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Travel Planning for WBC13 by Elizabeth Smith

by on January 31, 2013

About our Guest Blogger: Elizabeth (Beth) Smith is a home-based travel agent and travel and wine blogger affectionately known by her Twitter ID, @travelwinechick. She holds WSET’s Level 1 Award in Wines and Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits, in addition to graduate degrees and studies in French and Spanish education. Visit her blog, Travelling Wine Chick

I am happy to say that I am completely booked for #WBC13. I am flying from a regional east coast airport so it took some strategizing on my part; I encourage you to register and start the planning and booking process as soon as possible.

If you’re flying, here are some tips and options to get you to and from Penticton:

Seattle (SEA)
I found Seattle to be the best option for me flying from the East Coast with regard to both cost and scheduling. Even if you are flying from a smaller airport, you will probably only have to connect once to fly to Seattle. If you are flying from an airline’s hub or a major airport, you may not have to connect at all.

Once you are in Seattle, you have a few options:

  • Go on the Lake Chelan Wine Country Pre-Conference Excursion, which will provide both a great experience and bus transportation to Penticton.
  • Fly nonstop on Alaska Airlines between Seattle and Kelowna (YLW). There are only two Alaska Airline options in and out of Kelowna daily and the plane (De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 Dash 8 turboprop) only seats 70 so plan accordingly.
  • Rent a car for the six-hour drive each way to and from Penticton.

To return to Seattle from Penticton one way, there is one Greyhound bus option (7:30 a.m.-6:15 p.m., two transfers) or you can fly one way back to Seattle on Alaska Airlines via Kelowna.

Vancouver (YVR)
Depending on your departure airport, Vancouver may be the best option for you. Once you are in Vancouver, you can rent a car for the five-hour drive each way between Vancouver and Penticton or fly.

There are nonstop flights offered between Vancouver and Penticton on Air Canada. Another option is to fly nonstop, roundtrip between Vancouver and Kelowna on WestJet and take the conference shuttle to/from Penticton. WestJet has more options between Vancouver and Kelowna than Air Canada has between Vancouver and Penticton.

Los Angeles (LAX)
For those of you departing from or connecting through Los Angeles, United Airlines now has one nonstop flight daily between Los Angeles and Kelowna.  If you elect to fly this route, make sure to check the flight schedules, as it currently appears you would need to arrive in Kelowna on Wednesday, June 5, as it is a late evening arrival.

San Francisco (SFO)
Per blogger, Thea Dwelle, of Luscious Lushes SFO is a good option to get into Kelowna, BC. West Jet, Alaska, and United all have options with reasonable schedules and fares.

In General

Remember that if you sign up for the pre-conference excursion in Kelowna, you should plan to travel to Kelowna and arrive at the airport before 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5.

If you are taking the Lake Chelan pre-conference excursion from Seattle, you should plan to arrive before 11:00am on Wednesday, June 5.

10% discounts are offered on both Air Canada and Alaska Airlines for attendees in and/out of Kelowna or Penticton. You will receive a discount code upon registration.

The conference organizers are working on arranging shuttle service to and from the Kelowna airport for attendees. There is a tentative $10 charge for this service; details are coming. If you fly into Penticton, there will be a free shuttle from the airport (Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday) to the conference offered by Penticton and Wine Country Tourism.

Lastly, remember that if you are traveling from outside of Canada to the conference that you will need a passport.


  • Elizabeth Smith

    If you plan to travel a lot, then having loyalty with one or two airlines really helps in the long run. In addition to miles you can earn towards free travel, you may also travel enough enough to earn status, which will get you all sorts of perks, as well as upgraded customer service. You have also chosen two of the best airlines in the air. I wish I had access to Virgin America and Alaska!

  • Cindy

    Great Tips!!!! I’ve always been so bad about frequent flyer miles. I’m finally finding loyalty with Virgin America & Alaska, which can pretty much get me where I’d like to go most of the time.

  • Elizabeth Smith

    The AS options require two connections to YLW from SFO, but the best options appear to be from SFO on AC to YLW. It’s worth the current $18 fare difference to only connect once and stay on the same carrier. You can also fly AC to YYF, but the fares are much higher and the scheduling more tricky. As a travel agent and 16-year frequent flyer, I always recommend that my clients stay on the same carrier or alliance when flying internationally (even if it is Canada), do not connect more than once, and book directly with the airline, not a third-party website. As an East Coast traveler from a small regional airport, Seattle made the most sense to me. Therefore, I’ll be flying in and out of SEA on Delta, participating in the Lake Chelan excursion, then flying back to SEA from YLW one way on Alaska (using the coupon code). Cheers!

  • Cindy

    Good call, Thea! I will add to the post.

  • winebratsf

    You migiht want to add SFO as a transfer option. a BUSY international hub we have two optinos via WesJet as well as Alaska and United alliance options.

    I am finding a very friendly schedule as well as prices.