Calgary

New YYC international terminal cleared for takeoff Oct. 31

Calgary's massive $1.6-billion new international terminal will open Oct. 31. YYC says technological and design innovations should mean less stress for air travellers.

Airport authority says innovations will move travellers through facility faster

The new YYC international terminal is set to open Oct. 31. 1:02


The new international terminal at YYC will open early in the morning on Oct. 31.

Airport geeks will gush about all that natural light, the broad sweep of the roof, the public art and the views.

Frequent fliers will simply want to know how the new facility will improve their travel experience. YYC officials say the improvements will be impossible to ignore.

1. Security

In a North American first, Mathieu Larocque with CATSA says they've installed six highly-automated screening machines at security to help lines move faster. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

The lineups and the time it takes to get through the security checkpoint is the the bane of every traveller's experience. You'll still have to do it.

But the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) says the process in Calgary's new terminal should be less of an ordeal.

In a North American first, Mathieu Larocque with CATSA says they've installed six highly-automated screening machines at security.

"It combines a bunch of innovations that were tested separately over the years at different airports into one high-performing line," said Larocque.

A conveyor belt provides a supply of those grey plastic bins you put your carry-on bag, laptop or coat into.

Four of those bins can be loaded at the same time so while that guy in front of you unbuckles his belt, you can just push your bin onto the conveyor and head to the metal detectors.

After you grab your bag, the conveyor takes empty bins back to the front of the line.

If you're prepared enough to get through the metal detector without any beeps, you'll be out of here much quicker.

It also means if you're travelling with kids or have any special needs that typically slow down a security line, anxious travellers won't give you "the glare" while you deal with your particular issues in this checkpoint.

2. Customs

Automatic scanners will mean travellers no longer have to fill out a customs form for American flights. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

At YYC the typical U.S. Customs choke-point should be less stifling at the new terminal.

Our American friends have installed new automated passport scanners.

This means Canadian and American travellers will no longer have to fill out that customs form. All of your information will go into these new kiosks.

Raymond Purser with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the machine will want answers to a number of routine questions.

"These are the administrative questions that are part of our inspection process," said Purser.

Once you've done that, it's off to see a customs officer.

"When they come up to the officer at the podium, that part of the inspection has already been taken care of. This is where we gain the efficiency."

Purser says this will allow officers to focus on the travellers that specifically need extra scrutiny, allowing other passengers to get through the customs hall to the departure lounge.

Over at Canada Customs, new automated passport scanners have also been installed. But you'll still have to fill in that form flight attendants hand out on your plane.

You will scan that form and your passport in the new kiosks.

The acting director for central Alberta district for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said they're excited to move into the new facility as it will help them more efficiently serve travellers.

Ana-Maria Coutu said you'll still talk with the next available customs officer but it should get you through to your luggage quicker unless something requires a secondary inspection.

The customs hall is about twice the size of the current space at YYC. Chances are even if that 787 from London lands ahead of your flight from Seattle, you should get through here more quickly.

There's also a special line for connecting passengers which puts those travellers into their own line, speeding you through a shorter customs line if you're arriving home to Calgary.

3. At the gate

Seating in the new terminal won't be centred around gates. Instead everyone will sit in a central area which feels more like a mall or food court. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Once you're through security (and customs if applicable), it's off to the gate.

Many travellers like to see where the gate for their flight is and then explore the shops or food court.

At this terminal, everyone will sit in a central area which feels more like a mall or food court. Your gate is a short walk away and you won't find any chairs there.

Stephan Poirier with YYC says this is deliberate. It's known as a 'call to gate' system. "It's more comfortable and it's much better in terms of experience."

4. Space

YYC Link is a ten-passenger electric vehicle which will speed you through the entire terminal in minutes. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

This place is big.

That means there's plenty of room to move so you shouldn't feel packed in as you jet off to Amsterdam or Beijing.

But it does mean there can be some long distances to cover.

For example, if you're flying in from the US or overseas and then transferring to a domestic flight, it can be a long haul from the new terminal to the north end of the existing terminal.

On Oct. 31, YYC will launch its new internal transit system. YYC Link is a ten-passenger electric vehicle which will speed you through the entire complex in minutes.

It has 20 of the vehicles which will run on designated indoor lanes.

When you're talking these kinds of distances, it would be less stressful to let YYC do the driving instead of running for your next gate.

Best of all, this trip is free.