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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 16, 2022, 12:18 pm
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Last edit by: Adam Smith
This wiki will attempt to cover the ability to access various lounges operated by AC. Since many travellers are not familiar with the layout of Canadian airports, we will detail both physical access as well as rules.


Overview of lounges

AC has three types of lounges:
  • Maple Leaf Lounges (“MLLs”): essentially, regular lounges
  • Café: café-style lounge with limited access and grab-and-go
  • Signature Suites: essentially, only for long-haul international business class passengers
Additionally, AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR for eligible customers.

Locations & Physical Access

Lounges are in the following locations:



Notes:
  • YYZ Transborder: there are 2 MLLs, a full MLL right after US CBP and a second, small MLL near the regional gates
  • YYC Transborder: AC provides access to the Aspire lounge for status and J pax (no passes/credit cards)
  • YTZ Café: the Café at YTZ is an Aspire lounge (accessible via Priority Pass and other programs) co-branded by AC
  • EWR: the “MLL” is a co-branding of the United lounge in Terminal A; access rules are not entirely clear


Note that most of the Canadian airports used by AC have separate areas for domestic, transborder ("TB", i.e. to the US), and international flights. MLLs are often referred to based on which area of the terminal they’re in, e.g. “YYZ Dom” is the domestic lounge in YYZ, YUL Intl is the international lounge at YUL. Except when connecting from a domestic flight to a TB/international one, you can only use a lounge in the area from which your flight departs. For instance, a passenger flying from YYZ to LGA cannot use the YYZ Dom MLL as CATSA will not allow them to access the domestic wing; a passenger flying YXE-YYZ-LGA could use the YYZ Dom MLL as they will already be in the domestic area on arrival.

YYZ, YVR, and YUL have segregated international departures areas. The international MLLs cannot be accessed before domestic flights. In other locations, a "domestic" MLL can also be accessed before international flights.

Please note that while the US is a separate country, it is NOT an "international" destination in the way most Canadian airports and AC are set up. You can NEVER access the international lounges when departing on a flight to the US. (Passengers connecting in YVR between a domestic and US flight and following the connections path will enter the international departures area prior to the US area and although can physically access the international MLL, you will not be admitted and will be directed to the US area).

Lounges in transborder areas are after US customs pre-clearance, and can only be accessed by customers travelling to the US.


Access Rules

NEW Effective June 13, 2023
Access to Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafés, and Signature Suites will be limited to three hours prior to scheduled departure time. Please note that this policy does not apply during flight connections or flight delays.


While it is not published at the time of writing this, the internal policy now exempts SEs and most passengers with reported disabilities (eg WCHR) from the three hour rule for Maple Leaf Lounges, but not the Signature Suite.

MLLs

Can be accessed for customers holding a SAME DAY DEPARTING boarding pass (for a flight operated by AC or another *A member) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 35K (domestic and transborder only; no guests; until June 1 2023 - no access on or after)
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • VA Velocity Platinum or Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (on AC or another *A carrier)
    • Premium rouge
  • Passes(passes may only be valid for certain locations, e.g. domestic/TB - Assume your pass is not valid for any International lounge)
    • Given out to those with AC status
    • Given out to certain credit card holders
    • Purchased directly from AC as an add-on to the flight, either in advance or at the lounge
  • Credit cards (no passes required, only for MLLs located within Canada and the US. No access to LHR, CDG, or FRA lounges):
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards

Domestic MLLs in Canada, and MLLs in the USA, can also be accessed by those ARRIVING on an Air Canada mainline, rouge or Express flight, for those holding 50K status and higher.


Signature Suites

Signature Suites require both (a) an eligible fare and (b) an eligible destination. Your flight must be a flight operated by Air Canada that is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver. It doesn’t matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if you’re on an AC codeshare, or if your itinerary has other international connections. Unless your flight is operated by Air Canada, and is advertised as Signature Class, and is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver, you’re not eligible. The only exception is Emirates First Class - see below.

Eligible fares:
  • Paid business class (originally booked in J, C, D, Z, or P classes)
  • Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets - note that only Air Canada can ticket Flexible reward tickets; the website may incorrectly display a partner reward as Flexible
  • First Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets when travelling on an Air Canada segment in Business Class
  • Emirates First Class (one guest)

Eligible destinations:
  • South America (Colombia and south)
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest) reward tickets
  • Anyone booked on a reward ticket through a partner airline, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an international Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an international flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.

Cafés

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Café) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (there is no business class service from YTZ, but a business class boarding pass for the subsequent flight enables access)
    • Premium rouge
  • Credit cards:
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards
Passengers arriving on a domestic flight with a connection to a US or international destination, although you can physically access the Café, you will not be admitted. eGates have been updated to enforce the access policy.

While it is not published, the internal policy exempts SEs from that requirement, so you should be admitted.

LHR Arrivals Lounge

AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR, accessible to the following customers upon exiting the baggage hall in Terminal 2:
  • Business Class (Including upgrades to J)
  • Aeroplan Super Elite (one guest) when arriving on an Air Canada flight
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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Jan 26, 2024, 10:21 am
  #1516  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: YVR
Programs: AC SE 2MM; UA MP Premier Silver; Marriott Bonvoy LT Titanium Elite; Radisson; Avis PC
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Originally Posted by D582
All you need to be a 'connecting pax' is the inbound boarding pass. Being on the same record isn't a requirement. (This is from direct experience at the YVR SS where the 3 hours rule still applies to Super Elites - I was able to spend over 8 hours there).

Linking the PNRs when it carries forward to CM will show this as being on one continuous journey, including to downline Altea carriers.
Bolding is mine.
This is key, however, some of us have still fallen mercy to the whims of the occasionally errant and stubborn agent.

(of course, with 50K and up, you can just say you're arriving as a fallback to the errant agent who hopefully won't deny that too... so I was saying this in relation to non-status J pax)
yyznomad is offline  
Old Jan 26, 2024, 11:31 am
  #1517  
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Originally Posted by yyznomad
Bolding is mine.
This is key, however, some of us have still fallen mercy to the whims of the occasionally errant and stubborn agent.

(of course, with 50K and up, you can just say you're arriving as a fallback to the errant agent who hopefully won't deny that too... so I was saying this in relation to non-status J pax)
My only time having to do this, the agent just asked if I was connecting from somewhere. I started to show my BP, but he didn't care.

But I agree, agents work at the airport.
canadiancow is online now  
Old Feb 2, 2024, 9:15 am
  #1518  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 154
YYZ/YUL to MXP Stopover

This is a very odd routing, AC894 which leaves YYZ, then stops at YUL, before heading to MXP. I wanted to check - will this count as an international departure (allowing access to the international lounge (the SS in my case)) or will I be looking at spending 4+ hours in the dom (the horror!).

Just wondered if anyone had any experience of these kinds of oddity routings. Apologies if I missed a posting in another thread.

Cheers

Pappy
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Old Feb 2, 2024, 9:22 am
  #1519  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by pappypappy
This is a very odd routing, AC894 which leaves YYZ, then stops at YUL, before heading to MXP. I wanted to check - will this count as an international departure (allowing access to the international lounge (the SS in my case)) or will I be looking at spending 4+ hours in the dom (the horror!).

Just wondered if anyone had any experience of these kinds of oddity routings. Apologies if I missed a posting in another thread.

Cheers

Pappy
The YYZ-YUL portion is a normal domestic flight so you will be in the D gates.
cavitron is offline  
Old Feb 2, 2024, 9:37 am
  #1520  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Originally Posted by cavitron
The YYZ-YUL portion is a normal domestic flight so you will be in the D gates.
...and thus will not have access to the wing of Pearson that contains the Signature Suite.
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YOWgary is offline  
Old Feb 12, 2024, 5:37 pm
  #1521  
Formerly known as tireman77
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 5,957
Apologies if this was covered earlier as its not easy to peruse 1500+ posts and I came to this one from Mr. Smith's referral from Lounge access for eUpgrade

If I understand correctly, In a case where one had cleared an eUp prior to day of travel, that passenger would have access to the MLL. Can someone confirm my understanding?

Follow up question: Should the former be correct and the Itinerary is YUL-YYZ (B fare eUped to J cabin) connecting to MUC(PY), would the same day business class rule apply for lounge access in YYZ INT'L before the YYZ-MUC flight, or is this pushing it?

Thanks in advance.
PLeblond is offline  
Old Feb 12, 2024, 5:53 pm
  #1522  
 
Join Date: Sep 2023
Posts: 499
Originally Posted by PLeblond
Apologies if this was covered earlier as its not easy to peruse 1500+ posts and I came to this one from Mr. Smith's referral from Lounge access for eUpgrade

If I understand correctly, In a case where one had cleared an eUp prior to day of travel, that passenger would have access to the MLL. Can someone confirm my understanding?

Follow up question: Should the former be correct and the Itinerary is YUL-YYZ (B fare eUped to J cabin) connecting to MUC(PY), would the same day business class rule apply for lounge access in YYZ INT'L before the YYZ-MUC flight, or is this pushing it?

Thanks in advance.
I your upgrade clears before check-in you will be in J and therefore your BP should indicate lounge access.
Unfortunately I don't think you have lounge access in YYZ if you are in PY. The same day boarding pass relates to the departure airport. (Only 90% on this one).
Wigg is offline  
Old Feb 12, 2024, 6:04 pm
  #1523  
Formerly known as tireman77
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 5,957
Originally Posted by Wigg
I your upgrade clears before check-in you will be in J and therefore your BP should indicate lounge access.
Unfortunately I don't think you have lounge access in YYZ if you are in PY. The same day boarding pass relates to the departure airport. (Only 90% on this one).
If I recall, the same day BP rule also exists for a final leg, but in cases where the connecting flight does not have a J cabin. Example YVR-YUL in J connecting to YOW on a Dash... and that makes sense.

I understand this example pushes the envelope.
PLeblond is offline  
Old Feb 13, 2024, 6:24 am
  #1524  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Posts: 49
Hello,



I have a question about connecting at FRA and using the Maple Leaf Lounge. I hardly ever connect through FRA and/or use the AC Lounge there. I will be flying in from YUL (on AC) and then connecting on to ATH on LH. I will be arriving in the B-gates and then leaving from the A-gates. Upon arrival, I would like to use the AC lounge, which is located in the B-gates area (around B43, I believe). I take it that I would have to stay in the B-gates area when I land and avoid crossing over to the A-gates as there is probably no way to go back-and-forth between the A and B gates.



Any tips? Will I actually be able to use the lounge or is it reserved for those who have flights leaving from the B-gates?



Thanks.
YQMflyer is offline  
Old Feb 13, 2024, 7:10 am
  #1525  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Originally Posted by YQMflyer
Hello,



I have a question about connecting at FRA and using the Maple Leaf Lounge. I hardly ever connect through FRA and/or use the AC Lounge there. I will be flying in from YUL (on AC) and then connecting on to ATH on LH. I will be arriving in the B-gates and then leaving from the A-gates. Upon arrival, I would like to use the AC lounge, which is located in the B-gates area (around B43, I believe). I take it that I would have to stay in the B-gates area when I land and avoid crossing over to the A-gates as there is probably no way to go back-and-forth between the A and B gates.



Any tips? Will I actually be able to use the lounge or is it reserved for those who have flights leaving from the B-gates?



Thanks.
I've done numerous times. Your plane should let you off in the sterile gate area. You'll have no issues using the lounge, just head upstairs to the lounge and don't go through passport control to the A gates. It should be signed for MLL, but is just above the shopping area in the center terminal. Leave yourself enough time for passport control into Shengen and to get to your A gate flight.
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yyzgigi is offline  
Old Feb 13, 2024, 7:19 am
  #1526  
 
Join Date: May 2018
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Originally Posted by YQMflyer
I have a question about connecting at FRA and using the Maple Leaf Lounge. I hardly ever connect through FRA and/or use the AC Lounge there. I will be flying in from YUL (on AC) and then connecting on to ATH on LH. I will be arriving in the B-gates and then leaving from the A-gates. Upon arrival, I would like to use the AC lounge, which is located in the B-gates area (around B43, I believe). I take it that I would have to stay in the B-gates area when I land and avoid crossing over to the A-gates as there is probably no way to go back-and-forth between the A and B gates.

Any tips? Will I actually be able to use the lounge or is it reserved for those who have flights leaving from the B-gates?
Can confirm what yyzgigi said about MLL access.

When you are heading to your A gate you have two options:
  • exit secure area, go through B passport control, walk through landside area to A security
  • go back down to the gate area, follow the signs for Z which should lead you to a bus that transfers you to Z cleanly, passport control down into A
Between 8am and 10am I would probably prefer the former option, otherwise the latter option
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supine is offline  
Old Feb 14, 2024, 4:59 am
  #1527  
 
Join Date: Nov 2021
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Is there a list of which locations have a separate SE line?
warpdryv is offline  
Old Feb 14, 2024, 10:23 am
  #1528  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Hey,

I would always use my MLL pass when connecting DOM to INTL at YYZ. I would use the domestic one as per the MLL pass rule before heading to intl. Was denied access today by an agent who told me it’s never been possible. While i ve done it probably a dozen time. Is it poor knowledge ir has the rule changed?

thanks!
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Old Feb 14, 2024, 1:51 pm
  #1529  
 
Join Date: May 2017
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Does the connecting flight exemption for the 3-hour time limit only work for elite members? The recipient of my one-time use pass just got told to wait another (EDIT) three (can't do math) hours to enter, and that "only elite members who are connecting can enter early". Their flight to Edmonton is at 8pm, ugh

This is all I can dig up, maybe it's stated somewhere else?

  • We invite you to access our Maple Leaf Lounges, Air Canada Cafés, and Signature Suites within three hours of your scheduled departure time (or of your original departure time in the case of a flight delay). Connecting? Please join us anytime as you wait for your next flight.
asovse1 is online now  
Old Feb 14, 2024, 1:58 pm
  #1530  
 
Join Date: Sep 2023
Posts: 499
Originally Posted by asovse1
Does the connecting flight exemption for the 3-hour time limit only work for elite members? The recipient of my one-time use pass just got told to wait another (EDIT) three (can't do math) hours to enter, and that "only elite members who are connecting can enter early". Their flight to Edmonton is at 8pm, ugh

This is all I can dig up, maybe it's stated somewhere else?
That is under admittance rules and thus should apply to everyone. IMO the AC agent is wrong, unless there is something in the pass T&C itself.
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