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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 Jun 11, 2024, 10:10 pm
  #1726  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Originally Posted by UAFAM
SFO-YUL in Business, ticketed by AC but operated by UA, do I get access to either MLL or UC at SFO? Thanks!
UA doesn't fly SFO-YUL AFAIK.

Ticketing airline is pretty much irrelevant for lounge access.
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Old Jun 11, 2024, 11:36 pm
  #1727  
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
UA doesn't fly SFO-YUL AFAIK.
Incorrect, United does fly SFO-YUL on a 737 MAX:



Originally Posted by canadiancow
Ticketing airline is pretty much irrelevant for lounge access.
To answer the user's question, yes lounge access is included. Quoting from the Air Canada website:
Business and First Class Ticket Holders Enjoy Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge access as you wait for your Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada codeshare flight, or for a flight with one of our Star Alliance partners.
One thing to keep in mind is the Maple Leaf Lounge at SFO closes 10 PM and your flight departs at 11 PM. If you want to maximize your lounge experience, it might make sense to visit the United Club, which is open midnight in terminal 3 near gate F11. Here are the access rules for that:
​​​​​​​

United First®

A same-day boarding pass on any flight to or from Canada.
In terms of which lounge is better, the Air Canada one should be better from my experience. For one thing they have showers. Additionally, United Clubs tend to be very stingy when it comes to food (the last time I visited, there was cheese and crackers, a feast suitable for a mouse!)

​​​​​​​-RooFlyer88
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Old Jun 11, 2024, 11:57 pm
  #1728  
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Originally Posted by kangarooflyer88
Incorrect, United does fly SFO-YUL on a 737 MAX:
News to me, but good to know, thanks.

To answer the user's question, yes lounge access is included. Quoting from the Air Canada website:
I actually disagree that their stated access policy matches reality. But an international *A flight definitely has access.

One thing to keep in mind is the Maple Leaf Lounge at SFO closes 10 PM and your flight departs at 11 PM. If you want to maximize your lounge experience, it might make sense to visit the United Club, which is open midnight in terminal 3 near gate F11.
Agreed.
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Old Jun 12, 2024, 3:26 am
  #1729  
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
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Originally Posted by kangarooflyer88
To answer the user's question, yes lounge access is included. Quoting from the Air Canada website:

-RooFlyer88
Thank you, most likely will visit UC (Rotunda)
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Old Jun 23, 2024, 5:08 pm
  #1730  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 150
Curious, at YUL, montreal where is the Maple Leafe Louge for transborder, to USA? Essentially, after customs, you walk into their DUTY FREE... once you get past DF, you appear with a dashboard of flights ahead of you. You can also bank left to gates, equally bank right, to gates as well. Right is where a starbucks and a TimHortons are. Left is where there is a Lesters.
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Old Jun 24, 2024, 6:21 pm
  #1731  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Originally Posted by abc5
Curious, at YUL, montreal where is the Maple Leafe Louge for transborder, to USA? Essentially, after customs, you walk into their DUTY FREE... once you get past DF, you appear with a dashboard of flights ahead of you. You can also bank left to gates, equally bank right, to gates as well. Right is where a starbucks and a TimHortons are. Left is where there is a Lesters.
There is actually a Starbucks both left (if you walk far enough) and right. The YUL TB MLL is across from the Starbucks on the right.
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Old Jun 25, 2024, 2:49 pm
  #1732  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 184
Hi...I am flying AC894 from YYZ to MXP on a paid business ticket. The flight is considered direct but with 1 stop in YUL. Does anyone has insights if I will be allowed entry in to the Signature Suites at YYZ?
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Old Jun 25, 2024, 2:58 pm
  #1733  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Originally Posted by Billy910
Hi...I am flying AC894 from YYZ to MXP on a paid business ticket. The flight is considered direct but with 1 stop in YUL. Does anyone has insights if I will be allowed entry in to the Signature Suites at YYZ?
I think that will be difficult as the first leg to YUL leaves from the "D" gates and is a domestic flight. You will however, based on the 20:05 dep to MXP, probably have the opportunity to wait in line to access a probably over-crowded Int'l MLL at YUL.
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Old Jun 27, 2024, 12:11 pm
  #1734  
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
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Due to a time change my YQT-YYZ-YVR-BKK all AC itinerary will have a 12h layover in YVR before departing to BKK. I may set a record for time in the Signature Suite that day. Will i have any issues getting past the airport staff who checks your ticket as you enter the international departures area of YVR since its 12h before my flight? Ive only flown YVR a couple times and am not familiar with why they even check your boarding pass, i assume its to prevent smuggling or something?
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Old Jun 27, 2024, 12:35 pm
  #1735  
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Originally Posted by ThePopes
Due to a time change my YQT-YYZ-YVR-BKK all AC itinerary will have a 12h layover in YVR before departing to BKK. I may set a record for time in the Signature Suite that day. Will i have any issues getting past the airport staff who checks your ticket as you enter the international departures area of YVR since its 12h before my flight? Ive only flown YVR a couple times and am not familiar with why they even check your boarding pass, i assume its to prevent smuggling or something?
You'll have no issue anywhere.
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Old Jun 27, 2024, 1:17 pm
  #1736  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
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Originally Posted by ThePopes
Due to a time change my YQT-YYZ-YVR-BKK all AC itinerary will have a 12h layover in YVR before departing to BKK. I may set a record for time in the Signature Suite that day. Will i have any issues getting past the airport staff who checks your ticket as you enter the international departures area of YVR since its 12h before my flight? Ive only flown YVR a couple times and am not familiar with why they even check your boarding pass, i assume its to prevent smuggling or something?
Why would you want to spend that long in the airport? Your bags (if any) will be checked through, take the train into the city and walk around a bit at the very least...
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Old Jun 27, 2024, 2:02 pm
  #1737  
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Originally Posted by CA_Traffic
Why would you want to spend that long in the airport?
Because not everyone is you. Not everyone has the same desires as you. Not everyone has the same mobility as you. etc
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Old Jul 4, 2024, 10:37 am
  #1738  
 
Join Date: Jun 2024
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Can't see an answer to this--I have put status passes onto family bookings for YYC-LHR, flying Y. What lounge can they access at YYC? Aspire Intl? Or domestic MLL and cross over to D gates before departure?

Last edited by jausflyer; Jul 4, 2024 at 12:35 pm
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Old Jul 4, 2024, 10:40 am
  #1739  
 
Join Date: Sep 2023
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Originally Posted by jausflyer
Can't see an answer to this--I have put status passes onto family bookings for YYC-LHR, flying Y. What lounge can they access at YYC? Aspire Intl? Or domestic MLL and cross over to E gates before departure?
They can definitely access the MLL and then go to the E gates. I'm fairly certain the Aspire Int'l access has ended for AC.
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Old Jul 4, 2024, 11:56 am
  #1740  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
Because not everyone is you. Not everyone has the same desires as you. Not everyone has the same mobility as you. etc
Very fair and point taken
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