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

Old Aug 16, 2022, 1:18 pm
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Last edit by: canadiancow
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 (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 Aug 24, 2022, 6:34 pm
  #166  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: YYZ
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
EL is lowest. EF is flexible.

Z is irrelevant.
Oh well. Thanks for the info. You know this stuff inside out! I appreciate it.
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Old Aug 25, 2022, 5:18 am
  #167  
 
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Signature lounge in YYZ and Which lounge in SFO

Flying on paid business class ticket DUB-YYZ-SFO with both SFO sectors in Signature class on A330. Have a 4 hour layover in YYZ so would I be able to access SS before the SFO flights. Secondly which lounge would I have access to as star gold travelling in signature class in SFO. Many thanks.
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Old Aug 25, 2022, 6:19 am
  #168  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: YYZ
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Originally Posted by Malibu369
Flying on paid business class ticket DUB-YYZ-SFO with both SFO sectors in Signature class on A330. Have a 4 hour layover in YYZ so would I be able to access SS before the SFO flights. Secondly which lounge would I have access to as star gold travelling in signature class in SFO. Many thanks.
No, you will not have access to the signature suite. You're leaving YYZ to go to the states, which is considered "trans-border", not international - so you will not even be in the same part of the airport as the SS.

You will only have access to the trans-border MLL, which is upstairs after you have cleared US immigration.
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canopus27 is offline  
Old Aug 25, 2022, 8:13 am
  #169  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: YYZ
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Posts: 3,121
Originally Posted by canopus27
No, you will not have access to the signature suite. You're leaving YYZ to go to the states, which is considered "trans-border", not international - so you will not even be in the same part of the airport as the SS.

You will only have access to the trans-border MLL, which is upstairs after you have cleared US immigration.
Wiki updated to make this point super crystal clear.
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Old Aug 25, 2022, 3:32 pm
  #170  
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
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Posts: 351
Originally Posted by lsquare
Unless I was half asleep, I'm pretty sure it was opened.
Originally Posted by bocastephen
Not sure if the PP lounge is open yet, last time I was there, it was not - but if it is, I recall it being an overall better experience than the MLL
At the risk of drifting off topic, I can confirm the YYZ T1 domestic premium plaza lounge (post security) re-opened last week.
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Old Aug 25, 2022, 3:37 pm
  #171  
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
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YYZ T1 arrival access

Last week, my arrival into YYZ T1 was a bit late and missed my GO bus. Thought I'd try my luck going into the MLL. Surprisingly, my BP allowed me in.
I was on a YYT-YUL-YYZ Flex fare as a 25K and a TD VIP holder.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 1:16 pm
  #172  
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We were just denied entry to the Cafe with YYZ-SFO BPs.

Reading the website:

The new caf is reserved exclusively for those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight
This is now being enforced.
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canadiancow is offline  
Old Aug 28, 2022, 1:35 pm
  #173  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: YYZ
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Originally Posted by canadiancow
We were just denied entry to the Cafe with YYZ-SFO BPs.
And the other test we ran (which is re-confirmed): I tried to enter the cafe on an arriving BP. No-go, only departing domestic BPs are sufficient to enter the cafe.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 1:42 pm
  #174  
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The language AC provided regarding access is not at all clear:
"The new caf is reserved exclusively for those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight flying in Business Class or Premium Rouge, Aeroplan Super Elite, 75K, 50K, and Star Alliance Gold members, and select Aeroplan Credit Cardholders."

Thanks to the vagaries of the English language and the non-specific way it is written, that can be read to mean that if you've got status on AC or are a *G or even have the right credit card you can gain access n matter what flight you are on.
Xyzzy is online now  
Old Aug 28, 2022, 1:59 pm
  #175  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Programs: AC SE100K, Marriott Elite/Ambassador. NEXUS, National
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Originally Posted by Xyzzy
The language AC provided regarding access is not at all clear:
"The new caf is reserved exclusively for those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight flying in Business Class or Premium Rouge, Aeroplan Super Elite, 75K, 50K, and Star Alliance Gold members, and select Aeroplan Credit Cardholders."

Thanks to the vagaries of the English language and the non-specific way it is written, that can be read to mean that if you've got status on AC or are a *G or even have the right credit card you can gain access n matter what flight you are on.
"Domestic" isn't ambiguous, and the requirement Cow missed.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 2:02 pm
  #176  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: YYZ
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Posts: 3,121
Originally Posted by RangerNS
"Domestic" isn't ambiguous, and the requirement Cow missed.
Parenthesis would help to clarify a lot of the "and" and "or" conditions
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 2:04 pm
  #177  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Originally Posted by RangerNS
"Domestic" isn't ambiguous, and the requirement Cow missed.
I tend to agree with Xyzzy here:

"The new caf is reserved exclusively for (those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight flying in Business Class or Premium Rouge), (Aeroplan Super Elite, 75K, 50K, and Star Alliance Gold members), and (select Aeroplan Credit Cardholders.)"

The domestic requirement can be read as applying to AC flights in J or Premium Rouge only.
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 2:09 pm
  #178  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Originally Posted by canopus27
Parenthesis would help to clarify a lot of the "and" and "or" conditions
Originally Posted by ffsim
I tend to agree with Xyzzy here:

"The new caf is reserved exclusively for (those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight flying in Business Class or Premium Rouge), (Aeroplan Super Elite, 75K, 50K, and Star Alliance Gold members), and (select Aeroplan Credit Cardholders.)"

The domestic requirement can be read as applying to AC flights in J or Premium Rouge only.

English (should) uses semicolons.... but the obviously related lists are obviously related and "domestic" is separated from the lists with "in", it's obviously different from the the separate clauses:

Domestic in [so: and] (one of a cabin) or (one of a status) or (CC).
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 2:15 pm
  #179  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Originally Posted by RangerNS
English (should) uses semicolons.... but the obviously related lists are obviously related and "domestic" is separated from the lists with "in", it's obviously different from the the separate clauses:

Domestic in [so: and] (one of a cabin) or (one of a status) or (CC).
I know how English works; the reason its not obvious to some is because its poorly written. Something like this would be much easier to read:

"The new caf is reserved exclusively for those departing on a domestic confirmed Air Canada flight. Access is limited to passengers flying in Business Class or Premium Rouge, Aeroplan Super Elite, 75K, 50K, and Star Alliance Gold members, and select Aeroplan Credit Cardholders."
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Old Aug 28, 2022, 2:24 pm
  #180  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Anyway. This is hardly the first time AC has failed to put published and pseudo legalese out without passing it through someone with a BA, JD, and/or is a mischievous and creative FTer to pickup on the obvious and easily fixable ambiguity.
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