Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Americas > Canada
Reload this Page >

Flying through YYC (security, connections, customs, etc) Sep 2021 onwards

Old Oct 3, 21, 10:32 am
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: Adam Smith
Background

Before COVID, flights were distributed as follows:
  • A: WestJet domestic flights
  • B: shared between WestJet, Air Canada, and others, domestic flights
  • C: Air Canada domestic flights
  • D: international flights (excluding US)
  • E: transborder (TB, i.e. to the US) flights

During the early days of COVID, the airport made the decision to consolidate operations in the eastern/southern area of the airport. The A pier was closed. WestJet flights were moved to the B pier and C pier. The segregated international area in D was eliminated.

There are many references below to piers and gate numbers. Please note that most YYC gate maps that you will find online are out of date. Many of the prominent Google results still reflect the numbering system from before the new international pier was built, and YYCs own interactive map has not been updated to reflect any of the COVID-related changes discussed in this thread, because the airport authority is useless and incompetent. For those not familiar with the airport, this is the most useful map the original author of this wiki has found.


Current Situation - Gate Allocation

Although operations are getting back towards normal, the airport authority appears to be sticking with some of its moronic decisions taken during COVID.

The A gates are in somewhat limited use, with most domestic flights going from the B, C, and D piers. Domestic flights can now depart from anywhere between A11 and D97. There appears to be little in the way of logic as to where each airline is operating at any time.

International flights still depart exclusively from D gates.

Transborder flights continue to depart exclusively from the E gates. However, gates 84 and higher are no longer used exclusively for transborder flights. Those gates may be used for domestic, international, or US flights.

Construction is under way on the ramp between the B and C piers, limiting use of certain gates.


Gate Allocation & Layout - Impact on Passengers

YYC is an extremely poorly designed airport, especially the new international wing that was opened several years ago, and is not a great airport to fly through at the best of times. However, many design flaws are compounded by the current situation.

The current dispersal of flights around the airport frequently requires long walks. Approximate distances from the C security checkpoint to:
  • D70 (base of D pier) 300m
  • D76 (south end of D pier) 500m
  • D80 500m
  • D97 (east end of D pier) 800m
  • WS lounge (base of B pier) 150m
  • B39 (end of B pier) 350m
  • A20 (end of A pier) 600m

There are moving walkways that cover part of the distance from the base of the C pier to the bases of the B and D piers, and from the base of the B pier to the base of the A pier, but a fair amount of walking is still required as the walkways only cover a portion of the distance, and there are no moving walkways within the piers themselves.

There are several elevation changes that may be unpleasant for those with mobility issues, including an uphill ramp moving from the C pier to the D pier (just before gate 70), and a long uphill ramp (about 2 stories of vertical movement) moving from the area around gates 80-83 to 84+ (obviously these ramps are downhill in the opposing directions). Many of the ramps around YYC lack customary handrails and flat rest areas as the airport was/is exempt from building codes.


LINK Shuttle

Unlike most major airports that have some sort of train system to shuttle passengers around the airport, YYC relies on oversized golf carts, which the airport authority refers to as the LINK shuttle (some in the AC forum derogatorily refer to these as "meep meeps" since they look like something out of a cartoon).

Also note that the shuttle only runs to the start of the D pier, before gate 70. Therefore up to ~500m of walking could be required to reach one's gate.


Current Situation - Check-In

AC and WS domestic check-in are at their usual locations at C and A respectively.

Flair and Air North are at door 8 (next to AC, between B and C).

Flights to the US (all airlines) - check-in desks in usual locations at E.

International flights are at the D area, including AC and WS

Current Situation - Security

Hours for checkpoints can be found here.

Priority security:
  • A checkpoint: ???
  • B checkpoint: 1 line for NEXUS + families
  • C, D, and E checkpoints: 1 line for NEXUS, 1 line for families + airline priority (business class, status, etc)

At YYC, there are no fully dedicated priority lanes. The priority lanes simply get one to the front of the line quicker. Canada does not have US PreCheck-style expedited screening.

Those looking to avoid body scanners may wish to use the B checkpoint, where there are none.


Connections

As a result of the issues described above, connecting through YYC can be a nightmare at the moment. Some domestic connections require moving from a gate at the end of the A pier to the east end of the D pier, e.g. A20 to D95, which involves around 1.5 km of distance. Many connections will require lengthy walks. Please plan accordingly.

Sterile transit (i.e. International to International, or ITI, connections without clearing Canadian immigration/customs) is not available, since there is no longer a segregated international departures area. It is unknown when, if ever, this will return.

ITD OSS, a.k.a. One-Stop Security, which allows passengers to connect from an international flight to a domestic one, is available. Passengers should be eligible if they are coming from the US or Europe. From Mexico or the Caribbean, its less clear. Arriving on AC, flights from CUN, PVR, SJD, and ZIH should be eligible. On WS or other airlines, its uncertain.


When Will Things Get Better?

Probably never, given the incompetence of the airport authority.

Except for the 6 ground boarding gates (A1-A6) in the A pier that were previously used only by WestJet Encore/Link, all other gates in the A pier appear to be in use, but only in a limited fashion. Despite the A gates in use, there doesn't actually appear to be any immediate desire to eliminate the use of the D gates for domestic flights. On November 1, 2021, the useless airport authority actually published a video highlighting the use of the D gates for domestic flights, and modifications to the international terminal to create a specific exit pathway for domestic passengers back to the A, B, C gates, among other changes.

Lounges

The following lounges exist at YYC. You should consult your airline for further details on access, but a rough summary follows:
  • Accessible to customers on domestic or international flights:
    • Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge: base of C pier
    • WestJet Elevation lounge: base of B pier
    • Aspire (formerly international) lounge: D gates, entrance near D80
  • Accessible to customers on transborder flights ONLY:
    • Aspire TB lounge: E gates, do a 180 after coming out of duty-free

Customers connecting from a domestic flight to a transborder one are physically able to access one of the domestic/international lounges, but beware that getting to your flight requires re-clearing security and going through US customs. TB passengers originating at YYC may be able to access the domestic/international area before their flight, but are at the whim of CATSA. Before COVID, this was generally not a problem, but since COVID, CATSA may have adopted a different policy. YMMV.
Print Wikipost

Flying through YYC (security, connections, customs, etc) Sep 2021 onwards

Old Sep 13, 21, 3:57 pm
  #1  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, DL PM, WS Silver, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium, Hilton/Radisson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 14,938
Flying through YYC (security, connections, customs, etc) Sep 2021 onwards

YYC (the airport, not the whole city) is currently a mess due to a combination of COVID measures and airport construction. We have seen numerous questions in the AC forum about the current situation, and a fair amount of information has been posted in one of the COVID threads on what it's currently like to fly out of/through/in to YYC at the moment, but since this information could potentially be beneficial to those flying other airlines as well as those flying AC, @tcook052 and I decided we should start a thread in this forum dedicated to current experiences at YYC.

This thread will attempt to be a repository for information on the current situation and how it impacts flights, both O/D YYC as well as connections.

I've thrown a whole bunch of info, compiled from my recent YYC experiences plus some info from other FTers, into a wiki. Additional info/improvements are requested and encouraged, and please feel free to post questions and experiences in the thread.

Last edited by Adam Smith; Sep 13, 21 at 4:25 pm Reason: Clarification
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Sep 20, 21, 12:57 pm
  #2  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, DL PM, WS Silver, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium, Hilton/Radisson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 14,938
Hours at B security were significantly expanded somewhere between the 8th and yesterday. Wiki updated.
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Sep 30, 21, 7:00 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: YMJ (YQR)
Programs: Qantas Platinum, WestJet Gold
Posts: 234
Calgary Airport D/E Pier Domestic

Calgary Airport basically closed the A pier as part of its COVID slowdown strategy. Regular WestJet passengers through the airport will recall that A used to be the airline's primary domestic pier, so its closure has caused a significant change to WestJet's operations. In general, it seems as though YYC has spread domestic flights fairly evenly amongst piers B, C, and D/E, with a sprinkling of A when necessary.

I flew through YYC today and my flights were at gates 88 and 90. Given that these gates are typically E (US pre-clearance) gates, I was interested to see how the airport managed access for domestic passengers and maintained segregation for US and international passengers.

Basically, the traditionally US-only wing of the terminal (88-97, with swing access to 84-87) is now domestic-only. There's a strategic corridor between the main D concourse and this part of the E concourse that has been manually opened to provide access. US departures are limited to gates that can be accessed directly from the main E concourse, with barriers preventing access to the large, main ramp that connects the main concourse with gates 88-97.

Additionally, the main D concourse, and its retail, is open to all domestic and international travellers. The usual corridor for domestic-D concourse connections is fixed open to provide uninhibited access, without any checks. I assume the international-only checks are occuring closer to the relevant gates - has anyone flown out to a non-US international destination and can advise?

All in all, this is a boon for domestic travellers, with flights departing from the nicer concourse, with better shops and dining. That said, it can be a hike from the B gates and the Elevation Lounge. Has anyone tried to access the Aspire Lounge in a domestic itinerary?
V1213 is offline  
Old Sep 30, 21, 11:50 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: The World
Posts: 1,282
Every time Ive had a D gate domestic departure, it reminds me of how painfully stupid and awkward the link between the Main and International terminals is at YYC. Its a big design fail for an otherwise pretty nice new terminal.

The seating at the swing gates is a crowded, random mess, and its all jammed in around the golf cart track, a single retail store, and some food outlet that looks like its from a 70s-era bus station. And to get between the two terminals, you have to walk along a wall thats adjacent to that mess its a corridor only because its the only open space.

I havent tried the D gates Aspire since that area went domestic, but the WestJet Elevation lounge is actually pretty well positioned for all A through D concourse gates. Ive walked from the lounge to domestic flights at the D gates its maybe 10 - 12 minutes. If you hop on the big golf cart shuttle, it shaves a few minutes off.
YYC3722 likes this.
FlyerJ is offline  
Old Oct 2, 21, 7:24 pm
  #5  
Hyatt Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Victoria, B.C.
Programs: Hyatt Globalist, AA Gold LT
Posts: 1,847
I just don't understand the Calgary airport.

FIrst off, why did they put in the pre-clearance?? WHY?? Pre-clearance is a waste of money and in my opinion a stupid option as it segments an airport and its facilities and is always a bigger hassle then clearing customs in the USA.

Second the golf cart?? The huge lane takes away valuable walking space and makes it harder to walk between terminals. Just get rid of that stupid golf cart.

I get that the airport is only running at 60%ish capacity because of Covid and lack of demand of passengers but it still feels crowded and awkward. I had an hour fifteen minute connection and I barely had 10 minutes in the lounge as it took me 20 minutes to walk to my gate and another 20 to walk back to my next gate Maybe its just me being cranky but I don't like the blocked off D and E areas combined with construction in A and the lack of airport maps. Even the YYC airport website doesn't have the proper airport maps.
smilee is offline  
Old Oct 2, 21, 8:39 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: YVR
Programs: WS Plat., AS Gold, Winner "Misanthropes to Watch" (1984)
Posts: 868
Originally Posted by smilee View Post

Second the golf cart?? The huge lane takes away valuable walking space and makes it harder to walk between terminals. Just get rid of that stupid golf cart.
Testify!
Frequentlander is offline  
Old Oct 2, 21, 11:02 pm
  #7  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,591
Best part as an Employee/Crew since the golf cart has returned after initial COVID shutdown: under NO circumstances are crew or employees allowed to ride it. EVEN IF there are empty seats. Sorry, aircraft aren't going anywhere without crew, ground agents and ground crew or Maintenance Engineers. Further idiotic management from YYC.

Of course if there are mobility impaired travelers they should take priority, but literally not permitted at all costs. You're welcome YYC for staffing the very few flights you had going during the height of the crisis - during those grim, dark days keeping some movement going.
Fisch is offline  
Old Oct 3, 21, 12:28 am
  #8  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, DL PM, WS Silver, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium, Hilton/Radisson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 14,938
Originally Posted by V1213 View Post
Additionally, the main D concourse, and its retail, is open to all domestic and international travellers. The usual corridor for domestic-D concourse connections is fixed open to provide uninhibited access, without any checks. I assume the international-only checks are occuring closer to the relevant gates - has anyone flown out to a non-US international destination and can advise?
There are no "international-only checks". If your international flight goes out of D76, you walk up to D76, give them your BP and ID, and board the plane. Doesn't matter whether there's a domestic flight next door at D78.

All in all, this is a boon for domestic travellers, with flights departing from the nicer concourse, with better shops and dining. That said, it can be a hike from the B gates and the Elevation Lounge.
I couldn't disagree more. It is an absolute cluster. Ridiculously long walks are now normal. The constant elevation changes can be a nightmare for those with mobility issues. It has made a bad airport far worse.

Has anyone tried to access the Aspire Lounge in a domestic itinerary?
I haven't, but it shouldn't matter, as long as you have access.

Originally Posted by smilee View Post
I just don't understand the Calgary airport.

FIrst off, why did they put in the pre-clearance?? WHY?? Pre-clearance is a waste of money and in my opinion a stupid option as it segments an airport and its facilities and is always a bigger hassle then clearing customs in the USA.
Most travellers consider pre-clearance to be an excellent service. Wait times at Canadian pre-clearance locations are often far below those at US airports, and they make onward connections a breeze - no need to worry about getting stuck in a 2-hour customs line when you're trying to fly YYC-SLC-MSY, for instance. I can't imagine how you think it's a bigger hassle to clear customs in Canada than in the US.

As for segmenting an airport, it's not at all hard to manage. Every major Canadian airport does it. Even with the current debacle at YYC, that's really not causing any issues. The problems are caused by the terrible design of the airport in general, the construction on the apron around the C gates, and COVID-related shutdowns (A gates, meep meeps) decided by YYC management.

Last edited by Adam Smith; Nov 2, 21 at 1:17 am Reason: Corrected typo
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Oct 3, 21, 11:27 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: OGG, YYC
Programs: AA, AC
Posts: 3,678
Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
I couldn't disagree more. It is an absolute cluster. Ridiculously long walks are now normal. The constant elevation changes can be a nightmare for those with mobility issues. It has made a bad airport far worse.
Having just done a domestic departure from one of the D gates, I have to agree wholeheartedly with you and disagree with the comment to which you responded. The hike from the MLL is ridiculous. The YYC experience seems to just keep getting worse.

Originally Posted by smilee View Post
I just don't understand the Calgary airport.

FIrst off, why did they put in the pre-clearance?? WHY?? Pre-clearance is a waste of money and in my opinion a stupid option as it segments an airport and its facilities and is always a bigger hassle then clearing customs in the USA.
"WHY??" Seriously?
A key reason for pre-clearance is to allow operation of flights to US airports without CBP. Do you think flights to such destinations should be eliminated? That, for example, would eliminate every airport in Hawaii with the exception of Honolulu.
SunkissedMommy likes this.

Last edited by tcook052; Oct 3, 21 at 7:58 pm Reason: merge separate posts
After Burner is offline  
Old Oct 3, 21, 12:44 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: miami, florida
Posts: 3,662
Originally Posted by smilee View Post
I just don't understand the Calgary airport.

FIrst off, why did they put in the pre-clearance?? WHY?? Pre-clearance is a waste of money and in my opinion a stupid option as it segments an airport and its facilities and is always a bigger hassle then clearing customs in the USA.

Second the golf cart?? The huge lane takes away valuable walking space and makes it harder to walk between terminals. Just get rid of that stupid golf cart.

I get that the airport is only running at 60%ish capacity because of Covid and lack of demand of passengers but it still feels crowded and awkward. I had an hour fifteen minute connection and I barely had 10 minutes in the lounge as it took me 20 minutes to walk to my gate and another 20 to walk back to my next gate Maybe its just me being cranky but I don't like the blocked off D and E areas combined with construction in A and the lack of airport maps. Even the YYC airport website doesn't have the proper airport maps.
Preclearance is a gift. This way you are treated like a domestic U.S. flight for baggage collection and onward connections. Some U.S. airport lines can be 2-3 hours if you arrive at the same time as a crowded flight from Europe or Asia. A major disadvantage of Porter and Billy Bishop is no preclearance.
SunkissedMommy likes this.
sydneyracquelle is online now  
Old Oct 3, 21, 1:36 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 361
Are there reasons why the gates in the A pier are not in full use yet? I see that with the limited use of A gates, not only is WestJet using them exclusively, Flair and AC are also using them. Why not just have WS be the sole operator of the A pier like in 2019?

Flair, AC, Transat can probably share the B/C gates even with part of the C gates closed.

Also noteworthy to point out that YYC saw over 950K passengers in August and might be able to become Canada's 2nd busiest airport this year.

Anyone know what the airport plans to do with the space of the former Chinook Lounge (A pier)? Is WS going to build another lounge there?
On Time Reports is offline  
Old Oct 3, 21, 6:15 pm
  #12  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, DL PM, WS Silver, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium, Hilton/Radisson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 14,938
Originally Posted by On Time Reports View Post
Are there reasons why the gates in the A pier are not in full use yet?
I've heard from folks at AC that it's lack of airport staffing (i.e. the airport authority rather than the airlines). Take that for whatever you think it's worth.

I see that with the limited use of A gates, not only is WestJet using them exclusively, Flair and AC are also using them. Why not just have WS be the sole operator of the A pier like in 2019?
The fact they're using any A gates at all makes me question the whole staffing excuse for why they can't be operated. It's not like they're only using A24; there are sometimes flights way out at A15 and A20. If they're operating flights from the far end of the pier, presumably they have to keep most of it maintained, clean, etc... So why not use the whole thing?

But remember that the people who run YYC have repeatedly demonstrated their vast incompetence for many years and it's not so surprising

Flair, AC, Transat can probably share the B/C gates even with part of the C gates closed.
TS is running like 2 flights a week to YYC these days, so they really don't matter. Just send them to whatever are the least desirable gates to WS/AC. Flair's doing half a dozen or so per day. They maybe need access to two gates at peak time? But if the A pier fully reopened, I think Flair could probably just use B and the C pier could return to being completely AC, with B handling AC and spillover from WS. Given there are still quite a few fewer flights every day, it's really shocking how spread out across the terminal they are.

Last edited by Adam Smith; Oct 4, 21 at 1:04 am Reason: Clarification
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Nov 2, 21, 12:38 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 361
Updated the wiki to reflect ramp construction by the C pier being completed, all C gates in use, more A gates in use, A security appears to be open now but don't know about hours, and other details.
On Time Reports is offline  
Old Nov 2, 21, 1:39 am
  #14  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, DL PM, WS Silver, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium, Hilton/Radisson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 14,938
Originally Posted by On Time Reports View Post
Updated the wiki to reflect ramp construction by the C pier being completed, all C gates in use, more A gates in use, A security appears to be open now but don't know about hours, and other details.
Thanks for the update. The construction on the ramp at C seemed to be finished as of about 2 weeks ago, but I wanted to get a bit better look at everything before posting an update. Unfortunately, I've been unexpectedly grounded since then.

I can't believe A is fully back in use. There's simply no need to use the 80/90 gates for domestic flights if it is.

As for touting the recent changes as positive, as usual, the idiots running the airport authority are, well, idiots. Items 2-4 on their list wouldn't be necessary if they didn't seem committed to this stupid setup of spreading domestic flights across the entire frigging airport. If it stays this way, not only will it be a never-ending nightmare to get around the place, it will be the end of sterile ITI connections, which only hurts everyone who uses the airport by reducing its attractiveness as a connection point.

This is how I see the discussions playing out in the airport authority offices:

YYC3722 and KDS777 like this.
Adam Smith is offline  
Old Nov 8, 21, 7:10 pm
  #15  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, DL PM, WS Silver, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium, Hilton/Radisson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 14,938
I've updated the wiki with the latest hours for the security checkpoints. No changes except to add A, which is only open for a few hours in the morning.

Very few flights in and out of the A gates during the hours I was there, although one of the aircraft over there was an AC DH4

An AC concierge told me they're using the ex-E gates (now labelled as D84 and higher) and the A gates quite a bit less than before, but still fairly regularly, which is unfortunate.

I've also re-written parts of the wiki to eliminate some outdated info and clarify a few things.
Adam Smith is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread