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I have a flight at 6:05 am on a Monday from YVR to SFO in December.

As far as I understand, I need to be at YVR at least at 4:05 am. Assume I don't want to take taxis and also assume I will be staying somewhere in downtown. According to Google Maps, there are some night buses, e.g. N10 from Northbound Seymour St @ W Georgia St that can take me to YVR by 3:47 am, which I need to take at 3:09 am. But this seems to be the last bus; and if something happens to it, the only public transportation option I will have after 3:09 am is Canada Line at 4:47 am. Alternatively, I can take Canada Line to YVR at 1:06 am from Vancouver City Centre and be at YVR by 1:31 am. The difference is just 2 hours.

  • Is my assumption that I need to be at YVR at 4:05 correct?

  • Am I correct in saying that the above two options are basically the only ones? (Except that I can take Canada Line earlier than 1:06 am and that I can take N10 earlier than 3:09 am.)

  • I assume it makes no sense to arrive at YVR earlier (say at 11 pm on the previous day), is that right? People aren't usually allowed to spend night on the airside, but the landside should be ok, right?

  • There are hotels with a 24-hour airport shuttle. – Weather Vane Oct 16 at 19:38
  • How early to arrive at an airport always involves some personal preference and judgment. I suppose you're aware that you will have to preclear US immigration and customs at YVR, and including that extra time in your estimate? – Nate Eldredge Oct 16 at 19:39
  • @WeatherVane Thanks for the tip. But if I choose the second option, I may not need a hotel for that night at all. – user77409 Oct 16 at 19:41
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    @user77409: No, you clear it at YVR only. You'll arrive at SFO like a domestic flight and have no immigration formalities after landing. More about preclearance. According to this it seems that preclearance at YVR opens at 4:30am. – Nate Eldredge Oct 16 at 19:45
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    It looks from the terminal map like you clear security, then preclearance, and then you're airside. I wouldn't guess that the security opens before 4:30 either, though I don't know. However, it's quite possible that a line forms before 4:30, and you may want to try to be closer to the front of it. And of course you also want to include a margin of safety. – Nate Eldredge Oct 16 at 20:57
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Is my assumption that I need to be at YVR at 4:05 correct?

Yes, it is always recommended to arrive 2 hours before your flight.

Am I correct in saying that the above two options are basically the only ones? (Except that I can take Canada Line earlier than 1:06 am and that I can take N10 earlier than 3:09 am.)

Yes, that is correct. In my opinion, the bus should be fine. Worst case scenario you can get a taxi. There are some hotels that offer 24-hour shuttles though.

I assume it makes no sense to arrive at YVR earlier (say at 11 pm on the previous day), is that right? People aren't usually allowed to spend night on the airside, but the landside should be ok, right?

You're right. It doesn't make sense to arrive that early. Vancouver airport, the Internaitonal airport is open 24 hours and you can sleep there. There is a sleeping guide here.

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