What do you do at YVR if you have a long layover or extra time to kill?  Those with any interest in aviation will find the airport observation area fun and informative.

I visited the the YVR observation area recently on a five-hour layover.  My flight to YVR arrived when the security and immigration access for flights to the US was closed.  I was forced to exit to the landside rather than going to the very nice airside Priority Pass Plaza Premium lounge that is open 24/7.

YVR has some interesting features landside that one can find by walking around.

Totem in the YVR Graham Clarke Atrium.  Investigating the story of this totem would be another interesting activity.

Exploring is preferable to subjecting oneself to the uncomfortable seating in front of the check-in counters.   A few months ago, I spent a few hours sitting there trying to sleep in these chairs.  I  nearly froze from the frigid blasts of air each time the doors opened.

The observation area is a much better use of time.  It is located above the Island Court, a food court in the center of the terminal.

Corridor to the Island Court.

The escalator at the end of the corridor leads to the observation area.20170728_161852_resized

There is tons of seating and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide great views of the airport.  There are several free telescopes mounted next to the windows to aid plane spotting.

Visitors can bring food from the Island Court and enjoy airport views while eating.

The centerpiece of the observation area is an overhead representation of YVR circled by panels explaining some aspects of airport operations and the history of the airport site.20170801_134401_resized

A great explanation about runways and how they are named.
The history of the site the airport sits on.

Other explanatory panels are located next to the windows.20170728_160034_resized


Visitors who take the time to read these panels will learn a lot.

In addition to great views, the observation area offers interactive kiosks with more neat facts about YVR and flying.20170728_161455_resized

The interactive kiosks were neat.  I tried the tail matching game.

Perfect score!

I especially liked listening to tower/aircraft communications.20170728_161141_resized

Overall Impression

I normally spend down time in airports in a lounge eating, relaxing or getting on line.  It is worthwhile sometimes to get out of the lounge and do a little exploring.  I’ve found very good observation areas or decks at several airports including Baltimore/Washington International and Amsterdam Schipol.  The observation area at Vancouver International is definitely worth a visit.