In this series, I will talk about how to use Seattle as an alternate airport for those in the Vancouver area and Vancouver Island.
- Overview of Seattle Airport
- Examples of Savings over Vancouver / YVR
- Driving from the Vancouver Area
- Parking at SEA
- Other Ground Transportation
- Getting there from Victoria and Vancouver Island
In a previous article, I commented on how to drive to SEA from the Vancouver area. In this article, Ill discuss the best ways to get from the Vancouver area to SEA if you do not want to take your own car.
|Driving a personal car||250km worth of gas||3.5 hours||Passenger vehicle border inspections|
|Quick Coach (bus)||Direct bus service from Vancouver locations to Seattle Airport||$43 – $57 / way||4-5 hours||Passengers must disembark the bus for customs at the border||Great, on time service|
|Greyhound (bus)||Service from Vancouver to Seattle downtown. Requires transfer to Seattle LINK to get to Seattle Airport||$14 – $32 / way (bus)
$2.75 / way (Seattle LINK)
|5 hours||Passengers must disembark the bus for customs at the border||Adherence to a schedule does not appear to be Greyhound’s primary concern|
|Amtrak (train)||Train service from Vancouver downtown to Seattle downtown. Requires transfer to Seattle LINK to get to Seattle Airport||$40 / way (train)
$2.75 / way (Seattle Link)
$50 for taxi service
|4.5– 5 hours||Passengers clear US customs prior to boarding the train in Vancouver
Passengers clear Canadian customs upon arrival in Vancouver
|Amtrak tends to run on schedule. No border delays.|
|Air||Book your own flight from YVR to SEA for a very low price||$150 / person
4500 BA miles + tax
|2 hour||Border crossing would be done at YVR||4500 British Airways miles / way + tax on Alaska Airlines flights is the best way to get this route|
For those people who either don’t have a car, or don’t want to take their car to Seattle, there are other options.
Buses to Seattle Airport
The best bus to take from Vancouver to Seattle airport would be the Quickcoach. In my experience, they do a great job and run on schedule. They give a good amount of buffer for the border delay, so they schedule 4 hours to get to Vancouver. The price is between $43 / way and $57 / way, depending on the season, if you buy in advance and if you are buying a roundtrip ticket or only 1-way.
Quickcoach runs service to various points in the United States and certain points in Canada. Their goal is really to cover people interested in traveling out of the airport on the other side of the border. As a result, they require all passengers to take the ride across the border. The advantage is that once you cross the border, there is no waiting for the schedule to pick people up. There are only stops to drop people off once the border is crossed. They have between 5 and 8 busses running every day, depending on the season, so it is easy enough to find a time that works well.
Quickcoach does a great job of providing the service from Vancouver area to Seattle airport. The only real issue with the QuickCoach service is that it is a bus, which makes for an unpleasant border crossing experience.
See the note below on crossing the border by bus.***
Buses to Seattle City
Cantrail runs regular coach service from Vancouver to downtown Seattle. For those interested in taking this bus, the fare is about $50, depending on the schedule.
Greyhound runs buses between Vancouver and other points in British Columbia to Seattle’s bus terminal downtown. Fares appear to be $14 for advanced purchase and around $30 for standard fares. I have never taken the Greyhound between Vancouver and Seattle. From my experience using Greyhound to cross the border, I would say that this would not be an ideal option. Greyhound tends to cater to a very price conscious customer base and as a result they don’t necessarily run as much on schedule as a Quickcoach or Cantrail would.
***Be aware that when crossing the border in a bus, that passengers will need to disembark the bus, along with all luggage and walk through the immigration line (with luggage in tow) as an empty bus crosses. This can be very time consuming and your entire bus may be delayed if even one of your passengers is held up at immigration.
Train to Seattle City
Amtrak offers train service from Vancouver to Seattle downtown. The rates are $40 / ride and it appears to be quite comfortable. The ride takes about 4 hours.
It appears that Amtrak has really figured out that crossing the border is a real source of frustration for people, and has made sure to make this as easy as possible. Similar to Canadian airports, it appears that US bound trains are fenced off at Vancouver’s train station. US Customs and immigration is done at the train station before boarding the train, which means that the train can proceed through the border without a delay. This convenience of crossing the border without having to empty out of a bus is a very nice aspect of this mode of transportation.
Getting from Seattle City to the airport
Once you arrive at Seattle downtown, there are a few different ways to get to the airport.
First, if money is a concern, you can take the Metro Light Rail all the way to the airport. The rates are $2.75 / ride on the light rail. This takes about 1 hour.
If you are not as concerned about money, or if you have a few people interested in going, a taxi should cost you about $40 and takes about 20 minutes. Taxis should be easy to hail from outside the train station.
Also, there are some shuttle services that cost about $20 / person for service between downtown and Seattle airport. Downtown Airporter will cost about $20 for the first person and $8 for additional passengers. Given that these are shared run services, you may be spending an hour or more in transit. Given the price / time / hassle, I think that the shuttle services are really not the best option here.
Fly from YVR to SEA
If you are really not interested in going to Seattle on the ground, there is an option of flying yourself to SEA. In the situation where a flight is outrageously more expensive from YVR vs SEA and you would be willing to start your journey / end your journey with a YVR-SEA leg, it may make sense to buy that YVR-SEA leg separately.
Cash prices for this are actually relatively pricey, but you can get lucky. A quick search pulled up rates of $200 for the YVR-SEA leg and $150 for the SEA-YVR leg.
There is a hack here, though. If you have British Airways Avios (miles), it only costs 4500 Avios + taxes each way to fly on the Alaska Airlines flights between SEA and YVR. There are many flights every day and if you are flexible, you should have a good chance to redeem these. This is a very good use of those Avios.
If you are making your way to Seattle from the Vancouver area and are not interested in driving your own car, there are options.
Your best choice is going to the the Quickcoach bus which costs about $50 and takes you right to SEA airport from various places in Vancouver area. If you prefer, there are buses and trains that can get you to Seattle (city) and you can make your way to the airport using taxis or public transit from downtown.
Should you really want to fly from YVR-SEA, your best bet would be to redeem 4500 British Airways Avios for a flight on Alaska Airlines which runs this route.