking all things into consideration, leave your house at 6:45 am. In a worse case you will be at the airport at 8:00 am, giving you 15 minutes to settle the car and get inside the terminal.
In the very best case, a 6:45 departure will get you to the airport at about 7:20.
Above I said ‘ …a worse case…’ because that is not -the- worst case. I have a route, given to me by a professional driver, that goes through the Highlands. When there is a Bear Mountain pick up, if he sees on the Trans Canada that it is backed up to Spencer or beyond, he doesn’t even try, but goes through the Highlands. It takes a bit longer, has the occasional animal to deal with, and at that time of the morning will be dark as it is rural and no lighting, but it beats being parked on the TC.
Long term parking at the airport is $15/day. You get a stub and pay when you leave. It is not pro-rated. Parking for 40 hours from Friday morn until Saturday evening is $30.
For airport security, check the CATSA website for the current requirements: small bottles in a bag, no water or other liquids in anything. Pack accordingly.
Once you drop off your bags it is prudent to go through the security screening shortly afterwards, in case any issue holds you up. Less stress. You will have to take off your jacket and empty your pockets. Everything gets put into boxes. Best to keep a wallet and other valuables in a jacket pocket or hand bag to keep it shielded from the eyes of others. The security people may want to inspect any laptops, cell phones, electronic devices, so I declare it right away. If they don’t want to see them, I keep them under cover too. I try not to bring anything that can arouse suspicion: a battery-powered toothbrush beside a tube of toothpaste for example.
In going through the metal detector, I try not to beep: running shoes without metal lace holes; belt with plastic buckles; no jewelry. Eyeglasses are alright. There is a good chance you will be asked to remove your shoes so they can be x-rayed separately. If you do beep, they’ll go over you with a wand, have you pull your belt away from your tummy and will scan inside. Your hands may be swabbed for signs of chemicals, so be careful with what you handle for a few days leading up to your flight. I do not know what happens in a more intense search. I have not been through that.
I keep an eye on my stuff when it is being x-rayed. If you beep and they use the wand on you, your stuff will have gone through the x-ray machine and be sitting on the other side, while other people who do not beep are going through behind you and picking up their stuff, potentially intermingled with yours. From what I read, it is not uncommon for laptops and laptop bags to disappear at a these screenings.
Getting on the plane, if possible I take advantage of being with a young child or mobility-challenged person and get on the plane and settled in first. For general loading if I can’t be in the front of the line to get on early, I wait until the end so I don’t have to stand in a slow moving line behind others.
At this #yyj airport you will probably have to walk outside and up a metal staircase to get into the plane. The route is not always well marked, so keep an eye out. The propellers should be turned off. Usually it is a good idea to bring earplugs for the noise, depending on where you are sitting, and chewing gum for the air pressure.
That should cover it. Enjoy your flight.