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'Insane security line': Travellers at Vancouver airport report missing flights, long waits for baggage

A traveller on one YVR flight said the "plane was held for me and a few other victims."
Long waits to go through security or claim baggage at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) continue to frustrate travellers, months after travel restrictions were lifted in Canada. (File)

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) continues to see some significant baggage and flight delays following several months of issues. 

B.C.'s largest airport says it has seen a drastic improvement to the long wait times air passengers faced several weeks ago but some travellers continue to experience issues. 

While many passengers report passing through security well under the recommended time — at least two hours ahead of domestic flights and at least three hours for international and transborder ones — some passengers have missed flights or came close to missing them due to sprawling security lines.  

In May, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which is the federal crown corporation responsible for all passenger security screening, said it was experiencing ongoing staffing shortages. While it made efforts to rectify the issues, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) noted that it was unclear when the situation would improve.

On Monday (Sept. 19), travellers flying out of YVR took to Twitter to express frustration about lengthy waits to clear security.

But travellers also reported long lineups on the weekend, too. 

On Sunday, Cam Boychuk shared his experience waiting to pass through security for transborder departures. According to Boychuk, the CATSA's website that shows current YVR wait times was reporting a 25 to 30-minute wait when he lined up. However, he disputed their estimate, calling on the agency to improve its operations. 

In a follow-up tweet, the frustrated traveller appeared to have finally made it through security a couple of hours after what he described as an "ordeal." He added that the plane was held for him and "a few other victims" of the "mismanagement."

On Monday at YVR, there were 190 flight delays and 12 cancellations, while Tuesday saw 134 delays and seven cancellations, according to global flight tracking service FlightAware.

Travellers face challenges getting luggage at YVR arrivals

Many travellers who are making a connection at YVR also need to pick up their baggage before they move through customs. Depending on the length of their stopover, they may not have enough time to get their bags if their flight gets in late or if their luggage is delayed. 

Over the weekend, Bruno Philipe, who flew with Air Canada, took to Twitter to ask YVR how it was possible that it was taking an hour for his luggage to appear on the carousel. 

The airport's social media team responded in a tweet, noting that baggage is actually the "responsibility of your airline" but that they could contact his airline and "give them a heads up."

Travellers seeking Air Canada flight delay compensation or baggage loss compensation can visit the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) resource. Also, new rules came into effect on Sept. 8 that require airlines to provide additional refund requirements to customers who have flights delayed by over three hours or more.

But an air passenger rights advocate told Vancouver Is Awesome that the CTA isn't acting in the passengers' interests.

YVR told V.I.A. that the airline has seen its wait times improve dramatically, although there may be some busy particularly busy times, like Monday morning when the airport was experiencing unusually long wait times. 

The federal Liberal cabinet is considering whether to renew COVID-19 vaccine mandates and mandatory random testing for travellers, a senior government official told The Canadian Press on the condition of anonymity.

The current measures are set to expire on Sept. 30.

With a file from the Canadian Press.