Harbour Air Seaplanes

Day in the Life of a New Seaplane Traveller

Day in the Life of a New Seaplane Traveller

You know that feeling where you try something new and you wonder where that something had been all your life?

That was me when it came to seaplanes. I saw them taking off and landing all the time but I never stopped to think of who actually was flying in them. Certainly not me, I had no reason to use them.

But then I started I thinking about visiting Vancouver Island at some point this spring. And oh wait, I also have a potential client who lives in Victoria. And my significant other has been bugging me about a winter escape weekend; maybe we could head to Comox and go skiing at Mount Washington.

When it comes to business travel, visiting family or just getting out of the city, seaplane travel is a movement (get it?) that’s really looking up (haha! Ok I’ll stop now) in Vancouver and all over the world.

However, there’s one significant difference between seaplane travel and travelling via a large airliner: it’s simply not the norm for most people.

Large commercial flights are normal; everyone’s flown on gigantic airplanes so people know what to expect: Long lines, heavy-handed security and impersonal service that leaves you wishing for the return of the days when flying was fun.

The good news is that seaplane travel is different; It’s fast, it’s efficient and it’s actually fun.

Interested in hopping on board a seaplane for your next trip? Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Get to the Terminal

When you take a ferry to Vancouver Island you can drive aboard or take a bus to the terminals at Horseshoe Bay or Tsawassen. Those buses load in downtown Vancouver.

Now, Harbour Air’s most popular seaplane terminal is in downtown Vancouver. So if you wanted to leave your vehicle at home, you can walk to the seaplane terminal from the Waterfront train station and skip the whole car or bus situation (saving gas, parking and traffic). Waterfront station is the central hub for every train in the city:

• Canada Line
• Expo Line
• Millennium Line
• West Coast Express

You can even take the Seabus from North Vancouver and be chilling in the seaplane terminal in 15 minutes.

It’s easy to park as well if you do have a vehicle. There are pay parking spots at Harbour Air’s downtown terminal and free parking at the South Vancouver terminal.

Step 2: Relax

Once you check in (25 minutes before your flight is scheduled to leave), you can relax, have a free coffee, read thenewspaper or even rehearse a proposal speech.

The truth is that no matter how you’re travelling - by seaplane, on a commercial flight from the airport or via the ferry the more comfortable you, the passenger, are before the trip, the more likely you are to use that method of transportation again.

Smart transportation companies know that keeping passengers comfortable before, during and after their flight is the key to making their guests happy.

Get people where they’re going safely and on time, and have fun while you’re doing it. It’s pretty simple, right?

Step 3: Board the Seaplane!

The first time I boarded a seaplane I felt like an international spy. Especially since I was disguised to look absolutely nothing like an international spy (get it?).

Anyways, here’s what boarding looks like:

• Your flight is called and you follow an employee outside to the seaplane dock
• You hand your luggage to a friendly pilot (which is stored onboard or in the plane’s pontoons - smaller bags can be brought on board)
• You climb aboard and choose a seat

Here, read more about seaplanes!

Step 4: Relax Again

Once you’re on board, sit back and enjoy the view. Many seaplanes feel roomier than large jets thanks to the wide panoramic windows. Seaplane cabins are comfortable, well-maintained and are consistently updated with modern conveniences and equipment.

Seaplanes are sophisticated machines that offer a one-of-a-kind experience. Whether you’re travelling a half hour to Victoria, 20 minutes to Nanaimo or 50 minutes to Comox, it’s an easy and simple way to travel.

Step 5: Hop off the Plane & Get Goin'

That’s it!

Your plane will land softly in the water, your pilot will most likely tell a (subjectively) hilarious joke, you’ll gather your luggage and you’re off. No baggage claim and no lineups, you’re on your way to a productive trip. And if it’s only a day-trip, then worry not, the seaplane will be there waiting for you when you’re done.


Seaplane travel is fun. For many Vancouverites (Vancouverians?), whether born here or transplanted from other cities and towns across the country or the continent, travelling on a seaplane is a way of life on the west coast and makes quick work of getting around the lower mainland, the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island & the Gulf Islands.

Seaplane travel is quick, easy and relatively inexpensive (more on that next week).

There’s something special about travelling from the sea to the sky. From the surface of the water to the tip of the clouds, seaplane travel is on the rise for smart travellers in British Columbia.

So, how are you getting there this spring?