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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
  • Caf: caf-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 Caf: the Caf 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 theyre 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 Cafs, 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 doesnt matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if youre 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, youre 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.

Cafs

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Caf) 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 Caf, 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 May 14, 2024, 11:37 pm
  #1696  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: anywhere and everywhere
Programs: UA GS, AS MVP 100K, DL Diamond, Marriot Lifetime Titanium, AmEx Centurion
Posts: 5,612
Originally Posted by yeeg
I've accessed many ua club lounges on non rev tickets. Spent 12 hours in HNL in January trying to fly standby back to the mainland.

other than being SE and *G, I didn't ask too many questions other which way to the bar.
Im only going to note that trying to use status to access lounges with nonrev benefits is prohibited and can lead to suspension of privileges. You may wish to take this down.
ironmanjt is offline  
Old May 15, 2024, 5:17 am
  #1697  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Gotham city
Programs: AC SE, HH Diamond
Posts: 82
Originally Posted by ironmanjt
Im only going to note that trying to use status to access lounges with nonrev benefits is prohibited and can lead to suspension of privileges. You may wish to take this down.
Ironmanjt, I believe you are misinterpreting the non rev rule for discounted/employee united tickets. A reward ticket on a star alliance partner with *G status does allow access (plus one guest]. This applies to UC and not lounges with special entry rules such as Polaris. Just as the parallel situation of *G access to a MLL.
Burgertime is offline  
Old May 15, 2024, 9:02 am
  #1698  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: anywhere and everywhere
Programs: UA GS, AS MVP 100K, DL Diamond, Marriot Lifetime Titanium, AmEx Centurion
Posts: 5,612
Originally Posted by Burgertime
Ironmanjt, I believe you are misinterpreting the non rev rule for discounted/employee united tickets. A reward ticket on a star alliance partner with *G status does allow access (plus one guest]. This applies to UC and not lounges with special entry rules such as Polaris. Just as the parallel situation of *G access to a MLL.
The OP specifically said a nonrev ticket - not an award ticket. I know access on awards is allowed, but he made it sound like benefit travel - which at least on UA will only allowed access with a paid UC membership.
ironmanjt is offline  
Old May 15, 2024, 10:15 am
  #1699  
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE, Hilton Gold, Golf Canada Top 3%
Posts: 198
Originally Posted by ironmanjt
The OP specifically said a nonrev ticket - not an award ticket. I know access on awards is allowed, but he made it sound like benefit travel - which at least on UA will only allowed access with a paid UC membership.
like I said, "or i think they used my creds". I just handed them my bp and put my card on the counter.
yeeg is offline  
Old May 15, 2024, 10:31 am
  #1700  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Programs: Aeroplan 50k, Bonvoy Gold, Accor Gold
Posts: 107
Originally Posted by yeeg
I flew UA YYC ORD on a non rev ticket and used my AC credentials to access the united club on arrival. Or I think they used my AC Creds.
I've been denied in these circumstances, and specifically told AC*G doesn't have UC arrival access (they then scanned my onward boarding pass for that evening and was allowed entrance...)

Edit: To keep on the topic of this thread and to the original question, arrivals access at AC lounge is an Aeroplan privilege, not a *G privilege. Who knows what a given agent might allow, but per the access rules this case should not be granted access.
ironmanjt likes this.
CA_Traffic is offline  
Old May 15, 2024, 11:27 am
  #1701  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: YOW
Programs: AC E75K *G
Posts: 7,116
Currently in the LGA MLL despite not being on *A flight - on AA to YUL.

Turns out it is a Dragonpass lounge as well, which is currently the CIBC Aeroplan Visa Inf. Priv. lounge network.
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zorn is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 10:37 am
  #1702  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: SEA once more (previously CDG and NRT)
Programs: Former DL DM and UA 1k, now a J class free agent (UA Gold, AS MVP Gold)
Posts: 2,453
Yesterday, flew LIS-YUL connecting on to YUL-SEA, all in business class on the same ticket.

Layover in YUL was 4.5 hours. Lounge attendant didn’t want to let me in at YUL transboarder MLL, citing the 3 hour rule, but agreed to make an exception. Was this a case of a poorly informed agent, or correct interpretation of the 3 hour policy?

Experience left a bad taste in my mouth - if it’s policy, will book away from AC in the future.
SEA-Flyer is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 10:44 am
  #1703  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: YYC
Posts: 23,887
Originally Posted by SEA-Flyer
Yesterday, flew LIS-YUL connecting on to YUL-SEA, all in business class on the same ticket.

Layover in YUL was 4.5 hours. Lounge attendant didnt want to let me in at YUL transboarder MLL, citing the 3 hour rule, but agreed to make an exception. Was this a case of a poorly informed agent, or correct interpretation of the 3 hour policy?

Experience left a bad taste in my mouth - if its policy, will book away from AC in the future.
It's not policy. Plus, I am pretty sure they have let me in in that lounge when connecting with over a three hour connection. Scanning the BP should let them know it's a connection.

So, not sure what happened in your case.
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Stranger is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 3:19 pm
  #1704  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: YLW
Programs: AC- SE100 1MM, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, National Executive, Nexus/GE
Posts: 4,388
In the YUL INT MLL with a 5.5 hour layover and we have lines. 3 hour rules does not apply when connecting.


Long line

Last edited by Adam Smith; May 18, 2024 at 4:26 pm Reason: Merge consecutive posts by same user
HerpaYvr is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 3:26 pm
  #1705  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Ideally YOW, but probably not
Programs: AC SE*MM
Posts: 1,849
Originally Posted by HerpaYvr
In the YUL INT MLL with a 5.5 hour layover and we have lines. 3 hour rules does not apply when connecting.
At least YUL INTL has an SE line now with a sign up coming from the opposite direction where SEs can bypass everyone else waiting. I still couldn't imagine not being SE and paying for a J ticket and waiting in a huge line outside the YUL INTL lounge. Was talking to one of the Montreal concierges this week and they said now that summer season is on and FCO, ATH, etc. are flying it just goes to .... every night.
RatherBeInYOW is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 4:29 pm
  #1706  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: YLW
Programs: AC- SE100 1MM, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, National Executive, Nexus/GE
Posts: 4,388
Originally Posted by RatherBeInYOW
At least YUL INTL has an SE line now with a sign up coming from the opposite direction where SEs can bypass everyone else waiting. I still couldn't imagine not being SE and paying for a J ticket and waiting in a huge line outside the YUL INTL lounge. Was talking to one of the Montreal concierges this week and they said now that summer season is on and FCO, ATH, etc. are flying it just goes to .... every night.

Yes, I left at 6:10 to do a walk around the terminal as it's warm up here and i need to move. It's about 6:30 and I was let in right away as i was in before. Line up is smaller out there, but I also notice the other lounges also have line ups. Conceige also stated they have been busy with the new routes and frequencies.
HerpaYvr is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 4:55 pm
  #1707  
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: YYC
Posts: 23,887
Originally Posted by HerpaYvr
In the YUL INT MLL with a 5.5 hour layover and we have lines. 3 hour rules does not apply when connecting.

Long line
We went to the YVR domestic one a couple of days ago. There was a separate line for SEs. Which was empty when we arrived. My wife was ready to join the regular line and when I commented that no, we should stay in front of the SE one, some people in the line apparently gave us a nasty look.... Dixit my wife.
Stranger is offline  
Old May 18, 2024, 5:46 pm
  #1708  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: YLW
Programs: AC- SE100 1MM, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, National Executive, Nexus/GE
Posts: 4,388
Originally Posted by Stranger
We went to the YVR domestic one a couple of days ago. There was a separate line for SEs. Which was empty when we arrived. My wife was ready to join the regular line and when I commented that no, we should stay in front of the SE one, some people in the line apparently gave us a nasty look.... Dixit my wife.
That's OK SE status trumps dirty looks, lol 😂
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HerpaYvr is offline  
Old May 19, 2024, 6:06 pm
  #1709  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Programs: Mileage plus
Posts: 107
Hey folks,

booked a flex fare YOW-YYZ-KEF round trip. Have the option of getting access to MLL for 79 bucks. Will I get access in both YOW and YYZ during the layover? It does not say
Unmaxdemax is offline  
Old May 30, 2024, 4:18 am
  #1710  
 
Join Date: Mar 2022
Posts: 39
22:30 YYZ - YHZ 01:38
10:05 YHZ - YVR 12:25

Do I have access to the MLL lounge in YHZ earlier than 7:05 or am I restricted to entry 3 hours prior even though It's a short overnight connection to YVR.
LHR king is offline  

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