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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: Bohemian1
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 May 10, 2022, 6:01 pm
  #46  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: SFO
Programs: AC SE MM, BA Gold, SQ Silver, Bonvoy Tit LTG, Hyatt Glob, HH Diamond
Posts: 44,306
Originally Posted by ChrisA330
Is R class what you see from QR, or is that what you see if you’re pulling up your booking on AC?
IIRC if you're booked on QR 1234 operated by AC, the AC site will still show QR 1234 in R class.

I've definitely drilled pretty far down into 1A to try to get underlying fare classes for the operating airline, and I haven't seen the data.
canadiancow is offline  
Old May 11, 2022, 4:58 am
  #47  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: YYZ
Programs: Presto
Posts: 638
MLL access using 'Flight Option' on booking

It’s been a while since I’ve been here, or on Air Canada for that matter. I purchased a Premium Economy ticket yesterday (YYZ-VIE) and also paid for Maple Leaf Lounge access as a ‘Flight Option’ while booking the ticket. I do see it referenced in my Manage Bookings screen. When I go to enter the lounge, will it be denoted on my boarding pass; is pass provided at check-in; or do I need to download some kind of pass before departure? Thanks for any info…

NV
NoahVail is offline  
Old May 11, 2022, 7:49 am
  #48  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: YQR
Posts: 2,741
Originally Posted by NoahVail
It’s been a while since I’ve been here, or on Air Canada for that matter. I purchased a Premium Economy ticket yesterday (YYZ-VIE) and also paid for Maple Leaf Lounge access as a ‘Flight Option’ while booking the ticket. I do see it referenced in my Manage Bookings screen. When I go to enter the lounge, will it be denoted on my boarding pass; is pass provided at check-in; or do I need to download some kind of pass before departure? Thanks for any info…

NV
It has been a few years for me as well with the MLL purchased access but my recollection is that its connected to you BP so when it’s scanned upon entry they know you’re ok. I don’t remember if there is an actual notation on the BP, however. You should be able to see the charge on your receipt from AC so you could always screen shot or print that.
arf04 is offline  
Old May 14, 2022, 5:26 pm
  #49  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: LotusLand...
Programs: AC Elite50k, BAEC Blue, Amex Plat, RBC Black Tin Visa
Posts: 635
YYZ SS access yyz-edi...

Sorry but I have searched but no luck. Just in the process of booking yyz-edi as part of a yvr-yyz-edi and return in J and was wondering if the yyz-edi was a SS route. Something in the back of my tiny brain says its not and I cannot find anything on the AC website to confirm or deny. Sooo, can the resident experts here provide any clarity please?
TheOnlyWayTo Fly is offline  
Old May 14, 2022, 5:36 pm
  #50  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC SE MM, Hyatt Globalist, SPG Platinum, hhonors Gold
Posts: 3,421
Originally Posted by TheOnlyWayTo Fly
Sorry but I have searched but no luck. Just in the process of booking yyz-edi as part of a yvr-yyz-edi and return in J and was wondering if the yyz-edi was a SS route. Something in the back of my tiny brain says its not and I cannot find anything on the AC website to confirm or deny. Sooo, can the resident experts here provide any clarity please?
From what I can see it is mainline AC 787 so as long as you are on revenue J or flexible J reward you’d have SS service and lounge access.
yyzgigi is offline  
Old May 15, 2022, 11:39 am
  #51  
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC SE, AA PlatPro, Hyatt Globalist, Bonvoy Plat & LT Gold, Hilton Gold, National EE
Posts: 878
Originally Posted by yyzgigi
From what I can see it is mainline AC 787 so as long as you are on revenue J or flexible J reward you’d have SS service and lounge access.
Pretty sure there is no SS on a narrow-bodied transcon, SS is only on widebodies. So if you book Flex J or Paid J on a A321 YVR-YYZ, you would get SS in YYZ. I might be wrong but thats how I interpreted what Signature Class/SS service is.
MillennialMiles is offline  
Old May 15, 2022, 3:55 pm
  #52  
m.y
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC 75k, Marriott Titanium
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Originally Posted by MillennialMiles
Pretty sure there is no SS on a narrow-bodied transcon, SS is only on widebodies. So if you book Flex J or Paid J on a A321 YVR-YYZ, you would get SS in YYZ. I might be wrong but thats how I interpreted what Signature Class/SS service is.
No, you do not get Signature Suite access for North America, central America and Caribbean flights. If one day AC starts flying 321XLR to Europe, I'd imagine business class passengers would get SS access or they would sell it as premium economy similar to UA with their new flight to the Azores.
m.y is offline  
Old May 22, 2022, 9:48 am
  #53  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: is everything
Posts: 58
We are on a AC business ‘P’ flight from YYZ to SFO that was booked by United as part of a ticket to get to Tahiti. There is no corresponding UA code share flight. Would we be eligible for the SS? Thanks!
DUHCAR is offline  
Old May 22, 2022, 11:19 am
  #54  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC SEMM / HH Diamond
Posts: 3,155
No, you won't have access.

For lots of reasons, including (but not limited to) the fact that you won't even be in the right part of the airport.

The flight to SFO will be from the US departure area and the signature suite is in the international departure area.
canopus27 is offline  
Old May 22, 2022, 3:14 pm
  #55  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 495
Originally Posted by The Lev
AFAIK it is only the segment that is relevant - it is akin to buying a business class ticket on the outbound and economy on the return, which would also gain you entry.
I can attest to this being correct. OH recently flew on a flex/lowest J award. I believe much venison carpaccio was consumed...
MaxFlying is offline  
Old May 24, 2022, 2:58 pm
  #56  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Programs: AC SuperElite // Marriott Gold Elite
Posts: 28
SS Access with Z class Business

Hello all - I know that having booked an Aeroplan Business Lowest redemption, I don't get SS access. However, I had a schedule change & was rebooked by the agent on different flights and everything is now showing in Z class (once in awhile being SE still has some pull). So...any thoughts on whether that might now work for SS access? Per the eligible fare classes, Z should work. It's not make or break as we'll be connecting and won't have a lot of time anyway but I'd like to bring my wife in as she hasn't been though I've been in many times pre-pandemic (when I used to go to Asia/Europe/Middle East every couple of weeks). I'll likely try anyway, but any thoughts or past experience with something similar is appreciated.

Last edited by stuartma; May 24, 2022 at 3:12 pm
stuartma is offline  
Old May 24, 2022, 3:40 pm
  #57  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Programs: AC 50K, WS Gold, MB Titanium, National EE, UA Silver
Posts: 237
Originally Posted by stuartma
Hello all - I know that having booked an Aeroplan Business Lowest redemption, I don't get SS access. However, I had a schedule change & was rebooked by the agent on different flights and everything is now showing in Z class (once in awhile being SE still has some pull). So...any thoughts on whether that might now work for SS access? Per the eligible fare classes, Z should work. It's not make or break as we'll be connecting and won't have a lot of time anyway but I'd like to bring my wife in as she hasn't been though I've been in many times pre-pandemic (when I used to go to Asia/Europe/Middle East every couple of weeks). I'll likely try anyway, but any thoughts or past experience with something similar is appreciated.
Try it and let us know.
c224488 is offline  
Old May 24, 2022, 4:00 pm
  #58  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Posts: 44,306
Originally Posted by stuartma
Hello all - I know that having booked an Aeroplan Business Lowest redemption, I don't get SS access. However, I had a schedule change & was rebooked by the agent on different flights and everything is now showing in Z class (once in awhile being SE still has some pull). So...any thoughts on whether that might now work for SS access? Per the eligible fare classes, Z should work. It's not make or break as we'll be connecting and won't have a lot of time anyway but I'd like to bring my wife in as she hasn't been though I've been in many times pre-pandemic (when I used to go to Asia/Europe/Middle East every couple of weeks). I'll likely try anyway, but any thoughts or past experience with something similar is appreciated.
Per the rules, no, you don't have access.

You can very easily book business lowest in Z. It's not eligible.
canadiancow is offline  
Old May 24, 2022, 5:36 pm
  #59  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, TD.
Posts: 467
Hello we will be at YYZ for 5hrs before our flight to LHR via YUL. Can we use the Signature suite lounge when we are flying Domestic? we are on award ticket business class. Thanks.
Ramz is offline  
Old May 24, 2022, 5:48 pm
  #60  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: YOW
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 583
Originally Posted by Ramz
Hello we will be at YYZ for 5hrs before our flight to LHR via YUL. Can we use the Signature suite lounge when we are flying Domestic? we are on award ticket business class. Thanks.
No the business leg must be departing directly from YYZ.
WesternCDN is offline  

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