Something I haven’t thought much about over the past few years is security screening at Vancouver International Airport.

No flights for me and my big dogs. Our travel adventures were road trips in my trusty car.

The last time I caught a flight out of the Vancouver International Airport was in 2010, heading to the states and pre-clearing US Customs at YVR.

One thing I remembered was everyone had to take off their shoes and coats, and put them inside a bin to go through the x-ray screening. Carry on luggage also went through the x-ray machine.

Things have changed since 2010!

Line up for security

First up, a long march from the Air Canada check in and baggage drop. I followed the signs to the boarding gates which eventually brought me to the security screening area for international flights.

There’s a security guard checking boarding passes. If you have one, you are allowed to get in the line. Overall the line wasn’t too long when I arrived, late Saturday afternoon, just a few minutes.

The next hurdle is a security team member who checks my boarding pass and types it into the computer.

I noticed just about everyone except me had their passports out, but I was not asked to show it. Security only wanted to see my boarding pass and make sure I was on a flight departing in the next few hours. And I suppose, update Air Canada that I’d made it that far.

X-Ray woes

There was another short line to reach the area where passengers put their carry on luggage inside plastic bins to go through the x-ray machine. While I was waiting in line, I carefully watched the process so I’d be ready when it was my turn. A conveyor belt transports empty bins on the bottom side of the counter. The passenger leans down, picks up a bin, puts it on the countertop, and offloads their stuff. A security guard on the other side of the counter will then take the bin and push it down the conveyor towards the x-ray machine.

I knew ahead of time that I had to remove my laptop computer from my carry on backpack. I thought my backpack and laptop would fit nicely inside one bin.

But, oh, no.

The security guard on the other side tells me my laptop can’t touch anything. I’ll need another tray for it.

But what’s the next hurdle? My power cord is plugged into the laptop. That can’t be touching either, states Drillmaster Sergeant Security Guard. I pulled the plug out. Apparently the cable can ride in the same tub, but no touchies!

X-Ray woes part 2: disrobing

Then the Drillmaster tells me I have to take off my vest and Tilley hat and put them inside another tray.

It is with glee that after I’ve removed my vest that the Drillmaster notices I’m wearing a fanny pack.

You guessed it. Into the bin!

While I’m messing around with the Drillmaster and increasing my collection of x-ray bins, I notice the passengers around me are all wearing shoes.

Whew! That’s one less thing to deal with. I guess sometime over the past few years passengers no longer have to remove shoes to be x-rayed.

Oops. Not so fast there. A security guard from the metal detector leaves her station and approaches me while I’m removing my hat and vest. She tells me I have to take off my footwear and send them through the x-ray machine too.


I was wearing cowgirl boots. Maybe that had something to do with being singled out.

You never know what might be hiding in those suckers!

It took 4 tubs to hold all my stuff.

I walk through the metal detector in my socks. All is good. I head to the conveyor belt to pick up my backpack and put my clothes back on.


Too big!

It did not happen to me, and I wasn’t paying much attention because I was too busy disrobing, but somewhere ahead of me I overheard a security guard telling someone their carry on was too big.

That has gotta suck.

There were a lot of international flights departing Vancouver that day, so I have no idea which airline this passenger was on.

I was flying Air Canada. Passengers, at least on international flights, are allowed one carry on and one personal item. In addition a passenger can also carry a coat. There are size restrictions. The carry on has to fit in the overhead bin, and the personal item has to fit in the space beneath the seat in front. Click here for more information on Air Canada carry on baggage.

I have no idea how big the carry on was that was being rejected by security. Big enough that security probably turned them back and told them to check it. Maybe it was too big to fit through the x-ray machine.

Carry on bag size checker

While sitting in the boarding area, Air Canada did make a few announcements saying they anticipated there would be too many carry ons coming aboard the plane. They asked for volunteers to check their carry on luggage, at no charge. Normally a second piece of luggage costs $100. That would explain why many passengers try to cram as much as they can into their carry on luggage.

After checking in at Air Canada’s boarding gate, there is a rack thing that some passengers were asked to check the size of their carry on luggage in before proceeding on to the plane.

Fortunately, I wasn’t asked, but my backpack didn’t look oversized.

Security Screening at Vancouver Airport

Overall, I made it through the security screening at Vancouver International Airport relatively quickly.

But what have I learned that is good information for others to know?

Your laptop can’t touch anything else in the bin and you may be asked to remove more pieces of clothing than you expected.

Ha ha!

Happy travels!

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on July 26, 2023.

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