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YYC Express and Other Expert Tips to Get Through Calgary Airport Security Fast

YYC Express and Other Expert Tips to Get Through Calgary Airport Security Fast

Bypassing a lineup is a beautiful thing – especially when you are in an airport. The good news is there are ways to reduce security lineup wait times at Calgary International Airport. One of the easiest ways to avoid security lineups is with a free reservation service called YYC Express. On a recent journey through Calgary Airport, I tested YYC Express and it worked great. It’s one of several ways to reduce the time you spend in lineups at the airport.

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An image of the YYC Express sign in Calgary Airport.
You’ll notice these helpful signs when you’re standing in the security lineup. Try to make a reservation before you get this far.

What is YYC Express?

YYC Express is a reservation service that lets you reserve a time to pass through security through a dedicated queue. Book a time to go through security and then show up at your reservation time. You will be allowed to enter security at your reservation time and for 15 minutes following your reservation time. When I did it, there were about 100 people in the lineup waiting to get through security. I went in front of all of them.

How do I Make a YYC Express Reservation?

Visit the YYC Express Reservation Site and make an online reservation. You’ll need your flight information in order to make a reservation. You can make a reservation up to 48 hours prior to your flight departure time. Give yourself enough time to deposit checked bags (if you have any) and make it to the security queue. Your spot will be held for 15 minutes after the reserved time. Show your reservation to staff and you’ll go straight to security bypassing the lineup.

Important Tip for Using YYC Express

When you make a YYC Express Reservation, a QR code will be displayed. Take a screenshot of the confirmed reservation and the QR code. You will be emailed a copy of the reservation. If you don’t receive the email, you will still have a copy of the reservation if you screenshot it. I made a YYC Express reservation on two occasions. The first time, I received an email copy of the reservation, but the second time I didn’t receive the email. Fortunately, I had a screenshot of my confirmed reservation.

An image of people who did not make a reservation using YYC Express standing in a line at Calgary airport.
Do you see this line of people waiting for security to open at 4 am? If you make a reservation using YYC Express, you don’t have to be in this lineup.

When Should I Make a YYC Express Reservation?

You can make the reservation up to 48 hours prior to your flight departure time. We recommend making your reservation well in advance to get the best selection of reservation times. There are a limited number of YYC Express reservations at any given time. If you wait until you’re at the airport to make the reservation, the time you want might not be available.

Worried about losing checked baggage? Check out these inexpensive luggage trackers.

Does YYC Express Really Work?

YYC Express works great! I’ve used YYC Express twice. The first time, I waited until I was in the airport to make the reservation and the times I wanted weren’t available. The second time I used YYC Express, I booked 48 hours in advance. I showed up at the airport before my scheduled time and walked through security without a wait. It was fantastic. There were about 100 people in line behind me. It was incredibly satisfying to know that I wasn’t going to the back of that lineup.

Using YYC Express helps you get out of the airport faster.

Which Airports Have Express Reservations for Security?

In November 2022, Canada’s five busiest airports introduced the new Express program that allows departing passengers to reserve a spot in the security line. You can use this system at the following airports:
Calgary (YYC) – YYC Express
Edmonton (YEG) – YEG Express
Montreal (YUL) – YUL Express
Toronto (YYZ) – YYZ Express
Vancouver (YVR) – YVR Express

There’s more than one security entrance if you’re flying domestically. Look at the security wait times before you choose which lineup to join – if you didn’t make a reservation.

Other Ways to Bypass Security Lineups at Calgary International Airport

If you’re travelling domestically, there’s more than one security entrance. You can check the wait times for Calgary Airport security and screening by visiting this link. One time when I was traveling domestically, I went to the security entrance closest to my gate and discovered an enormous lineup. I checked the website and discovered that the next closest security screening point had no lineup. If I joined the line, it was going to take about an hour to clear security. Instead of standing in the long line, I checked the wait times at the other security entrances. One of them had a 5 minute wait. I walked to the next security entrance and walked right up to the security screening point without waiting. Once through security, I walked a little further to get to the gate, but overall I saved about 45 minutes and a lot of frustration.

How to Get Through Security Screening Quickly

Be prepared when you go through security. Only bring liquids, aerosols and gels that are packaged in containers with a capacity of 100 ml (3.4 oz) or less. All liquids must fit into one transparent, closed and resealable plastic bag with a capacity of no more than 1L (1 qt). You can get these bags at the airport outside the security gate. If you have a water bottle, empty it before you get into the security screening lineup. Make sure your laptop is removed from it’s case and placed in a separate bin. Take off your coat, empty your pant pockets, , remove your belt and shoes (if you are traveling to the USA). Be organized, efficient and respectful to security personnel. This not the time to make jokes. Making lewd comments during a pat down is not amusing.

How Can You Save Time Waiting in Line at US Customs?

The NEXUS Program is the easiest way to avoid lineups when entering the United States or Canada. NEXUS is designed to speed up border crossings into Canada and the United States for low-risk, pre-approved travellers. It is jointly run by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In the United States it is referred to as Global Entry.

Need a Laugh? Read our post How Not to Get on an Airplane.

Have you ever looked longingly at the empty NEXUS lineup? It only costs $50 to apply and the card is valid for 5 years.

How Much Does NEXUS Cost?

There is a $50 (USD) non-refundable application processing fee, but once you are approved, it is valid for five years. Children under the age of 18 can apply for NEXUS for free. Passengers with NEXUS can use self-serve NEXUS kiosks and eGates at nine major international airports in Canada and Transportation Security Administration Pre-Check lines at over 200 participating U.S. airports. There are also dedicated vehicle lanes at 21 designated land border crossings between the United States and Canada. To use the Nexus line, every person in your group must have their own NEXUS card.

How to Apply for NEXUS

Click this link for full details on how to apply for NEXUS. You need to accurately fill out the application, pay the $50 processing fee and go through an in-person interview in order to qualify for NEXUS.

What to Do When You’re Stuck in the Calgary Airport

There are plenty of things to do in Calgary airport. If you’re traveling with children, visit the YYC Kid Zones and let the kids burn off some energy. For a great place to relax or take a nap, head to an airport lounge or the free YYC Quiet Space. If you aren’t traveling business class and you don’t have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge or the WestJet Lounge, you can purchase a short term pass for one of the Aspire Lounges.

An image of a Donald Duck collection on display at Vancouver Airport.
If you’re stuck in airport, ,make the best of it by viewing the displays and public art.

There’s a Hotel Right at the Calgary Airport

If you’re stuck at the airport and you want to find the most convenient hotel, check out Delta Hotels Calgary Airport In-Terminal. It’s right at the airport.

Happy Travels

Using YYC Express, NEXUS, and checking security wait times is one way you can make your journey go more smoothly. But maintaining a positive attitude and being kind to others is the real secret to happy travels.

Related: Check out our Lynx Airline Review about the discount carrier’s inaugural flight from Calgary International Airport.


First of all, which Delta hotel are you talking about; the Delta hotel, or the Delta Marriot? There has always been a confusion about which one is being referred to when passengers are asking. The Delta hotel is the original one across the street on the Departures level; that is the easiet access! Secondly; there are several hotels with shuttles within easy driving.
And if you get to the airport a couple of hours ahead of your departure time there is usually a quiet time at the security gate; and you can check in and then take a trip to check out how busy they are, and join the lineup when things are moving along well. And check the departures board for times when there are fewer flights departing.
And after you get through security and have time to relax, then you can have a coffee or other drink; check your emails or people watch. And keep a watch on your gate as to when it opens and where you are in the lineup. If I am seated near the front of the plane I don’t rush to get on, I let the people seated further back get on first, and then I am not being pushed around so much.
Organization leads to less stress and a more enjoyable trip! And try to be as patient and polite as possible; because otherwise you start out stressed for a trip you are hoping will be pleasant and a good getaway!
Happy travels! And SMILE! It works wonders!
I don’t know how many times over my 25 years as a White Hatter, when I approached passengers with a smile and asked ,” May I help you”, their stressed look turned into relief that there was someone there to help them!
It is the best feeling in the world when you have helped someone have a better day! I very seldom knew the rest of the story about the rest of their trip; but I had helped them when and where I could at that point of their day.

Hi Eileen, Thanks so much for your kind advice and comments about how to navigate Calgary airport. The advice of a white hatter is always much appreciated and will be helpful for people who read this post in the future. One of the things that makes Calgary airport special is the team of volunteers dressed in white hats who are there to offer help and directions. I don’t know of any other airport that has a team quite like the white hatters. Thanks for what you do and thanks again for the tips and advice. Sincerely, Debbie

A couple of things … the Delta hotel closed during the pandemic and has not reopened. The Marriot within the airport is open. As Eileen mentioned, there are many hotels in the area with shuttles so the Marriot isn’t your only option (it’s pricier than some of the others). As for lounges, anyone fllying on any airline can pay to use the WestJet lounge (unless they are at capacity) so in addition to the Aspire lounges, check out the Elevation lounge run by WestJet.

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